Choosing words

We all know that the “face” we put on each day – in our interactions with coworkers, our conversations with strangers, our social media presence, etc. – does not always reflect how we truly feel. For my Goffman fans out there, of course I’m talking about our “front stage” vs. our “back stage.” For those of us in PR, marketing or communications, this juxtaposition is something we think about often.

How we communicate is often a balance of how we feel and how we want to present ourselves. It’s not just the words you say or write, it’s also the meaning behind them. Were you short with a coworker because you are having trouble at home? Are you using your best grammar in an email to your boss because you are hoping for a good performance review?

The thought that I want to leave with you today is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and was shared on Facebook by my friend Jen.

Emerson quote

Know that you are given a fresh start every day. Every day, you can choose how you communicate with others. Words are very powerful – choose them wisely.

Listening

I’m currently in a class called “Interactive Media & Storytelling,” which has been an interesting and strange journey so far. However, as I was reading a chapter in my game design book by Jesse Schell tonight (the art of game design), he made a point that stuck with me.

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He said that out of all skills for a game designer to develop, the most important skill is listening. On p. 5 he goes on to say that:

Game designer Brian Moriarty once pointed out that there was a time when we didn’t use the word ‘listen,’ instead we said, “list!” and where did this come from? Well, what do we do when we listen? We tip our head to one side – our head literally lists, as a boat at sea. And when we tip to one side, we put ourselves off balance; we accept the possibility of upset. When we listen deeply we put ourselves in a position of risk. We accept the possibility that what we hear may upset us, may cause everything we know to be contradicted. It is the ultimate open-mindlessness. It’s the only way to learn the truth
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I couldn’t help but think about all of the scenarios in which this applies. Most of all, I’m glad that I’m developing my ability to really listen and consider others. Do any of us ever truly listen?

Digital learning: a snapshot

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I am plugging along in school, and I wanted to share with you a snapshot of a typical evening at Queens. Tonight in my comm601 class, which is really the introductory class to this program, we are expanding our digital literacy through a blogging workshop. Here you see fellow student Jennifer sharing her expertise. We will discuss some of our readings around one particular communication theory, and share the results of an assignment we researched this week. It’s cool to share our experiences and hear from other students about what they have been through and how they use these tools. This program helps open students’ eyes to their passions, which is something I didn’t expect but am thrilled about. For me, it is really fulfilling to spend time exploring and sharing with other students, and it makes you realize how precious your time is every day. If you happen to be interested in learning more, let me know – there is an information session in Charlotte next week.

Representing Me, Visually

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As part of the Organizational and Employee Identity course that I am just about to wrap up (through the MACOMM program at Queens University – which I think you can tell that I love so far), we were challenged to create a “visual representation of your professional identity by creating a personal infographic ‘resume’ and Pinterest board.”

While this project was challenging – I had to try to quickly learn what I could about Adobe Illustrator and graphic design – it was also a really interesting exercise in figuring out and prioritizing those things that really define my identity. (Quick plug to my friend Courtney, who spent tons of time helping me navigate the graphic design world!)

What I found was that, for me, my professional and personal identities really do cross over. As much as I like to think that I can keep my work life and my personal life separate, my personal convictions and passions do factor into my professional decisions and goals. So, my visual resume infographic mirrors that. If I were to send this to a potential employer or client, I would want him/her to have an understanding of what my capabilities are and who I am as a person.

What do you think? If you are an employer, would you want to better understand potential employees through visual resumes? As employees, do you think a visual – one that you would feel comfortable sharing on LinkedIn or other social networks, per se – would help you in your career goals?

Review: The End of Business As Usual

I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Organizational and Strategic Communication through Queens University’s Knight School of Communication (long name, isn’t it?).

To complement my course in Strategic Communication: Analysis and Theory, I recently purchased Brian Solis’ newest book, The End of Business as Usual. I have yet to read his other works in their entirety, including Engage, which is still on my list.

What I like about Solis is that he continually returns to research – it’s not about his own observations as much as it’s about his continual questioning and probing. Makes sense, because he is employed with research-based advisory firm Altimeter Group. Continue reading

Frustration Overturned

My initial response. Photo by Corbis.

It happened again. I overheard a seasoned communications professional say, “she’s young, so she gets all that social media stuff.” Seriously? I feel like a broken record – just because we have new communications tools (digital media, new media, social media…) doesn’t mean that basic communications strategy has changed. And it’s about much more than Facebook – what about the fact that there are more than 5 billion people using mobile phones across the globe?

Do you have to be young to embrace new tools? I certainly hope not. (Reminds me of this controversial comment from a Charlotte marketing panel a few months back – really made me feel better to review these comments again!)

I allowed myself 5 minutes of frustration. I boiled in it. But then I realized something – those of us who are “young,” (whether that’s your actual age or your state of mind) and who try to embrace new communication tools actually have the upper hand. So what if only 1 in every 5 new media platforms will eventually become essential to your business? Don’t you want to be the one who “gets” it when it does?

I do.