Why No One Reads What You Write: A Masterclass In Communication

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“Dammit, I hate this! When I click ‘publish’ I earn nothing, when they click ‘publish’ they practically print money!” Emma banged the coffee table with her fist.

“I understand,” I replied.

“Do you, Dad? It feels so bad. I poured hours of my life into that post and all they do is name-drop Elon Musk and watch the upvotes flood in.”

“That sounds terrible.”

“It is! It just proves that people really do suck.”

“That’s possible.”

“Why doesn’t anyone read what I f**king write?!”

“I could tell you.”

“Then do it! Why are you just sitting there giving me two-word answers?” Emma put her hands on her hips. “Tell me!”

My daughter was acting quite spoiled. I thought about reprimanding her, but instead just answered her question. “Because you failed to set the stage for proper communication.”

“I did what now?”

“You were so focused on your emotional desire for upvotes that you left me no room to contribute. You asked me no questions until just now. You invited no replies. Your energy wasn’t seeking truth or understanding, it was seeking validation, attention, and a punching bag you could vent into. Every sentence you spoke was full of assumptions, and left very little ‘conversational space’ for me to offer anything. And even if I did, my perspective wasn’t actually invited, until you finally asked for answers.”

“Uh, ok ‘professor.’ Are you gonna insult me all day, or explain why no one reads my sh*t?”

“I’m explaining how answers only blossom from a proper conversational environment. But it’s a deep topic, and if you really want to understand what happens when you click publish —and why— you’ll have to be a more calm, co-operative, and helpful listener. Our chat is a two-way street, and so far you’ve only contributed entitled rage and an impatient demand for teachings.”

“Hey, I resent—”

“—ah, ah, I’m not done. I’ll address your ‘professor’ remark as well. I’ve dedicated a huge chunk of my life to artful communication. Whether verbal, written, or body language, I’ve studied the nuances of self-expression deeply. I’ve explored everything from the responsibility of speakers vs. listeners, to censorship and free speech. And my favorite form of communication is teaching a receptive student.

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It’s such a blessing for the world when others gain understanding and clarity, plus I learn even more as I teach others. So I may not have some fancy piece of paper marking me as a ‘professor’ but I bet I’m more passionate and practiced in teaching than anyone you’ll meet. So for now, I might as well be your professor. Capiche?”

“Yeah, fine, whatever. But you interrupted me, how is that good communication?”

“Interruptions are a vital part of the art of communication, and we’ll get to that, but first we have to lay some foundations.”

“Why?”

“Because you learned communication from parents, teachers, peers, and other mediocre communicators. You didn’t learn it from anyone with mastery.”

“Ah, so I learned bad habits. How convenient you’re technically my step-Dad so I can’t blame you, can I?” Emma’s smirk curled sideways.

“You can ‘blame’ anyone you want, honey, but blame is a weak communication tool that usually won’t serve you. The point is that you definitely don’t understand the foundations well, and they’re the most important thing that we’ll be building on. So do you want to learn them, or not?”

“OK, ok. Yes, please.”

“Ooh, your first bit of politeness in our chat so far, perhaps you’re a better student than I first thought.” I stuck my tongue out with a wink to let Emma know I didn’t really mean what I was saying.

“I was just pissed at my post’s performance. I’m better now, honest. I’m listening. What are the foundations?”

Energy, value, and attention.

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“Uh, hello? Are you telling me 'words' aren’t one of the foundations of communication?”

“Correct. Back when Neanderthals expressed using grunts, words didn’t exist. They weren’t the foundations of communication, they were something that came after. But you know what was there from before the very first grunt?”

“Crazy guess? Energy, value, and attention?”

“Very funny. But yes. Some levels of energy, value, and attention are present in all forms of communication.”

“Hmm… I don’t know about that.”

“Well, you’re a smart girl, try and find an example to prove me wrong. A cat communicating with a bird? They’ve no words, but there’s definitely an energy behind their communication, there’s a certain value in the information being expressed and received, and they’re both paying some level of attention.”

“Okay Mr. Smarty-pants, what about an amoeba?”

“Same deal. The amoeba is attending to information from its environment such as ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, ‘light’ or ‘dark’, etc. It then moves itself either toward that climate/object, or away from it. It can do this rapidly, with lots of energy, or it can do it gradually, with minimal amounts. Why would it bother? Because the amoeba knows that moving one direction has more value to it than moving another direction.

Communication: the exchanging of information, even in single-celled organisms.”

“Dang. I guess communication really does rely on the foundations of energy, value, and attention.”

“It does. And do I need to explain the nuances behind energy, value, and attention, or do you know what they are well enough?”

“I mean, everyone knows what energy, value, and attention are, right?”

“You tell me. You thought you knew what ‘communication’ was too, and you figured it’s core was ‘words.’ Are you sure you know what energy, attention, and value are? Can I continue teaching without you nitpicking me each time I use these terms?”

“Uhhh, I can’t promise that, maybe you’d better explain.”

"Energy.

Energy is the basic building block of everything, even communication. You can convert the energy in scraps of wood and paper into the energy of light & heat, it happens when you start a fire. Similarly, you can convert the energy stored in your body into a kind caress, or into an aggressive punch. And if you do that, it communicates something to the environment around you. (Not to mention anyone in it.) You can convert the energy of your ideas and consciousness into words aimed to harm others, or words aimed to help others.

If the energy in a communication is unpleasant, that hinders communication. If the energy in communication is appealing, that helps communication.”

“That makes sense. I think most people ‘get this’ on an instinctual level, if you use this term while teaching me,” Emma’s cleared her throat loudly, “—why no one’s reading my stuff— then that’s fine. I’m cool with it.”

“Wow, you’re so kind, Em, thank you!”

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“Shush. Now about attention?”

“You seriously need me to explain ‘attention’?”

“I just know you have unique insights, I learned from our talk on free speech not to assume as much as I usually do.”

“Fair point. So...

Attention.

This is something we direct. If energy is a ‘thing’, then attention is the ‘light’ that we shine on it. Imagine someone in a burning building. We can focus our attention on our fear of the fire, and let them die, or we can focus on saving lives and ignore the heat. We can shape our attention into a focused laser-beam, or we can let it be diffuse, like a giant fluorescent floodlight.

If attention is directed poorly, it hinders communication. If it’s directed well, it helps communication.”

“I’m with you. I mean it sounds so obvious when you say it like that. We all have attention and we’re all directing ours moment to moment.”

