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Hashtag: Where Did This #phenomenon Begin and Why Do We #love it (but only on Twitter)?

Hashtag: Where Did This #phenomenon Begin and Why Do We #love it (but only on Twitter)?

The very first hashtag EVER was #barcamp by Chris Messina. Due to this initial successful tryout (against the Twitter boss‘s wishes) we now see hashtags as the first place to find information on the latest news and events on a global scale. Things happen on Twitter through hashtags faster than breaking news programs are able to catch them—the result being that Twitter is now a primary resource for many news stations.

Messina was inspired by Flickr tags to try to get the trend started on Twitter. As a short form of communication, tags/hashtags seemed like a good way of organizing brief exchanges and sharing. And he was right.

From humble beginnings, the hashtag has come to dominate social media platform Twitter. Back in 2009, hashtags were initially talked about as “Twitter groupings”. Four years on, we don’t need that explanation any more.

Hashtag your heart out

The capabilities of hashtags go beyond simple categorising information and discussing events. Hashtags also convey complex emotional responses, context and language styles. As your Twitter profile becomes more and more a part of your personal and professional identity, your choices of hashtags are interpreted by the public as part of your character. This is also true of corporate accounts (and if you weren’t there to see it happen in Twitter, you can now search for hundreds of articles telling you why every company now needs a Pinterest account).

The hashtag is the “smiley” that Twitter doesn’t have. With hastags, you don’t need to scroll through a list to choose the image best representing your emotional state. You can simply invent it on the spot, and combine multiple complex feelings as well as situational context

#MondayMornings #coffee #power

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If you’re short on inspiration, you can also choose from a list of trending or common hashtags. It’s also a pretty efficient way of keeping up with new abbreviations and trending invented words. This all matters a hell of a lot if you work in marketing.

#TGIF

Hashtag hot gossip

The hashtag is a quick route to get a discussion going with anyone in the world on a topic. It is an open and free environment in 140 characters. It can also open the door to Twitter wars: many people have sat on the sidelines watching in glee as Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor sparred over women’s roles in the entertainment (there it is: I finally mentioned Miley Cyrus in an article). Although deep down we suspect that all the big Twitter accounts are run by a few PR professionals, it’s still kind of exciting to think we may be directly communicating with names that we would otherwise have absolutely no way of connecting with at all.

#LouisCK #inappropriate #gottaloveit

Reminder: do not to believe a lot of what goes around on Twitter before proper news reporting has actually been done on it. And beware of fake accounts. But do watch a few parody accounts—they can be golden (e.g. Mundane Bond).

mundane-bond-twitter
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    Hashtag group hug

    Community in a fast-moving tech universe is an addiction. This is obvious from people’s need to share and connect on the many social media platforms available to them. Twitter is often quoted as the most narcissist-encouraging of these platforms.

    #badhair #ugly #hugme #tears

    Whilst it is a method of reaching out to the people, it’s also an invitation for trolls to magnify your plight with sarcasm and often plain cruelty.

    Hashtag lead balloons

    1) Hashtag integration with G+ (auto-generated)

    2) Facebook (not taking off so fast)

    Despite the hashtag culture on Twitter, it has not spread to Facebook and Google+ in the same manner. G+ took the approach of integrating hashtags (i.e. when you post, G+ adds a hashtag on the top right automatically, so your post is categorised for you). Facebook, like Twitter, allows you to attach the hashtag yourself. Perhaps what’s going wrong with Facebook is that it was established without hashtags in the early days. There’s also the issue that if you put a hashtag on your post, it becomes publicly visible to anyone clicking on that hashtag. Facebook is highly personal. Twitter is public and about quickfire info sharing. What is Google+? Perhaps until it develops a clear identity the hashtag will remain an ambiguous character.

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    Hashtag house rules:

    If you want your hashtagged information to be popular rather than spammy, this flowchart explicitly tells you how to do it.

     

    hashtag

      I <3 hashtags

      Hashtags bring out the ordinary in the most seemingly unreachable of people. There is some comfort to be had knowing that The Rock is having a caramel frappucino and damn, is it tasty this morning #winning (note: that was 100% invented by me).

      Here’s an example of “how not to” and “how to” hashtag:

      how-not-to-hashtag
        how-to-hashtag
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          Hashtags are loved because of how easy they are to apply (for users), and how funny it can be to read the messages of those who have gotten it completely wrong (for the observers). The famous YouTube sketch with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon says it all.

          Using #hashtags makes you #cool.

          Complaining about #hashtags makes you #cool.

          It’s a win/win!

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          Published on May 18, 2021

          How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

          How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

          We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

          The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

          Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

          Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

          Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

          There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

          Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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          Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

          We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

          Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

          A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

          The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

          Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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          Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

          Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

          Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

          While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

          Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

          These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

          Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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          Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

          Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

          Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

          Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

          Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

          Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

          As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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          This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

          Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

          Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

          These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

          Actions Speak Louder Than Words

          Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

          Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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          Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

          More Tips Improving Listening Skills

          Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

          Reference

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