Advertising
Advertising

The Power of Jimmy Olsen

The Power of Jimmy Olsen

Oh, sure, you can see why Superman’s all great and wonderful and all that, but you know what? He took off. Just after Superman 2 (in movie continuity), the Big Blue Boy Scout takes off to go check out a rumor. This little jaunt leaves Earth without someone to catch all those falling planes for five years. But do you know who stayed around?

Jimmy Olsen.

Advertising

I know a real world Jimmy Olsen (not his real name), and spoke with him at length fairly recently. I had almost written him off in some regards, because I was blinded by the fact that he really wasn’t a superhero. (I use the term “superhero” often in my life to refer to people who exhibit what Seth Godin might call “purple cows:” people who are remarkable). Jimmy Olsen isn’t a superhero, doesn’t wear shiny blue tights and a red cape, and doesn’t fly around. But you know what Jimmy does?

Advertising

  • Jimmy is Loyal– Superheroes have lots of stuff on their plates. They run around, try new things, solve things. And sometimes that doesn’t work out so well. Jimmy doesn’t talk smack. Instead, he’s really supportive and eager to hear what you’ve got to tell him about your world-saving adventures.
  • Jimmy is a Connector– Because he’s so friendly and easygoing and loyal, Jimmy blends well with lots of crowds. This means that lots of folks don’t mind having Jimmy around. Sure, they don’t always notice him, but he’s there. And he’s in. He’s connected. He gets invites based on this, and that means he’s communicating with people all over the place.
  • Jimmy is Thorough– Superheroes can’t sweat the small stuff. They are knocking down buildings and kicking the poop out of monsters and bald guys — er, bad guys. But Jimmy’s got the time to go get all the details straight. He makes sure you’ve got your desk and stapler and your coffee mug, Clark, even though you’ve been nowhere for five years. Jimmy’s that way. He makes sure you remember things, like people’s birthdays.

Two things really quick: Yes, I’ve heard of that Seinfeld episode. Also, Jimmy can be a girl. This is just a character sketch. Now, as we last left our heroes (or his friend)…

Advertising

  • Jimmy’s got Heart– Truly, if you look past the glasses, the tie, and past the big red “S,” there’s a lot of conflict there. It’s tough being an illegal alien, even if you can melt things. But Jimmy, well, he’s got lots of heart. People who are Jimmy Olsens are the type who really believe from the bottom of their heart that this is the right thing to do. They’re passionate. They’re zealous! They want to knock this ______ out of the park.
  • Jimmy Lifts Everyone Up– Can you imagine Jimmy talking smack to Lois? Not a chance. The Jimmys of our world say great things in public, praising everyone so liberally, you just gotta want to get in line. And if they’ve got something bad to say, you can be sure there’s no tape recorders rolling and it’s off the record. Jimmy, after all, wants everything in life to be picture perfect.

Make sure when you’re off hacking life in your own special superhero costume that you keep a Jimmy Olsen on your team. It’s important to have and accept all types to your teams, even if they can’t bend steel with their bare hands. It’s easy to miss the importance and power of Jimmy Olsen when looking around at the true superheroes in your organization. But it’d be at your peril to forego having someone as loyal, connected, thorough, full of heart and cogratulatory on your side.

–Chris Brogan is much more of a Batman fan. He writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and is organizing PodCamp Boston, a FREE unconference Sept 9-10 in Boston. Meet Chris at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario, CA, on Sept 29-30.

Advertising

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Communication

1 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place 2 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 3 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 4 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 5 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

Advertising

Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

Advertising

How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

Advertising

Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

Read Next