“Yeah, so the next time Mom asks you to do your chores and you ignore her because you’re way too involved in World Of Warcraft, you’ve no excuse, right?”

“Daaaad. Cut it out. What’s next?”

“Value.

Value is benefits. It’s worth. It’s something all creatures are attuned to, but varies greatly. The earth going around the sun is valuable to all of humanity, as it helps our survival, but some people take it for granted, not seeing it as very valuable, while others cherish every sunset deeply.”

“Kind of like how I value these chats when I want to rescue my post, but have no interest in them when you’re lecturing me about homework, eh?” Emma's face turned smug as she basked in the glow of her zinger.

I took it in stride. “Unfortunately, yes. Another example: it may be valuable to ‘sleep through the night’ for one creature. It may be valuable to ‘sleep during the day’ for another. It may be valuable not to sleep at all in times of danger. The value of something often changes when we’re in ‘survival mode’, or even just triggered into an imagined survival mode. Unless you want to get very philosophical, the way it stands is that because we’re mortal with a limited time on earth, every moment holds value to us as time ticks by.

If value is perceived poorly, it hinders communication. If it’s perceived well, it helps communication.

“Okay, but what does this have to do with why people won’t upvote me like they do others?”

“Think about it. If energy isn’t correct, your communication fails. If attention isn’t correct, your communication fails. If value isn’t correct, communication fails.”

“So what?”

“So, can you honestly say your post communicated well enough to be rewarded, despite you not being very clear on these communication-foundations?”

“Hmm… no I can’t.”

“Right, I haven’t read your post, but whether you like it or not, it’s a blend of these 3 ingredients. It’s a dish you serve up to diners (readers), and they either enjoy it, or turn up their noses at it.”

“They definitely did the latter.”

“Sure, but are we certain it’s because they’re bad diners who —in your words— ‘suck’? Or could it be that the dish wasn’t prepared so great, and the chef could use some improvement?”

“Ugh. You always make this stuff about me.”

“Because it is, love. It’s super easy to finger-point and blame others so that we can avoid taking responsibility for our results in life. And if you kept blaming people I would’ve just went outside and walked the dog and you wouldn’t be here learning anything.”

“Good thing I asked for help instead, ‘cause I really do want to solve this. I want my posts to be read, even adored!”

“We’ll get ya there, but first we’ll have to break down any bad habits and beliefs you’ve picked up.”

“What do you mean?”

Well, can you tell me what the purpose of communication is?”

“Uh, to like... talk to others?”

“You can do better than that.”

“To convey information to others?”

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“Better, but why? Why would anyone need to convey information to others?”

“Because if they don’t, nothing’s going to get done?”

“And why does that matter? Is there something wrong with nothing getting done?”

“Obviously. Our entire species would run out of food, die off, and so on.”

“Ah, so are you telling me the purpose of communication is the survival of our species?”

“I never really thought about it, but yes, I guess I am.”

“Good, now we’re getting close to the purpose of communication.”

“What do you mean, ‘close’? The species must survive, so we must get things done, so we must convey information to others, which means we must communicate. Its purpose seems clear to me now.”

“You’re right, but with a minor tweak. Communication’s true purpose is the evolution and expansion of our species, not it’s mere survival. And it’s not just evolution of the species, it’s evolution of the individual. Each individual has the desire to reach their potential. When they’re cold, they have the potential to be warmer, so they seek warmth. And they will use communication in an attempt to reach that potential.”

“Whatever, fine, ‘potential’, ‘evolution.’ Can you just evolve this chat towards my upvotes please?”

“Yes, but only if you understand that when you post something out into the world, you’re doing what humanity has done since the beginning.”

“What’s that?”

“You’re offering an idea, a view, some information, some content, and it is being judged on whether or not it is valuable to the individual, and to humanity as a whole. Let’s go back to my caveman example: When Zog discovered fire, it was strange to the other Neanderthals, and Zog had to communicate that fire wasn’t a threat to the tribe, it was a valuable blessing. If he used the wrong grunts, or if he accidentally burned someone with it, his message may seem to be harmful. If he put more care and attention into his communication and demonstrated his discovery well, then his message is likely to be valued and rewarded.”

“What about if I’m just saying something like ‘its sunny outside?’ That’s not me offering something and being judged, is it?”

“It really is. You say it’s sunny, the listener has the option of trusting and believing your info. Or they can disbelieve you. Or they can reserve judgment until they check for themselves. Or they can communicate that you’re staring at a hologram of a bright blue sky they had set up earlier. One side offers some information, the other side responds to that. Communication is offering and acceptance, or offering and rejection. Even choosing to ignore something is a form of acceptance or rejection.”

“I’m getting it. I can see that because energy, attention, and value are involved in all communication, that what you’re describing will happen with everything, from sharing fire with tribes-people, to asking a friend if they want to go to a movie.”

“Yes, all communication is either people agreeing with your views, beliefs, and direction, or disagreeing with it.”

“This is like when you explain free speech, isn’t it… what do you always say? ‘To sell is human’? Everything is selling? Something like that?”

“Pretty much. The economy has existed ever since one cave-dude traded another cave-dude something. Likely before writing or speech even developed. Speech and writing came about with the purpose of helping one person offer information to another, and for the receiver to respond to it. Information stemming from our thoughts, emotions, and energy. Words are tools that can be used in many ways. If a parent says to a kid, ‘everything will be fine’, they’re not using words to make a ‘rational prediction from available facts.’ They’re using words to ‘skip logic and offer comfort.’”

“You’ve said that very thing to me. And I appreciated it.”

“Yes. And take another example. If Samantha says to John ‘You never help me, John! You’re so unreliable!’ John might just assume Samantha is using her words as a tool to ‘state facts’ about him. He gets defensive. But he is not understanding the communication properly. Samantha wasn’t using her words to state facts. The energy behind her words aren’t really that John never helps. The energy is that she’d prefer John to be more nurturing. But she has phrased it in a vague way, and John hasn’t attempted to look behind the words. Each word we express can be chosen well, or poorly. And each word we write gets judged by the receiver on whatever value they can find in it, and behind it. ”

“Yeah well ain’t nobody seeing value in my post.”

“Easy my girl, that’s just because you’re still weighed down by old language habits.”

“Well I’m sick of them. I want to be a better communicator.

Why do I have these habits anyway?”

“Like many things, you pick them up because of the environment and system you’re born into.”

“You told me that already, but how did they start?”

“You started out communicating honestly, authentically, and straight-forwardly. You’d cry when you were hungry, laugh when you were happy, and so on. You understood that everyone has desires (yourself included), and that communicating truthfully about them was how things were meant to be. And it worked for a while.”

