In the midst of gut-wrenching, emotional turbulence, our country is wrestling with some of the most profound, and unsolved, issues of our times. And now that we’re openly talking about race, gun violence, income inequality, and so on – will we be able to communicate in a way that leads to lasting change? There’s a whole lot of conversation coming at us from every direction and political spectrum. And there’s that never-ending cable TV line-up of pundits spewing opinion into the national conversation. But is anyone really being understood?
How well are we grasping, dissecting, and understanding the chatter and the noise?
With all the Texting, Tweeting, Snap Chatting, Emailing, and Face Book Posting that we do, why is it so hard to communicate effectively? Someone asked me that question the other day, and it set me back on my heels a bit. Especially now in what feels like a turning point for this nation of ours. The person who posed the question did so in a business setting. Yet this inability to achieve clarity applies to matters of national importance as well.
Every day people exchange information at a furious rate on all sorts of devices. We have so many ways and outlets afforded to us to voice our opinion, our dissent, our anger and our frustration. There’s plenty of heated exchange, but very little compassion and tolerance. Without that, what we seem to lack is the ability to actually hear, listen, and take meaningful action.
I work in the business of messaging. It’s not a simple thing. Clients tell me all the time they can’t take their complicated businesses and explain what they do in just a few words. They insist that if they do that, no one will understand. Wow. There it is again. Why is it so hard to be understood?
Well I found something that might help. So I offer this example to anyone who believes that the complicated issues or concepts cannot be distilled into a simpler and more understandable format.
I think we can all agree that William Shakespeare had a way with words. He told stories of complex human relationships, emotions, and situations that didn’t always have a simple answer or obvious resolution. Try to explain Hamlet to someone in a paragraph. Guess what? I found someone who summed up that entire play this way:
“The greatest, most complicated investigation of human consciousness ever written. Trust me. Also, there’s a ghost dad.”
Of course Timothy McSweeney’s short summation is intended to be a bit tongue in cheek. It’s also a way to park further discussion and more in-depth exploration of the issues inherent in the play. And, that’s my point. When it comes to difficult topics, starting with small doses of clarification, could very well lead of to an eventual cure of what ails us.
This nation is in desperate need of healing. With the right approach, we will find a way to achieve the compassionate change we crave. We all need to be better understood for the sake of our businesses, our communities, and our national dialogue!
Mary Jane McKittrick is a Messaging Expert and professional story-teller who specializes in the art of the pitch. As a Consultant, Mary Jane inspires and empowers business professionals to craft messaging that gets measurable results. Mary Jane is a former TV News Anchor, Reporter, and Producer for 3 network affiliate stations. She has worked behind the camera in Entertainment TV, and as on-camera host of 2 nationally syndicated TV shows. Ms. McKittrick was in charge of overseeing communications for 5 statewide offices while serving as Director of Corporate Communications for a large healthcare company in North Carolina.