I’ve noticed that many communications pros pay a great amount of attention to tactics: what medium to use, what words to say, how often to reach out to your audience.
I tend to pay attention to strategy: whom are you trying to reach, for what purpose? What will they do if you succeed in engaging them?
Patricia Ryan Madson thinks we should be paying attention to people–the way improv artists do.
In her book Improv Wisdom, Madson reminds us that communications is a two-way street. Whenever there’s another person involved, prepare to be surprised! Here is some of her advice on how to open yourself up to the other person and the present moment.
- Say yes. When you get a chance to meet someone new, have a different conversation, or entertain a new idea, take it! Instead of “no” or “yes, but” try “Yes, and what would it take to make that happen?”
- Look and listen. Avoid multitasking so you can pay attention to one thing at a time. Don’t plan your next response: listen to what the other person is saying. Accept people as they are and continue the conversation.
- Be kind to others. Being considerate is key to getting other people’s attention, and you will benefit yourself.
- Be generous to yourself. Don’t feel like a failure if you can’t plan or control everything. Be willing to do and say the obvious: sometimes that’s exactly what people need to hear! You can’t do everything, so look for the things that you do best, that might not get done without you. Be willing to make mistakes, and act anyway. Have fun.
Now, I will admit, some of this is tough advice for me to follow. I usually improvise better with a plan in hand! When I think about the teaching, tutoring, and training I’ve done, however, I see what Madson means. The most important thing a teacher can do is to pay attention to the people there with her or him to come up with what the students need. Isn’t it the same with social media?