“Are you saying I stopped doing that? That I’m not straight-forward and authentic about communicating my desires?”

“Correct. Almost no one is. No celebrity you can name. Not even most ‘gurus’ you may look up to. Not even me, though I do try very, very hard to manage it.”

“Uhhh, ok. Why did I stop communicating like I did as an infant?”

“Because the people who raised you trained you to be like them. You watched them walk, and learned how. You watched them talk, and learned how. And you watched them hide their true desires using bribes, threats, guilt, blame, victimhood, excuses, and more as tools to ‘get what they want.’ And you learned how. You quickly learned to abandon honest, direct communication of your desires in favor of lying to yourself and others using terrible communication habits to get what you want. Most parents, teachers, and peers are a terrible place to learn communication from, they are not masters, artists, or teachers of communication… but they’re all you had.”

“Holy. How have I not seen this before?”

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“Because you’ve been like a fish swimming in the water. You don’t know there’s a whole world of awesome communication above you, because you’ve been immersed in the sea your whole life. You don’t notice anything strange about it, and you’ve adapted gills to navigate it.”

“So you’re yanking me into a new way of communication where I can’t breathe?”

“More like I’m turning you into a mermaid so you’ll know what to do whether you’re in old communication environments like the water, or new communication environments like dry land and fresh air.”

“That sounds beautiful.”

“It is, but you’ll have to let go of lashing out, over-biased assessment, lying to yourself, shirking responsibility, blaming others, deciding during emotionality, creating knee-jerk rules, playing the victim, and more. That stuff will come through in your writing.”

“I don’t do all that!”

“You just did! Saying you don't is an over-biased assessment. The truth is, we all do those things, have done those things, or may slip-up in a moment and do those things in the future. Pretending they don’t exist, or that you’re some inhuman paragon of perfection who doesn’t ‘do that’ is where a lot of poor communication comes from.”

“OK fine, but I didn’t do that in my post.”

“We'll examine your post further into our talk, but you’re missing the point. You don’t get the luxury of being a sh*tty communicator in most areas of your life, while somehow being masterful at it while you’re posting. You’re either a great communicator who gets positive results, or you’re not. Period. Are you honestly telling me you’re a great communicator? How would you even know?”

“I don’t know, I just am.” Emma sulked.

“Oh, my sweet child, this is what happens to everyone. You can’t improve and learn to be better until you admit there’s room for improvement. Admit I may know more than you. Learn to notice better communicators whenever they appear, and aim to be more like them. You must seek change... not argue, fight, and resist it when it’s happening. Especially when a kind teacher is guiding you towards a better version of yourself.”

“I still don’t think I do those terrible things you listed.”

“Okey-dokey.” I got up and began to leave the living room.

“Hey! Where are you going?”

“Well, you have communicated to me that you know it all, you don’t do any of the normal bad habits the rest of us humans do, and there’s no point in me volunteering my time and energy to teach someone who’s already nailed it. You clearly have this stuff handled, and in fact, I should probably be learning from you. So I’m going to head out, good luck with your future posts!”

Emma looked as if she was going to cry.

“Just a heads up, using tears as a response to the truth is another form of poor communication you learned from others, and won’t work on me.” As much as it broke my heart to do so, I left the house while Em continued crying.


“Dad?”

“Yes dear?”

“I wanted to apologize.”

“No apologies needed honey, but thank you.”

“Will you please continue explaining communication?”

“That depends, are you ready to do so?”

“I said I was sorry!”

“Yes, but you raised your voice just now, and you’re acting like ‘saying sorry’ should magically regain my teaching and goodwill.”

“Isn’t that the whole point of the word 'sorry?'”

“Perhaps technically, but few people use it so. 'Sorry' only works like that if a person means it. If there’s the correct energy and value behind it. An empty ‘sorry’ is practically worthless. And as with most people’s words, it’s tricky for me to know if you really mean them. Since as kids we all learned to rarely say what we mean. We learned to manipulate with tiny white lies. We learned to try victimhood, and if that didn’t work, try blame, and if that didn’t work, try empty promises, and so on... most people learned to communicate in whatever ways we could to get what we want, but that doesn’t make them healthy. ‘Saying sorry’ but not meaning it, is a common way to placate a helper or teacher, in order to regain the valuable help they pushed away. The only real apology is ‘changed behavior.’ So, have you changed your behavior, or not?”

“I really have. I swear.”

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“You can’t just keep saying that, it communicates nothing. There’s no proof. No energy. No value in these words. How do I know you won’t just fight my teachings and get defensive the next time I point out an area of improvement?”

“Well I don’t know what else to do other than say sorry.”

“You have to demonstrate change. Changed behavior is the true apology. Can you think of any way to communicate that?”

“How about this: I see how my defensiveness and tears made me an unreceptive student. I see how my dramatic response sent the message that I wasn’t interested in learning or changing. I realize that that’s no way to treat someone who’s taking the time to share years of wisdom on a rare topic. I appreciate you, and I’ll be better going forward.”

“Ah, lovely. Now you’re getting it. Instead of apologizing, you demonstrated your awareness of the situation, dropped blame, and took responsibility. That was your first healthy communication in a new style. It’s much closer to the authentic, honest way you communicated as an infant, with zero masks and layers. That’s a sign of more self-honesty, less bias, and more rational decision-making.”

“Thank you. Does this mean we can keep going?”

“Sure thing. And even better, it’s a step towards walking the ‘clickbait’ line.”

“Oh my god, you’re teaching me something that relates to my post?”

“This all relates to your post. Think about it.

Your post-headline is extremely vital, do you know why?”

“Because it’s the first thing people see?”

“Correct. More accurately, it’s the first energy they feel, since all communication has energy at its foundation. In a song it’s the first note or riff. In a movie it’s the opening scene. You get the picture.”

“I’m with you…
So how can I make clickbait and get upvotes?”

“It’s more like how to avoid clickbait and get upvotes. Do you enjoy clickbait headlines when you come across them?”

“Ew, no.”

“Do they make you click?”

“Sure, for a split-second, then I find out the article is trash and never click that publication again and unfollow them.”

“Right. So you want to walk the line, creating titles that hook people strongly enough to get them to click, but also make it a headline that has truth and honesty at its core. You don’t want it to be an empty clickbait line that your article fails to deliver on, you want it to be a highly clickable line that your article speaks to.”

“What’s this got to do with my apology earlier?”

