Communicating Across the Twilight Zone: Can You Hear Me Now?

Sections of this topic

    It’s well established in Dr. John Gray’s best-selling book, Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, that males and females communicate differently when trying to relate to each other on different levels. While it’s a slippery slope in the universe of communications to equate this gender-based metaphor to the public relations arena, slide with me for a moment as we slip into the Twilight Zone where what you say to the public or your target market may not be heard the way you intended it to be…..

    You may have hammered out your message for your latest news release on Thor’s mighty anvil or poured over it with your PR contact until you were both soaked in sweat (sorry it’s summer — and I am out of old Greek god references). You might have trained to handle the tough questions on TV with smart sound bytes until you broke the retainer budget for the month. But something went wrong: You were not heard right.

    Maybe a nuance was missed. Maybe you used a word or expression that doesn’t play well in one part of the country but works just fine in your backyard. Maybe you simply mis-framed what your message was and now you are forced to play the “I misspoke” card or resort to “let me try and rephrase that” line. And that’s okay…. happens all the time. But it doesn’t have to.

    It wasn’t what you really said that made your bucket bottom fall out, it was how you were heard. Language is tricky. Communicating is a highly dynamic and fluid situation. Always consider your word choices wisely. Make your verbs the right ones, the verbiest, you might say. Can you pen something differently so that it gets heard right the first time?

    Turn the tables and consider how your message will fall across that greater distance — and it is a kind of Twilight Zone — between you and the object of your communications. Your choice of words might suit the aims and intentions of whatever it is you are trying to convey. But how people hear it and more importantly, how they relate to it, is ultimately what counts.