Writing

SAY THIS, NOT THAT: A FOOLPROOF GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATIONsaythis

Alasko, Carl (Tarcher, January 2014, ISBN 9781585429325)

The usual advice on what they call ‘effective communication’ says that you should think of yourself as a guide. Working through ideas he or she already understands, you hope to guide the other party to where he or she can see your meaning for him or herself.

No doubt it works when you go to buy vegetables from your grocer. There, you and the grocer have the same goal.

But when you write, you and the reader have different goals. You want to say something new. The reader, or opponent, as you should think of him or her, wants you to say something he or she knows already.

As you seek to cut off the widest avenues for misinterpretation, the reader will strain for ever more improbable alternatives. As you fight to choose what you will say, the reader will fight all the harder to contort your words into something he or she has already heard said elsewhere.

Elemental needs lock you in battle, but you needn’t grit your teeth. Rather, open yourself to the exhilaration of a struggle that recreates in miniature the struggle of your life, Ihr Kampf, to present what you see as yourself as they strive to turn you into something they can understand better.

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