“Because the first step to writing epic headlines is the awareness to know when you’ve gone too far.

It’s the difference between:

‘The Earth Is Flat And This Undead Pornstar Has Proved Science Wrong’

And...

‘Some People Still Think The Earth Is Flat In 2021: Are They Right?’

But we’ll get back to that. We have more poor communication habits to unpack.”

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“Sounds good, like what? (And I promise you can tell me I suck and I won’t fly off the handle.)”

“You don’t pay attention to your beliefs & moods, thoughts & feelings, while you communicate.”

“What do you mean?”

“What’s the title of your article?”

“My Dream Journal - May 20th, 2021”

“OK, and what were your thoughts when you chose that title?”

“I dunno. I just called it what it is.”

“I figured. And what was your mood when you chose that title?”

“Who knows? I just wanted to get it posted and get those votes ticking up!”

“And that’s my point, you see?”

“Not really.”

“The people with the winning posts are the ones who have put positive thought & feeling into their titles and thumbnails. They think deeply about their target audience and what may resonate with them. They choose their language with care and heart, almost like an amateur copywriter. They give consideration and experimentation to the thumbnail they choose. They treat these two things as if they’re important pieces of communication, and then do what they can to make sure it counts.”

“So, let’s say I sit down and put thought into it, say it with feeling. Instead of 'My Dream Journal,' I write what people want to hear, that will get me the upvotes?”

“Sort of. If you want to communicate well, your focus has to be completely off the upvotes and completely on using words that resonate with people you care about. Do you care about your followers?”

“Of course.”

“Then you’ve gotta act like it. Make choices that show it. Does ‘My Dream Journal’ show a lot of care for the people you’re communicating with? Does it aim to give them value? Excite them? Make them curious? Does it make the time they invest in reading your title worthwhile? Or is it a waste of their time? Be honest, have you ever clicked on a headline like that?”

“Well I’m sure I have once or—”

“Are you defending again?”

“No, no. My bad. I get it, I rarely (if ever) click on titles like that, which is your point, sorry for focusing on outliers.”

“Thank you.”

“So what if I title it like this:

'My Views On Being Woke (#MyDreamJournal - May 20th)'

Would that work?”

“It’s definitely better. Your followers will read those words and feel a bit more of a connection. By mentioning the topic of the post, you’re giving them a taste of the article, but what’s all that other stuff? Is it important? Is that how big media publications get all their clicks? By adding day of the week and hashtags few people care about?”

“I guess not. How about:

'My Controversial Views On Wokeness?'

“Much better. Can you see how that’s far superior to your initial title? And are you able to admit that headline writing is a communication skill that’s worth improving?”

“Yes, I get it. And next time I post, I’m going to write a bunch of titles and see which one is the best.”

“Great, and feel free to ask me or your Mom for feedback if you want to test how your headline resonates with ‘fresh eyes!’ Just know you’ll get better at headlines over time. Effective communication takes practice.”

“But won’t this just turn me into the media?”

“Like I said at the start, all communication requires energy, value, and attention. The media understands this and uses it well. You can either join them, or stubbornly refuse to use their communication techniques. If you choose the latter, don’t be surprised when quality headline-writers steal all your upvotes and you can’t compete or stand out at all.”

“Hmmm… guess I better make peace with the headline game then.”

“Yes. And be careful labeling groups like you just labeled 'the media' too. That’s another language habit that can quickly turn audiences off.”

“Labeling groups like what?

“Like you just did. You used a label (‘the media’) to describe real, living human beings, and you did it with disdain, painting the entire group as something terrible.”

“Are you nuts? I did no such thing.”

“Em, replay the moment in your head. Check the thoughts, feelings, and energy behind your communication.”

“I just asked an innocent question--”

I got up to leave once again. It was clear Emma was going to defend her bitter remark about the media, and I had no interest in dealing with her denial of reality.

Emma leaned forward hastily. “OK, ok, you’re right. Geez. I’m kind of biased against the media. I think they’re yucky. I judge them often, and that attitude crept out in my question. Please stay.”

“Well, you’ve improved at catching yourself, assessing things correctly, and admitting your miscommunications.”

“Yeah, I was lying to myself (and you) to avoid admitting my anger towards journalists. I apologize, and I understand your point. Communication tools have existed for ages, and the media uses them to great effect.

“Yes, and you don’t have to be exactly like them, but hating on them for getting results while you don’t isn’t a mature (or effective) approach. Not to mention labeling groups is a a communication minefield and you’ll want to develop a light-touch here.”

“How?”

“Avoid labels as much as possible.

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Instead of ‘fat’ or ‘thin,’ say ‘people at different parts of their fitness journey,’ for example.”

“Ugh, isn’t this just political correctness?”

“C’mon Emma, this is me. I’m the guy who said even ‘bimbos can succeed at business,’ remember? I’m not timid and sanitizing my language to be politically correct, and I’m not afraid of labels. In fact they’re incredibly powerful tools to resonate with people.”

“Then why avoid them?”

“Because like I said, they’re powerful. Labels are the big guns of language, they can trigger people, accidentally hurt you or others, and even make precise 'upvote hunting’ smooth and effortless.”

“I think you just disproved your own point, Dad. I literally want to use them more now.”

“OK, but honey, how often do you really want to be using a gun around other people? And are you really sure you know how? That you’re qualified? And even if you are, guns are loud and context-dependent, they’re not for common, everyday use, are they?”

“Ah. I see. No they aren’t. And the same goes for labels I guess?”

“Right, maybe you use a label in your headline, to get people’s attention or resonate with a specific group, but I wouldn’t spend your whole article talking about ‘fatties’ versus ‘beauties’, because both labels imply some pretty unpleasant things.”

“What do those labels imply?”

“‘Fat’ implies many things. Sometimes it implies lack of health. Other times it implies low self-discipline. Other times 'genetic-inferiority.' It can offend UFC fighters and sumo-wrestlers. It can distance you from talented people like Oprah. It can imply that not all body types are ‘acceptable.’ It can massively turn off people who are passionate about body-positivity. It’s fine to use the word, it’s not off limits, but like firing a gun, I suggest you use it sparingly and know exactly what you’re doing when you do so.”

“You said I’d get fat eating the double-fudge cake yesterday!”

“I was joking and you knew it. In context. With family. With kind intentions and love in my heart, aiming to bring some joy to your day and encourage you to eat whatever because we both know you’re blessed with a killer metabolism. It’s not saying the label out loud that’s bad, it’s knowing how to use it well. I don’t break it out with strangers or throw it around in my articles non-stop. I know you get this, Em, can we move on?”

