FRIEND OR FOE TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Does our obsession with Social Media messaging mean the end of good writing? Such a great question from Emphasis that I used it to kick start this article. 

Communication is key in life. Not only within our personal relationships, but definitely within a business environment. It is safe to say that the way we communicate with each other has changed drastically over the years. Long, very long gone are the sending a pigeon and following short on its footsteps we can even count writing a letter as something that is beginning to disappear. 

Nowadays, we live in an (mostly) electronic world. Apart from our personal lives being organised via an electronic device, a very big part of our work are conducted electronically via a keyboard. It is this last mentioned task that, in my opinion, is becoming a talking point to take notice of.

TALK THE TALK

So many of people around the world go about their every day duties with an electronic device in their hands - or pockets/bags at least. It is therefore much easier to get or keep in touch with others than ages ago. More so, it can be done almost instantly, as you all know by now.  “What is the issue?” you may ask. Well, it is not that we can respond easily, it is how we respond that is my focus point.

Being regularly on social media platforms it has become obvious to me that many individuals tap or type away without taking much care of how they write. What matters to them is the fact that they do communicate and not how they do it. Time and time again one will stumble across social media posts that harbours incorrect spelling or incorrect grammatical usage. 

SPEAK THE LANGUAGE

Digging deep into some research, it has become clear that there are many educating institutions that have already talked of late about the writing element while we are speaking to each other. Teachers and Educators seem to address this issue which means they are questioning the way we are moving forward on an educational level. Amen to that!

At this point, let’s look at some of the outcomes from a study of 800+ teachers released by Dictionary.com:

  • 32% notices students struggle with grammar

  • 64% focusses more on skills like meaning and comprehension 

  • 73% find that social media and texting negatively affects students' grammar and spelling skills

  • 75% are troubled by students using popular slang or text speak in their schoolwork

  • 88% are concerned of students’ improper use of basic words and phrases 

As a strong believer in dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s, it has been more than frustrating on many occasions to see online posts not adhering to the correct usage of words - whether that is in sentences or on-word responses. Along with this kind of behaviour, one also has to put up with grammatical errors. There is an age-old saying: read between the lines, however, struggling to figure out what someone is telling you via the lines is (personally) a waste of time - in particular within the world of social media. After all, social media communication is suppose to be in the KISS form (Keep It Short & Simple), right? 

TOO MUCH TO ASK

Not only is it easy to draw a different conclusion to what the writer intended, it also can easily give the reader the wrong impression of the personality on the other end of the phone. This observation can quickly be pushed aside by saying that we are friends so he/she knows what I mean. Rightly so, but what about those who do read your work and is not at all a friend in real life? 

Furthermore, when it comes to those who are shouting from the rooftops about their milestones, their achievements and mostly (even if it’s indirectly) about what great influencers they are, is it really such an enormous task to make sure your content is grammatically correct when published?

Take for instance an Educator (i.e. a person who provides instruction or education; a teacher - via dictionary.com)... surely this person has a responsibility (at least) towards his/her students. Around 50% of teachers admit they reach out to social media to have a better understanding of their students’ culture.  Has it ever occurred to you as a tutor, that the reverse can happen? If your students take on board your irked grammar behaviour, are you really succeeding as an upstanding pilar of society?

At the end of the day, my question is: as a Leader, how much do you respect the language you are using to communicate with others?

THE FUTURE IS OUT THERE

We all know that once it is published, it’s basically out there forever. We can delete here, there and anywhere we can find, but somehow somewhere someone will find our original post. 

We all have a native tongue. Personally, this language I communicate in 100% of my everyday is not the one I was born with. And there are millions of us around the world in a similar situation. However, living in a society that is becoming more and more global it has become the norm to talk to each other in a universal language. Nothing wrong with that at all, but do we honestly have to walk around showing little respect for the language that is bringing us all together? 

What if the English language is the glue that keeps the world go round? The manner in which the English language is being used over the last few decades, is a true indication of how long it is been here and most probably how long it is going to be around for. 

Far is it for me to be such a stern critic, but if us humans, and in particular those who count themselves as upstanding citizens, cannot adhere to a simple task of delivering their words in mint condition, then where is this all going to end.

