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Communication: “Shipping News” Your Writing

Communication: “Shipping News” Your Writing

One very influential book in my collection of such books is Annie Proulx’s THE SHIPPING NEWS. It looks a little out of place next to Covey’s THE 8TH HABIT, Welch’s WINNING, etc. But there’s a great reason it’s there.

The book is about a man moving to Newfoundland and landing a job at a small newspaper. Quoyle’s not particularly bright, but this isn’t much of a hinderance. Newfoundland is an island off the upper east coast of Canada (and somewhere I’d love to live), and it’s sparse, but gorgeous.

Shipping News as a Verb

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What separates Proulx’s writing in this book from most books you’ll read is how sparse her sentences are. They’re short. Each one is tiny. They don’t even always fit with grammatical correctness. Something like this.

Are you getting it?

Now, what I’m saying is this: people get TONS of things to read in a day. My day-job email is clocking about 200 emails a day. My second life email is around 100. When I get a missive, I have to scan. I don’t have time to read every volume or tome that comes my way.

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Not to mention blog posts. I scan over 100 blogs a day, and that requires the same treatment.

Suggestions

  • Mix short sentences in with long.
  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Break up text with subtitles (like this post).
  • Give visual queues, even if it breaks grammatical form. (Look up at my “Are you getting it?” line).
  • Use small words where you can. (Don’t say “obfuscate” when “confuse” or “distort” will do.)
  • Put really important stuff up top.
  • Close with action.

Close With Action

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In emails, blog posts, and most correspondence, the writer assumes something that’s not entirely true or accurate. The writer assumes that the reader will diligently read all the way to the bottom of the post or email, and that everything will be absorbed as if there will be a test on it tomorrow. Not so.

One way to get repeatable “full reads” of your email/post is to ensure a call-to-action at the bottom. You can be explicit: “Action Items: Dave- write a review for the site” , or you can be a little more soft-shoe. “I really want your advice on this. Drop me a line when you have a moment.”

Get your readers into the habit of fininshing your emails/posts, and it pays off. But that’s a promise you have to act upon. You have to promise to make all your emails and posts WORTH reading, and with a payoff based on the content you provide. Only then will there be the proper relationship between you and your intended audience.

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Does this work for you? I’d like to know.

–Chris Brogan’s most recent call to action is to co-found PodCamp, a FREE unConference about audio and video podcasting being held in Boston on Sept 9-10 at Bunker Hill Community College (venue sponsored by Museum of Science, Boston. Come meet the producer of the Life Hack podcast at PodCamp.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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