“Yeah yeah. How about ‘beautiful?’ Surely ‘beautiful’ is fine to use?”

“They all are, but with care. As soon as you use the label ‘beautiful’, you bring it’s opposite to people’s mind. If you label something as ‘light’, people also think of ‘dark.’ If you label someone as ‘rich’ it makes less-prosperous people think of ‘poverty.’ Imagine someone with low self-esteem who’s out of shape reading your article. Imagine they see your line ‘...but guys, these next tips are only for beautiful people, and I know you’re going to love them...’ what do you think happens inside your low-esteem reader?”

“Well, they probably think something like ‘WTF? These tips aren’t for me because I’m not an hourglass figure?’ Or something like ‘Is she saying I’m ugly?’

“Exactly, and now the reader hates the author of the post (you) for being so cruel.”

“But it was all in her head! I wouldn’t have meant that at all.”

“That’s my point, labels are super-triggering for so many people, regardless of your intentions. I wrote an amazing post on ‘genius’ recently, right? And you know what happened?”

“Knowing you, you got a ton of upvotes for your brilliant take on things?”

“Hardly. Using the label ‘genius’ probably killed it’s chances. Even with my light touch, understanding of communication, and conscious intention to use this label well, it still ruffled some feathers and turned readers off. It was one of my worst performing posts. I probably would have reached more people by going label-less and calling it something like ‘69 Helpful Tricks To Heal Your Mind’ or something. Zero labels involved.”

“But everyone uses labels all the time.

Sarah calls people liberals, woke, divas, and more. She labels herself a staunch feminist. She’s always referring to those people or that group.”

“Uh-huh. And how’s her communication effectiveness? Is Sarah getting fantastic results? Does she make her point clearly and people ‘get it’? Or do they just get triggered, respond with defensiveness, while Sarah gets nowhere? You seriously gonna sling labels around like her?”

“When you put it that way, no. They're basically why our crew doesn’t talk to her anymore.”

“I rest my case.”

“What about people who are proud of their labels? Gay pride for example, or spiritual people?”

“Well, that’s the flipside of labels. If you want to communicate with someone and you use one of the labels they already identify with, they’re likely to resonate with it. Same goes for ideologies. If I join a ‘spiritual’ facebook group and post about ‘manifesting abundance,’ they’ll upvote me. Careful though, if you use language that goes against their ideologies, it can go quite poorly. For example, if I posted about ‘making money’ instead of ‘manifesting abundance’ they’ll downvote me.”

“Aren’t those basically the same thing?”

“Yes, but because most self-proclaimed ‘spiritual’ people believe spirituality means distancing oneself from 'material things', and they see ‘making money’ as quite material, they’ll resist anything phrased in those terms. It’s common for authors posting such things in those groups to be looked down on for it.”

“Sheesh, labels really are a mine-field...

I thought you were going to make communication easier!”

“I am. Once you understand these simple principles, you’ll be able to pull off a lot of ‘communication miracles’ and get the results you want. Besides, labels are actually really simple. I’m not saying to walk on eggshells or be PC, I just want you to understand a key part of communication: Labels put people in boxes. They can empower people if used well, with consent and context, but they’re often just a way to limit or diminish people.

075_Certificate.png

Learn to use labels well, and be careful with them in the beginning. OK?”

“Yes, understood. Thanks for this. It’s an extremely helpful perspective and I can’t believe no one’s clarified labels like this for me before.”

“Well, I do LABEL myself a GENIUS, after all.”

Emma punched me in the shoulder. “So what if I make my headline

‘Unpopular Opinion About Wokeness (Great For Feminists!)’,

I’m using a label but just as a shoutout to people who may resonate. I’m not aiming it at anyone.”

“Brilliant! Yes! And you don’t even need me to tell you so, do ya? You know that headline hits it out of the park, at least compared to your original.”

Emma blushed.

“That’s a nuance of labels I didn’t think you’d get ‘til later. Fast learner.”

“Well, I’m the daughter of a ‘genius’, after all.”

I punched Em in the shoulder this time, so gently it might as well have been a love-tap.

“Alright, ‘genius-daughter,’ let’s step back and look at the big picture again. Can you summarize what you’ve learned so far?”

“Yes. Communication’s purpose is to evolve each individual towards their potential. All communication relies on the foundations of energy, value, and attention. Labels are powerful ‘guns’ of language, and are best used with care… and...um… that’s it?”

“Yes, nailed it. And have you noticed anything interesting about all this?”

“Uh, it’s all stuff nobody teaches?”

“Yes, but anything else?”

“Er,

“Yes these things aren’t commonly known, but the most important part is that it takes a pretty open mind to even consider them.

“Oh, true. I guess I’m just a wonderfully open-minded person then.” Emma’s grin turned up about a thousand watts.

080_Open_Minds.png

“Indeed. I only mention it because effective communication practically requires an open mind. If the entire tribe was close-minded to fire, Zog’s communication would never have had a chance, no matter how precise his grunts and fire-demonstrations were.”

“Makes sense. Actually seems kind of obvious.”

“Sure, right now in the calm light of day, but when our conversation first began and I had solutions, wisdom, and teachings to offer you, how ‘open-minded’ were you then?”

“Oooh, fair point. I, unfortunately, was more close-minded then.”

“Can you tell me why?”

“Because I was emotional? Yeah, that’s it. Because I was emotional.”

“Right. When we’re experiencing increased emotion is rarely the best time to communicate anything complex. A laugh, smile, tear, or scream is about all we’re capable of communicating properly when we’re saddled with increased emotion. Our minds become hyper-focused on whatever prompted our emotions, closing off to most other things. You were closed off to my perspective on things, until I waited out your emotions. If you or I tried to communicate anything substantial during that time, it would’ve gone poorly.”

“So basically you’re saying don’t write a giant rant-post and publish it while I’m pissed off.”

“Yes.”

“But I thought that audiences want emotion-filled writing?

That’s what the media does.”

“Correct. But they don’t create their emotion-filled headlines while they’re furious with a family member. They submit it to their editor, who looks at it with a calm, objective eye, and then chooses the best emotion-sparking words to capture audience-attention. They choose effective communication methods from a place of calm. You can see the same thing from Steve Jobs handling a heckler, or Barack Obama in a debate. You can even see it when your mother pushes my buttons. She knows what to say to stir up my emotions, making me much less effective in our argumen—er—'discussions', at least until I cool off and revisit.

