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How to Identify and Avoid Communication Landmines

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Michael Cloud Comments are off

(From the Persuasion Powerpoint section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Knowing what to do will make your life better.

So will knowing what not to do.

Knowing what to say will improve your conversations.

So will knowing what not to say.

Want a quick way to recognize what not to do or say?  Want a simple and direct way to identify and avoid some of the worst communication landmines?

Go to the comments and feedback sections that follow articles and blog posts on the web. Read Internet commentswhat people have written and posted in response.

A handful of comments will provide new insights or outlooks. A few will fill in new information.

But most will show you what you should not do or say — IF you want to influence or persuade the writer or readers.

All too many insult the writer, other readers, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with them.

Many make rude and sarcastic comments.

Some condemn and denounce people who have a different point of view.

Others are dripping with hate and bitterness.

Some try to taunt or antagonize those who disagree with the commenter.

Too many exhibit basic errors of logic.

Each time you read a comment or posting that irritates or annoys you, write it down.

Every time you find one that pushes your buttons or tees you off, write it down.

When you read a remark that makes you mad enough to swear, write it down.

Do this with 10 or 15 comments sections. Then look at your list. Even if your list has 20 or 30 examples, it’ll have only 5 or 10 different landmines.

Write your 5 or 10 communications landmines on a filing card, tape it in plain view of your computer keyboard — and do not do them. Do not plant these landmines — and do not step on them.

The very things that irritate or anger you will usually have the same effect on others. If you stop saying and doing things that provoke or frustrate others, you will find that others are far more receptive and responsive to your libertarian ideas.

And far more friendly and open-minded toward you.

Sometimes it’s the things we don’t do, the things we don’t say, that make the biggest difference.

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Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionMichael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

Grab Those Ideas — Before They Get Away!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

I was enjoying a delightful lunch with Harry Browne and a few other libertarians. Harry was discussing an upcoming book project. As usual with Harry, it was fascinating, enlightening and fun listening.

Someone at the table commented on something Harry had said, adding a surprising fact and quote that backed up Harry’s argument.

Harry listened attentively to the first few words, and then — still listening carefully — he Write It Down!pulled out a pad and pen and jotted down the information. “What was the name of that congressman you quoted?” he asked. He wrote that down, too.

I was impressed. Harry — a prolific writer and New York Times bestselling author — had obviously learned to grab onto ideas and important information that came his way. And to write it down, not trust his memory.

It’s a great idea. Probably everyone has heard that advice. But, as author Chris Guillebeau — who writes several hundred thousand words a year —notes:

“You may have heard the advice about carrying a notebook everywhere and writing things down as you think of them. This advice falls into the category of ‘extremely helpful tips that almost no one follows.’ Trust me, it helps: I have my notebook when I ride my bike, when I go to a restaurant, and with me on the seat of two hundred airplanes a year. Never keep anything in your head — keep it in the notebook instead.”

Is this idea “simplistic?” Maybe. But sometimes when someone describes an idea as “simplistic,” that really means “something everyone knows is a great idea — but almost nobody actually does.”

What should you use?

Liberator Online editor James W. Harris uses 3 X 5 note cards, an idea suggested to him by a prominent journalist. He writes down one idea or thought or item per card, transfers them onto his computer or elsewhere later, and then tosses them. That keeps things organized — one card doesn’t get crammed with half a dozen unrelated notes. He carries a few dozen of these ridiculously inexpensive cards (a dollar or so for 300) in his pocket at all times, held together by a small black binder clip. (Several years ago this combination was given the unfortunate name of the Hipster PDA.)

Other people swear by small wirebound notebooks.

Write It Down!There are e-devices and apps that are useful, too, of course. You can speak into a recording device — a stand-alone recorder, or a pad or phone.

When the perfect blog post title, a few lines of poetry, the perfect wording for a letter to the editor… whatever it is, when the right wording or the right idea comes to mind, jot it down.

Ideas have a tendency to pop into your mind at odd, unexpected moments. It’s your job to catch them. And the more you do this, the more the ideas seem to come.

It’s not just brilliant literary brainstorms that you want to record, of course. If someone says “Hey, can I have your email address?” you can dash it off and hand it to them. And vice-versa.

If you’re preparing a political meeting and you suddenly have to run to the store to pick up some essential last-minute items, jot them down — don’t rely on memory.

If you need directions, pull out your notepad. When you hear the name of a book or movie you want to check out… a great song on the radio… a new restaurant… write it down.

Get the idea?

Keep something to write on by your bed, too. Perhaps also a lighted pen.

As blogger and web developer Glen Stansberry advises:

“It almost always never fails. I’ll have a great idea, I’ll think about it for a while, and never remember it again. Why? I didn’t write it down. Half of having a good idea is actually writing it down. Writing it down gives you freedom to let your mind explore it even more, because it doesn’t have to work on actually remembering it. If paper isn’t your thing, use a voice recorder, your cell phone’s voicemail, a pda, a rock and chisel… anything so that you can file it somewhere other than your brain.”

And remember the advice of one famous writer (whose name I can’t recall — I should have written it down!): When you get a great idea, and you think, “I’ll never forget that — I’ll write it down later” — that’s the Devil speaking!