CONCLUSION

None of us are perfect. That is a common fact. We are all human and we make mistakes. That said, I personally don’t believe we can use that as an excuse to set a bad example. My point is that it is so easy nowadays to distribute content electronically. All we need to do is take good care of how we put it out there for all to see and read.

The main issue with not taking care of how we communicate with words is about to whom we aim our knowledge / points of view / insights etc. towards. It is quite possible for a big majority of your readers to be of a younger age than yourself. This is great, because we would like to advise and help others by sharing our wisdom with them - especially if one is in an environment of mentoring or coaching and teaching. Not much give more satisfaction than assisting others with reaching their potential

If we feel so strongly about how much value we want to bring to others’ lives, then why not feel strongly about the manner in which way we will give value to them. For those who will end up in a professional working environment one day, it is definitely a sure thing that they will not get away with using inappropriate language when engaging with fellow colleagues and/or clients. No company will put up with the use of slang or abbreviations in emails, incorrect usage of grammar in presentations and definitely not if you have a bad telephone manner. 

Those of us out here that wants to share with the world what we’ve learned so far in life, has a responsibility to do it correctly. After all, a Leader should be someone who Knows the Way, Goes the Way and Shows the Way. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

PRESENT YOUR BRAND WITH PRIDE

‘What is the fatal flaw that prevents Brand Consistency when it comes to visual posts?’ This question from John Lim (@bemovingforward) whilst promoting my appearance as a guest on his podcast, sparked me to get you an answer. 

With workloads and to do lists as long as an arm, it is no wonder that many of us buckle under the weight and let our guard slip. Especially when it comes to being active within the various social media platforms. It’s understandable that between searching for projects, chasing payments and living a life, etc., something has to give

THE DOWNFALL

Unfortunately, the area in which we should not be lazy is how our Brand is being presented where everyone can see it. I would like to particularly focus on the many platforms where we post articles, blogposts, quotes and much more – yes, it’s none other than on Social Media. 

What is your main focus when it comes to being visible on Social Media? Everyone will yell content at me and they will be correct. Next, I will get bombarded with shouts of engagement and that will be followed by video, I’m sure. None of these are wrong, bad suggestions or irrelevant what so ever. In all honesty, nothing can be any closer to the truth. 

THE FEELING OF DROWNING 

Overwhelmed. Snowed under. Completely buried. Do these sounds like phrases/words that you would use to describe how you feel about Social Media many times? Not uncommon to even experience anxiety about it all. 

The question now is, what are you going to do about it? Or are you actually just going to let it be and you will struggle forth. Moving forward without tackling this issue, is definitely not a great idea. Actually, it is a very bad move on your part. So how can you elevate at least some of the stress?

THE BRICK WALL

For many this is the bit that is the cause of all the angst. Not only because you cannot be bothered about it too much, but for many, because you don’t actually know how to deal with it correctly. I am referring to the visually creative part of your posts.

Not all of us are graphic designers. Neither are we top notch photographers. To be honest, I bet many of you will say ‘I don’t even have a creative bone in my body’ when asked about this topic. 

Not having any inclination towards a creative eye is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Crikey, we are just human. 

I gather the obvious solution that immediately springs to your mind, is that of hiring a professional to look after your Brand Creatives. Easy - issue solved, right? Well, not for wanting to burst your bubble, that is easier said than done. There is one particular issue with that solution: costs. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have funds available so you can reach out to a professional designer and have all your creatives done in a flash. However, if like me, you most likely are counting the pennies carefully before you spend left, right and centre. 

THE HELPING HAND

A solution is at hand that can help to minimise this one section of your media activity. It is within your reach to cast aside your fear of being creative. You don’t have to show the world your inability of creating visuals that do not sit well within the parameters of Social Media platforms. 

Not all platforms have the same criteria when it comes to posting images. Luckily there are some platforms that share the same dimensions for images. If all were the same, then we won’t have any issues. The crux lies within fact that we should be able to post visuals with the correct size. 

It is here where many, in my opinion, show the lack of pride for their Brand. To post the same size image everywhere will show your lack of care and also prevent your visual to not be seen in its entirety. Hence so many times an important thought/section will go unseen purely because it is not visible completely. 