083_Haywire_Emotions.png

Effective communication requires an open mind, minimally ruffled by emotion.”

“Yeah, the best communicators are good at handling new ideas and opposing views without jumping to conclusions, I’ve definitely seen that.”

“Good. Can you tell me why this is so?”

“Hmm. It’s because there’s energy behind all communications, and a haywire emotional energy will be felt by the receiver, and usually turn them off.”

“Just so. You’re really understanding this.”

“Thank you.”

“So in all of my teachings so far, did you catch the brilliant thing you did?”

“Oh yeah, for sure, obviously, I totally did...just...um, refresh my memory?”

“You spoke clearly and directly to your target audience by using an ‘identifier label.’”

“I did?”

“Yes, you added ‘great for feminists’ into your headline.”

“Oh yeah, right. Let me guess, you have something to teach about this too?”

“Yeah, but it’s just a quick one.

Choose & understand your audience, then echo the words in their minds.

Match the energy & value of your communication to the energy & value they already align with. Choose language that matches their beliefs and speaks to them. Just like my ‘spiritual’ folk example.”

“Got it. So if I decide I want to reach all the investors on Hive, my headline should talk about ROI or something, right? And if I want to target all the makeup artists my headline needs words like beautify, makeup palette, etcetera.”

“That’s the gist of it, yes. It can go a lot deeper, because most people have ‘hidden needs’ and ‘hidden objections’ floating around their head as well, which are important to echo back to them in many communications.”

“Hidden needs & objections? Dang, this is getting complicated again.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll get to that more advanced stuff later anyway, let’s keep it simple. Now that you’ve improved your headline game, what do you think comes next?”

“Ummm, knowing you, we’re not cutting straight to the upvotes.”

“Sadly, m’dear, no.”

“Then I guess writing the actual post?”

“Yes, but specifically what next?”

“I dunno, the first sentence?”

“Kind of. The first sentence, or even the first sub-heading is really important, but more important than that is...

The overall promise of your content.

You must have a clear idea of how to deliver on it.

085_Marco.png

If your headline hints at a poem, you’d best deliver one. If it suggests education or edutainment, your article had better teach well. If your headline promises a cute story, the body-text had better provide that.”

“I hear that. I’ve read way too many posts that promise something in the title, then meander into rambling streams of words that go nowhere, or jump from topic to topic.”

“Yep, the same thing happens in conversation. If someone says ‘you’ll never guess what happened’, audience-expectations is that an interesting tale is about to be related. If the speaker just says ‘I ate a meal today, the end,’ that is generally not an interesting tale and the listener will be annoyed. Can you tell me why this happens?”

“Uh, ‘cause people are bad communicators, obvi.”

“Ahem, some are, but I meant do you know why this ‘promise’ happens whenever someone hears a speaker begin to speak, or when they read a headline?”

“Oh, I mean… because people expect stuff. Cause and effect. One thing leads to another. Someone shares a thought, and others expect them to finish it.”

“You got it. Once your opening line has hooked people’s attention, they now have expectations that you’ll have to satisfy in order to get a good result from your post.”

“Oh, you mean like upvotes?”

“Yes, you obsessive little munchkin, among other things.”

“Sweet, so how do I satisfy reader expectations?”

“By making everything you say worth their time.”

“So like… write short posts?”

“Not necessarily. You can watch a short movie in the theatre, or you can watch Lord Of The Rings, the length of the communication doesn’t matter too much, as long as every part of it is worthwhile and necessary to deliver on the promise.”

“I think I get it?”

“Maybe an example will help. Let’s take your 'Unpopular Opinion On Wokeness’ post,’ do you think a good opening line could be ‘Hi guys! I’m pretty new on Hive and thought I’d take a break from all the selfies I’ve been posting recently, and I’m even taking a break from talking about my dog Olive…’?”

“No, and I’m insulted you think I’d write something like that.”

“Oh really now? What’s your first line in your Dream Journal post?”

“Ah, nevermind, we don’t need to look at that--”

“No, you went and opened the door, now we’re gonna go through it together. Come on, load it up on your phone. Read it out, let’s go.”

Emma slipped her phone out of her shorts-pocket and brought her post up faster than I could’ve done. Kids were so tech-savvy these days, but for all their texting, DM’ing, blogging, and so on, most knew so little about communication. I sensed more irony in the situation, but didn’t get to explore it before she started reading aloud.

“Hey Hivers, I’m finally getting around to writing this post of random thoughts I had on cancel-culture and stuff--”

093_Your_Point.png

“Seriously Em? This is what you felt was better? ”

“It’s friendly, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

“Does it deliver on the expectations of Dream Journal?”

“Not exactly, but I will get there later in the post.”

“Does it deliver on your new headline about ‘wokeness’?”

“Well, it mentions cancel-culture.”

“You’re grasping at straws, Em. The fact is, your opening line wastes the reader’s time. They expect you to get to the point. To discuss what you mentioned in the headline. And if you’re going to delay that, then they’re expecting you to do so with good reason, like providing essential background, or a juicy surprise, or a setup or something.”

“Ok! Chill! I get it. Y’know, sometimes you’re pretty mean when you’re teaching.”

“Am I? Or am I stating important facts that no one else has the guts to tell you? Is it possible that I’m teaching you the secrets of good hooks, and opening sentences that get results? Am I doing it in clear, direct terms so there’s no mistake over what’s going on here? Is it possible you just threw out the label ‘mean’ to hide from the truth, put blame on me for your poor writing, and to make yourself feel better? Eh? Hmm?”

Emma’s lip started to quiver. “Sh*t. I did it again. I know you’re not really mean, and I know it takes a lot of guts to dish out real talk like this. And I know my opening line isn’t exactly extreme value for my reader. I just… I dunno. It feels bad that we’ve only covered the first two lines of my post, and they’re both trash.”

I walked over and hugged my daughter. “Em, imagine if you had played basketball in school. You weren’t great, and you learned some really bad habits. Then you lucked out and got a free lesson from Michael Jordan. He literally tore apart the way you stand, hold your arms, the shoes you wear, the way your eyes move towards the ball, everything. Are you gonna feel sad, or just relax and be happy for every tip?”

“Hmm, I’d relax and take notes. You’re right. But I’ve been talking and writing since I was young, it feels worse somehow.”

“Well, elevating communication takes a lot of self-awareness. It takes the ability to change your approach. And hey, there are some communication contexts where your kind of gentle opening line is great. But what’s better for your 'wokeness' post? The thing you wrote, or something like this:

‘If feminists are so woke, why do their twitter rants put me to sleep?’”

