Communication does count

I’ve often been skeptical about my own trade: communication. A lot of emphasis is being put on marketing, advertising and sales, all of which I’m not fond of, to make an understatement. But then during my very first session during Crafting {:} a Life someone reminded me of the true value of communicating the right way.

We were talking about how to learn to ask better questions and make the person you talk to feel heard. This topic was introduced by someone who works as a vet and gives classes to students. As a vet it is important to retrieve the right information of your client and make them feel comfortable. The three things he teaches his students:

  1. Gathering information through open ended questions;
  2. Reflective listening;
  3. Empathy.

During our discussion the vet revealed insurance companies lower fees for those who attended these communication courses. Insurance companies don’t give rebates for no reason, so there must be data to support that communication skills do matter. I’m glad I was reminded of this.

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Crafting {:} a Blog

With so many old school bloggers in the room, discussions about blogging were imminent during Crafting {:} a Life. Some never stopped blogging, but were lonely writers for a long time, such as Peter. Others have moved their writing to the corporate silo of Facebook, and then there are people who refound their joy of blogging, such as Ton and me.

I’m glad the event created a space to not only reminisce, but also project a path forwards. Reconnecting to the lost trade of distributed conversations shared publicly, using indie web technology. The discussions even resulted in Rosie setting up a blog.

One of the things that I heard myself saying during one of the sessions was to lower your expectations for sharing online. I noticed during my own FB detox that I got so used to the social media metrics of scoring views, likes and comments, that letting go of them felt like social abandonment. Now that I’ve cleansed this from my system I’m all the more focused on the few connections that matter. I’ve stopped measuring traffic and will only know if you read this when you leave a comment (or web mention). Apparently most of the bloggers in the room did the same thing, acknowledging how much of a relief that was.

Peter never stopped writing because he wanted to document his thoughts, mainly for his son so when he grew older, he could read back about the first years of his life. So his intended audience was one. The most valuable one. If I look back on Peter’s blog, that audience of one resulted in developing a very unique style. Only Peter can write like Peter about Peter’s life. That is the reason why it’s so much fun to read his blog.

For me blogging has always been about thinking out loud, because only when I try to formulate my ideas, I actually know what I’m thinking. Often, while typing, I see fallacies in my own thoughts. There are numerous thoughts that I erased and never published, because they were not holding up once out of my head. So my audience of one is me, but I do like that my actual audience is slightly bigger. The fact that Peter comments every now and then, reveals him as my most loyal reader. And I do hope that my writing is of the authentic quality as Peter’s is.

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Bonjour Montréal

It is half past nine in the morning and while the Man is applying sunscreen (it will be up to 32°C here today) I enjoy the view on the old harbour. We took a taxi to the city centre. It took a while since it was Monday morning rush hour. The driver called the roads in Montreal of Afghan quality and although I’ve not been there myself, I understand what he means. The Man and I make the same jokes about Belgian roads. Though it was a long drive, the driver played the classical radio station and we both felt very relaxed despite the frantic stopping and going that is part of navigating traffic jams. Looking forward to strolling around the city for a few hours before we’re heading to the airport and fly home.

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Leaving PEI

My days on the island have come to an end. Within an hour a plane will take me to Montreal. Crafting {:} a Life has been such an amazing event. It was inspired by the unconferences Ton and I organised and Peter, Catherine and Oliver did an excellent job to translate it to their own context.

I want to congratulate the three of them on pulling it of. They, together with all of us participants, managed to create a save space within a day so that someone dares to ask for coffee conversion therapy, because drinking it was prohibited in the community they very recently left.

I hope the three of you will see the ripples this event creates in your community, both offline and online. Connections were made that will last a lifetime. I’m glad I was part of that.

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Crafting {:} a saga

In one day.

Yesterday was do-day of the conference. I didn’t propose any discussion on the first day, but wanted to do something today: write a story inspired by this event. I also wanted to invite other people to contribute to the story.

In the end only my friend Rob P joined me in the morning, but it was the best partner to brainstorm ideas about the story plot.

I started out with a big paper sheet and stickies to collect ideas and elements. We then identified two crises and started putting the stickies an a curve. This was all with elements of real life, but I wanted it to be a fictional story, so together we started generating ideas for location, character names, crises events based on those real life experiences. Since it was just the two of us, we decided to walk pit of the venue and have a proper coffee at Receiver’s. A great decision, since we came up excellent character names.

And then came the hard part. Writing the story. This was a solitary job, and I spent the next five hours writing it. I got stuck with the storyline at first so I went back to putting stickies on the sheet of paper to map the story line in a logical linear order. I asked Rob to think along and then things fell into place and the writing started to flow.

It turned out to be a saga and I got the chance to read it out loud to all participants before desserts. It was a first draft, so it felt like standing naked in front of a crowd, but the audience was captivated and after finishing I looked up and saw Peter crying. I struck a chord. And he was not the only one. I received to many compliments of pretty much all of the people Peter managed to bring together for two days, telling me it brought tears to their eyes.

Mission accomplished.

P.S.: the story needs editing and re-editing before I can publish it, but it will be available soon.

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