Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dealing With Our Contradictory Nature

Perhaps the one characteristic we as human share more than any other is that we are a mass of contradictions. We want to be alone. We want to be part of groups. We are benevolent. We are selfish. We want to be independent. We want guidelines. We are self serving. We are generous. We stick to the truth. We shade the truth. We have violent tendencies. We desire peace. And on and on it goes. It is no wonder that our evolution has been in zig-zags rather than a straight line. It is also no wonder that we miss-communicate as much as we do. Given our many contradictions, it is amazing that one can find any meaningful threads of consistency within us at all.     

The ultimate challenge of communicators is to step into that briar patch and try to bring some kind of order into the chaos that is part of our nature as humans and then seek ways to bring people together despite their multitude of differences. Talk about "mission impossible." If ever there was one, this is it. Part of people's contradictory nature is the fact they want to want to travel their own path while at the same be accepted by others and even belong to some type of group or organization. The challenge of communicators is to acknowledge both of those elements within us, yet in a way that reconciles them. Coming up with the messaging to make that happen is most definitely an art and a science.

Successful communication has a limited shelf life. What works today will in all probability not work tomorrow because perspectives and priorities people have one day are not always what they will have the next. Plus, there are outside forces that affect messages constantly. Facts may remain the same but one's perception of them may not. Consequently, communicators face the daunting task of reinventing messages and redoing outreach strategies.  It is not necessarily a matter of fixing what is wrong or making better what has been put forward. Rather, the challenge is to come up with something different. For communicators, it is a never-ending story.

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