“Ooohhhh that’s fire! God I wish I wrote that.”

“You can. After a bit more communication practice.

You clearly enjoy that line, but have you stopped to think about why?”

“It’s catchy? I don’t know, I just like it.”

“It speaks directly to the point. It asks a question. It plants curiosity. It uses resonant language. It echoes the thoughts you have in your own mind. It holds more value & energy, and captures more attention than other lines. And for readers, it’s the start of you delivering on the promise of your headline. Subconsciously, you know all this, which is why you wished you wrote it.”

“Real talk. All that. Would it be more powerful if you added the word ‘always’? Something like

‘If feminists are so woke, why do their rants always put me to sleep?’

Adds extra energy and value, right?”

“Possibly, but...

Generalizing words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ are language-guns too.

They’re so absolute, and often send a limiting message. They suggest that something is a universal law, with no exceptions or room for discussion.”

“Understood. Now that I think about it, they’re one of the first things people pick on in comment sections too. ‘Excuse me? It’s not always, there’s this exception, and this one, and this one…’ It gets annoying.”

“Yep, they can be powerful and spark engagement, but if you’re not interested in the nitpickers, you can avoid them by making sure your communication doesn’t give them too many openings.

On another note, you removed ‘twitter’ which is an important word, since that’s where a lot of rants are happening lately. Using it paints a more relevant image in the reader’s mind. Specifics are effective sometimes, generalities are effective at others. A good communicator learns when to use both.”

“When to be specific vs. general then?”

096_General_Vs_SpecificB.png

“A lot of this stuff is figured out through practice."

"How am I supposed to get that?"

"Em, you miss chances to practice all the time. Just last week you told me you were a ‘spiritual person’, which is vague, general, and unclear. What does that even mean? It makes communication trickier. The week before that you said your friend Mia ‘needed space’, again… unclear and messy to discuss. Does that mean move to a different country? The next room? Or did you mean emotional space, not physical space? These terms may work in poetry or a story, but for communicating a viewpoint, they often muddle things more than they help. Using general terms when clear one’s are called for creates issues. Let’s say you tell somebody ‘meet me at the park’, and they do their best to meet you, but it takes a long time to find each other. Let's say you want to avoid this frustration in the future. What do you do?”

“I’d give a more specific landmark next time.”

“Exactly. Because of your communication practice, you notice something went wrong in your ‘general’, vague communication, so you add specifics next time. Now let’s say someone asks ‘if you want a burger’, and instead of saying ‘yes please’, you ramble on about how you’re a 'vegan now, but you used to eat meat, so you might try a burger, even if it means breaking your vegan rules, but you’re not really sure,' and on, and on.”

“Yuck. I hate people who do that.”

“Sure, but you’ve almost certainly done this at least once, getting way too specific and oversharing way too much detail in a response, simply because you’re passionate or excited about a subject.”

“Eh, maybe. Probably…" Emma rolled her eyes. "Fine, I’ve done it. And I’m assuming the fix is to be more general in this case?”

“Correct. Just say ‘yes please,’ or at the most ‘Yes, if veggie burgers, no thanks if only meat.’ Certain, solid, specific language has its place, just don’t over-rely on it. It’s most necessary when you’re dealing with math, dates, finance, data, and so on. It relies heavily on specifics. Flexible, fluid, fuzzy language has its place as well. This is more about emotion, artistry, and generalities. Going back to our earlier example, when most people use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, they’re making a specific, absolute statement, but it lands awkwardly because they make it about a largely generalized group. You can see why this might go awry.”

“Got it. OK, so, if I want my article to perform, I need to use labels well, master general vs. specific language, and avoid under- or over-sharing... regardless of the length of my post. Which readers will ignore anyway, if I don’t nail down a headline that makes a promise I can deliver, all with resonant language that grabs attention of my intended audience, yes?”

“Hah. When you put it like that it sounds kind of crazy, but that is a decent summary so far.”

“Uh, it is crazy, Dad. No successful author is doing all this stuff.”

“They are, Em. They really, truly, 100% are doing that stuff. They just don’t list it out for you. And they often do it subconsciously. They do it easily and naturally, because they’ve observed good communicators most of their lives. They’ve read a lot. They’ve also practiced a lot. They’ve written tons and paid attention to when their communication goes wrong, and when it lands well. They don’t blame the audience and point fingers, they simply study more, practice more, and master effective communication.”

“So you’re telling me the audience has no part in any of this?”

“I’d never say that. Communication takes two (or more), and the audience plays a major role. If they don’t do their job, even the best communicator will fail.”

“Then I was right to blame Hivers for not upvoting, I can say it’s their fault!”

“Not really.”

“Why not?”

“Because a) you choose what audience you communicate with, b) a good communicator can reach nearly any audience they want, and c) your ‘Dream Journal’ headline and rambling opener makes almost every audience's job impossible.”

“What is the audience’s job?”

“Well, if the author's (or speaker’s) job is to offer information, just as Zog offered his fire-discovery to Grog, what would you say the audience is supposed to do with that offer?”

“They can either accept or reject it, I suppose.”

130_Offer_Idea.png

“Yes, and their job is to do that, moment-to-moment. They may accept your headline and click on your post, but in the next moment, reject your opening sentence, and leave. You don’t realize this, but every time you read (or listen) to someone, you are choosing to either accept what they’re saying into your brain for consideration, then moving onto the next bit of info, or you’re rejecting it, and putting a stop to communication. And your readers are doing the same thing.”

“That seems so simple.

I offer an idea, they accept or reject, and repeat, sentence by sentence.”

“Well, it’s a bit deeper, but that’s the core of it.”

“What else?”

“Well, the audience's job is to seek understanding. They’re doing their job if they’re focusing on your meaning, your core message, and the spirit of your words. They’re not doing their job if they’re nit-picking every term, consciously misconstruing your message, or responding in bad faith.”

“And I suppose it’s my job to be as clear as possible in my communication, so they have an easy time understanding...”

“Yes, and it applies to body-language too.”

“What? I want to know about writing. Why blurt that out so randomly?”

“See? I ‘randomly’ switched topics, and you instantly felt uncertain, confused, and you’re more likely to reject my next statement, right? I made your job of ‘understanding’ where I’m going with all this, difficult. Maybe you’re frustrated that I still haven’t told you explicitly how to rake in the upvotes. Maybe you’re jumping to the conclusion that I won’t deliver on the implied ‘promise’ I made at the beginning of our chat, since I seem to be going off on tangents.”