The secret, although not such a big secret at all, is using a very clever application (app). There is one for me that stands out head and shoulders above the rest. 

THE UNCOMPLICATED ASSISTANT

Having a mobile device is order of the day nowadays. It is designed to make our lives easier and to have at hand at all times. The App mentioned above is available on Mobile Devices (via a download from your mobile provider’s choice of store) and on your Desktop (again, to download via your Internet Providers’ choice of store). 

I am referring to the very useful Adobe Spark Post application. Having this handy App(lication) on your device and/or computer will definitely lend a hand when you want to spice up your post with a stunning visual. Very often we come across a thought or quote that we want to share with our audience. We also realise that it will perform so much better if it is accompanied by an image.  We are after all, constantly made aware that platforms favour posts with visuals. 

No need to neglect your wish anymore. Within a few short actions you can rest assure that your visual will be visible to many others the way the chosen platform intend it to be. 

THE TIME TO EXECUTE

Even as a non-creative human using the Adobe Spark Post application is easy. The simple menu layout of options can quickly be navigated to what you have in mind. Here are the options to create an original post if you don’t want to use some of the App’s templates. 

  •  BACKGROUND 

    For this you have 8 options - from using one of your original photos, or a plain colourful background (a Palette lets you keep your Branding in place by adjusting it to your Brand’s colour tones) through to a stock image.   

  •  TEXT

    10 options available which includes a selection of fonts (to keep your Brand consistent with your designated Brand font), colour (to align with your Brand’s look&feel), the size, spacing, opacity and many more. 

  •  LAYOUT

    An abundance of choices if there need to be more than one image within your post visual.

  •  EFFECTS

    To animate certain parts of your visual are at your fingertip (on your mobile device) or your desktop cursor. 

  •  RESIZE

    This option here is where the magic takes place. 35 options at a tap or click to choose from. Each has the Social Media Platform icon so there is not a single moment wasted figuring out which option will fit perfectly. It’s as easy as Bish Bash Bosh! 

These are the basics within the app. The desktop version has a slightly different layout to it all, but the principals are the same. It will honestly not take you long to find your way around and with regular use you will master it in no time. 

THE CONCLUSION

This very helpful app is easily the one mostly in use by yours truly. On numerous times I have used it whilst having a quick coffee on the go or during a commercial break while I am watching some show on TV. There are obviously many similar applications to choose from however, this one is by far my favourite.  

Originally, I had to consult my notes for the exact image dimensions to fit each platform I was creating a visual for. It took time and a lot of messing about to get it right. All of which added up and before you know it, I was wasting way too much time for my liking. We are all aware time is of essence therefor I was delighted to come across something that can not only enhance my visuals, but also cut down on my precious time. All in all, using this shortcut creates not only much satisfaction (for being creative!), it also leaves me with pride as I present my Brand to one and all out there in perfect shape.

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading.

BROADENING YOUR SKILLS

How do you feel about gaining new information? Is it an exciting prospect? The ability to extend your knowledge of a subject can be daunting, however if you approach it with the right mindset you can walk away feeling very satisfied. 

For me the words of Vincent van Gogh sums it up beautifully:

Learning, or educating myself, has always given me a great sense of achievement. 

THE URGE TO KNOW

When the decision was made to startup on my own, there were quite a few elements that I knew too little about. One way to obtain that information was to sign up to a course or three and let others be a guide. Nothing wrong with that. However, to seek out the information on your own accord somehow always is so much more fulfilling. Therefore I tackled the proverbial bull by the horns and educated myself in the areas I lacked knowledge in. 

THE LEARNING CURVE

With the worldwide web at our finger tips nowadays it is much easier than years ago to get hold of answers to all our questions. It takes some research, but persevere and one will find what one is looking for. What could, or most likely will happen, is that you will find bits here, there and everywhere. The fun part (to put it mildly) is to then put it together like a puzzle. First, one finds the pieces with a straight edge and/or the corner pieces and before you know it the border (or outline) is all in place. To follow is to fill in the middle section and voila! your picture is complete. All pieces slotted in and you’re sitting back looking at a complete visual. In other words, you have conquered the assignment of learning how to perform a certain task within your business.

