Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Communication Lessons from the Dalai Lama

Are you a snob?

Are you good at it?

Example: If you only listen to the classics – whether you define that as Dylan and Muddy Waters or Mozart and Prokofiev – you’re missing a lot.

You're not a good snob.

A few years ago the ball and cha wife and I had a few days in Manhattan sans short people. Naturally, we planned on seeing some art, eating some interesting food and catching a show. Imagine the horror that I, a snob, experienced when I learned she had gotten tix to see Mama Mia.

What? No Ibsen? No Williams? Not even a Sondheim for jeebussakes?

I had no intention of seeing of Mama Mia. I simply refused. This was a monstrosity of pop culture being fobbed off as art.

If you’re married you can skip ahead because you just KNOW we’re going.

It. Was. A. Blast.

Was it Wilson or Albee? Or even Shepherd? Of course not. But neither did it pretend to be. It was just one helluva a good time and well worth the investment.

What does this mean for professional relationship builders and communicators?

There are rules. Then, there are THE RULES. The small cap rules – proofreading, list hygiene, email etiquette – these are [for the most part] sacrosanct. They are intuitive and any outsider to your chosen profession would recognize it when you violate them.

THE RULES – the ones that only we marketing snobs appreciate: no more than two fonts on the slide, five words or less in the headline, show the logo near the end – these are things we all KNOW. They have become the dominant narratives of the business.

And they mean absolutely nothing to your audience.

Your audience cares only about the transaction: what they get for in exchange for paying attention to whatever it is you’re trying to say. Useful information? A bargain? A chuckle? A story?

There’s a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama that says something like: “It’s important to know the rules so we can know when we break them.”

Goes for THE RULES, too. Know them. Violate them at your peril. But occasionally, when it’s right … break ‘em.

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1 comment:

Kevin said...

Once said of a colleague of mine, he knew EVERY SINGLE RULE, but he did not know how to play the game.