“Whoa. Are you psychic? Double-you Tee Eff, Dad.”

“I told you, a good communicator echoes the objections and needs of his audience, it makes them feel understood. It increases trust. It makes them feel like their thoughts and feelings have been considered, and it prevents the communication from going off the rails, even if I suddenly start talking about body-language. Which I brought up for a reason.”

“Wow. Point well made. And what is the reason?”

“Because you’ve succeeded as a model.”

“So?”

“So, you’ve used body-language very well your whole life.

Your photo-sets open with a ‘promising tease’. You imply that you’ll deliver some ‘scandalous’ shots. Then to keep people clicking, you order each shot to build up suspense with different poses and gestures. Eventually, you deliver a centerfold shot, and your viewers eat it up, all without words."

"Hello, that makes me a good communicator!"

"It makes you a fluke, someone who communicates in one form, decently by default. It doesn't mean you understand communication. Be honest. Would you say you do the same thing with your writing?”

“Clearly not. But it’s easy for me with body-language. How come?”

“Practice. Practice, practice, practice. You’ve been practicing entertaining with body-language since you were a toddler. You paid rapt attention to all the entertainers on TV. You dressed up in Mom’s clothes since you were little. Your early attempts were pretty bad, and wouldn’t get you in a magazine, but it wasn’t long before you were absolutely crushing it. All for one reason, and one reason only.”

“I practiced.”

“Yes, and you did it with a fun, light heart. You never blamed an audience for the reaction you got. Not once. You just went back to the closet and tried different costumes, and different poses.”

“Which is the approach great authors take with their readers too, I totally get it. This is so clutch, I love it. I’m getting psyched to write a new post and see how it does!”

“Well, hold your horses lil miss. If you post now, you’ll definitely do better, but getting someone to read a post is a lot different than getting someone to engage with a post.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean what I’ve taught you will get you so far, but…

If you want people to take action, you’ll need persuasion.

“I thought all communication’s persuasion, no? We’re all aiming to reach our potential in life, and we use communication as a tool to do that, as best as we’re all able. We persuade people to accept our ideas, whether fire-discovery, or a movie-invitation, yadda yadda yadda.”

“It is but there are lots of persuasion methods amateur communicators ignore, then they wonder why no one responds to what they offer.”

“Oooh, sounds powerful. Will you teach me these persuasion tricks?”

“Well Emma, I’ll hook you up with my guide to Persuasion Basics That Work, but I’ll mention one of them briefly. The trick which gives the most impact for the least effort, is Blair Warren’s One-Sentence Persuasion Trick.”

“I’m all ears. What does Blair say?”

140_Persuasion.png

“He says ‘People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, soothe their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies.’ And it’s pretty reliable.”

“I’m not sure I get it. So like, my dream journal post needed to soothe people’s fears or something?”

“In a way. Blair points out that nearly everything that has ever persuaded you to act has used one or more of the 5 techniques in his sentence. Hitler used them and nearly took over the world. Cult leaders like Jim Jones & David Koresh used them and their followers eagerly died for them. These madmen used them well, but your favorite celebs, influencers, marketers, and salespeople use them too.”

“When I got people to click on all my modeling photos, I wasn’t doing any of them.”

“Yes you were. You targeted an audience of thirsty guys who dream of being close to a beautiful, sexy woman. You tailored your photos to make them feel like they were a step closer to their dreams. Their dull life stuck in a cubicle at a corporation, suddenly had a vibrant young woman willing to show off for them. Compare that to your dream journal post.”

“Ugh, do you always have to be right?”

“I’m trying to give you a leg up in life, so it’d suck if I was constantly saying incorrect things, no?”

“It’s just that I’ve been wrong about a million things in just this conversation. It pisses me off.”

“Well that’s all part of communication. Making other humans feel something. Breaking them out of their auto-pilot day. Oftentimes when we communicate the truth it ruffles feathers and sparks controversy. This can be great for creating engagement and getting shares as people start to ‘buzz’ about the materials we share.”

“Wouldn’t I get downvoted hard by being controversial?”

“You’re on to something there, yes. Posting things that make others feel ‘some kind of way’ also comes with a percentage of haters and people who are… how did you phrase it? ‘Pissed off’ when you share your perspective or your truth.”

“Well I’ve been pretty clear about what I’m after…”

“Upvotes, I know. The thing is, when you share your truth boldly, in a persuasive way, you end up with thousands of upvotes, and only tens of downvotes. If you communicate anything substantial in public, there will always be a vocal minority who passionately argues against you, perhaps even verbally attacks you. Even Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, two of the most loving contributors to humanity ever, had their share of haters. But they got far more upvotes than down, if you take my meaning.”

“So you’re saying don’t pull punches in my writing, just like when I posted my risque photos, then accept the haters, attempted censorship, and verbal attacks?”

“Exactly. And I’m sorry to say, but you won’t be doing that with your ‘Dream Journal’ post.”

“Sheesh. My poor post is really getting torn a new one today. But yeah, I can see how it was pretty weak on persuasion and definitely not a ‘bold truth’ in any way.”

150_Controversy.png

“I’m glad this is clicking for you. Do you want to keep learning, or is this enough for now?”

“This is a lot to process, and I think it’s best if I actually do some work on it. You emphasized practice, right?”

“Right! Great attitude, a lot of people are just passive students, soaking up info and doing nothing with it, I’m glad I raised my daughter better than that.”

“Thank you. So I’ll spend the rest of the day writing my next piece, and aim to apply what you taught. Maybe we can talk more tomorrow?”

“Sure, but remember the lesson about specific language, is ‘let's talk tomorrow’ general, or specific? What’s called for when setting up a lesson with someone? Should you leave it up in the air, or really nail down specifics?”

“Understood, ok, let me try communicating my offer again. I’d love to pick up where we left off tomorrow at the breakfast table, 9am please, does that work for you?”

I smiled. It was nice to see my little girl becoming so smart and capable. She’d navigate the world well by committing to meetings in this way. It puts her way ahead of most ‘flakes.’ I was honored to share what I could with her and thrilled she was eager for more. “Yes, my pleasure. See you then, Em.”

“See you!”

Emma skipped out of the living room, excited to try out her new knowledge.


CONTINUED IN PART 2.

Due to Hive's post-size limits, part 1 ends here. Return to this sentence for a link to PART 2, which will be posted in about an hour. (Edit: Part 2) Thanks for reading!

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