THE IMPLEMENTATION

Once the know how is firmly in your head, it is time to put your new found knowledge into action. Best bit of advice at this stage is to get going immediately since the information is still very fresh. Practice, practice and then some more practice. Repetition is known to cement actions within us. Once you leave the new facts and skills at the door the inevitable is sure to happen - when you return to put it all to work, most will be a haze and you will need to start again to remind yourself.  

THE CONCLUSION

To study or learn on your own takes a lot of effort and determination. You need to be proactive and resilient at all times. For me it works. Currently there is a new venture on the cards and instead of signing up to expensive courses how to achieve this I am taking matters in my own hands. Yes, I do attend webinars, seminars and talks to get some guidance, but at the end of the day it’s up to me. Some will call it the hard way. Others won’t understand why the narrow, steep road is more attractive. 

Each to their own I say. It is not a matter of making it unnecessarily difficult for oneself, it is much more about achieving something where there was originally no knowledge of in my head. As a strong believer in one can do whatever you put your mind to, it’s obvious this is the preferred route for me. That moment you reach the end of the rainbow and find your pot of gold is priceless. To sit back and look at the finished task you did with the complete new set of tools in your head, is beyond satisfying. Once you experienced that feeling, I bet you will want it again and again. Believe me the feeling is that wonderful. 

If you felt some affinity towards this topic please comment and share your thoughts. If you’re in need of mentoring about educating yourself get in touch and lets talk.

 

BEING A WINNER

How does one become a winner? What does it take to be successful? Many people see it as being lucky in life. Others put it down to pure hard work. But what really is needed for one to come out on top and walk away with the trophy?

THE OPPORTUNITY

Within the last 24 hours another major sporting event took place in Paris, France. To say that it was nail biting and exhilarating are understatements. Apart from the outcome (which caused much personal happiness) the fascinating part was watching the two men play tennis to a top standard. Since it was the world’s #1 and #2 their tennis skills were of the highest possible. That is obvious if one reach that level in the world ranking. However, there were much more than skills evident during the match. Watching both players walking out on a court at Roland Gross it was clear that both were here to win. Needless to say only one could achieve that. But which one will it be, was on everyone’s mind.  

THE BEGINNING

It started out with one player taking the upper hand and making use of opportunities to claim the first set in his favour. If we as spectators thought he’s onto a winning streak we could not have been more wrong. What happened over the next 2+ hours was incredible - not only as a sporting event, but as a display of human ability par excellence.

THE MIDDLE

Not that there was much of a surprise in the one player taking control, but how he took control. The difference between the two players was phenomenal. It became clear why the world’s #1 player is number one. And to be honest, it wasn’t down to his tennis skills alone.

THE END

Once the #2 player had his serve broken it was downhill from there onwards. His shoulders slumped multiple times after faults. He didn’t control his emotions much. Winning the odd point ended in over the top outbursts of joy. Every time he made an error one could see how it effected him in a negative way. His confidence went out the window in no time. It was actually embarrassing to see him fall apart. He was behaving like a yo-yo. After all he is the world’s #2 player and it became apparent why he is only #2. He has the skills, but doesn’t have the mindset of a winner. He was not determent enough to fight for the title. All in all a shocking performance.

His opponent was in utter contrast. He was consistent across all aspects of his game. There was undeniable evidence of him eliminating emotion throughout. Even if he occasionally showed some frustration the majority of the time he was cool, calm and collected. His body language was on par with that of someone in control of not only of the game, but of himself. The shoulders never slumped - even when he lost a point. His head never fell down when he made a mistake. There was hardly an outburst of the verbal kind. It was clear that this man had a demeanour of a winner. And so he did. No surprise there.

THE LESSON

In business (and also life) there is a great message here.  Even if you have the skills to be great at what you’re doing, you need a lot more than that. Determination is the emotion you need to bring to the table (not schoolboy playground frustration). Show the world (or the client sitting across from you) the confidence and the believe you have in yourself. Lay bare your positivity and outlook. Be consistent in delivering your skills and your message as if you’ve nailed the proposal already (even if it’s only the start of the presentation). Most of all, show you have the mindset of a winner. 

From this tennis final it is clear that success is down to skill and determination plus mindset. These three goes hand in hand.  Step up your game and walk away with the prize. It is possible. 

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