We’ve all heard the old cliché. Somebody wants to break up without hurting feelings, so they insist the break-up has nothing to do with their attraction to the other person.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
Does anyone ever really believe that?
But when you think about it from a communications perspective, the old adage couldn’t be more true.
“It’s not you, it’s me.” In other words, “It’s not what you say, it’s what I hear.”
Perception is reality in communications. Our personal experiences, opinions and even level of education often color and distort what we hear other people say to us. Your audience can easily read things into a message that you never intended to convey. Or they can be completely confused by language that you thought was very plain and simple.
This is compounded by today’s use of email and social networking on the Internet because we don’t have any context for the message. We can’t see if the person is smiling or winking or angry — emoticons aside.
It’s really important to consider more than just the statistical demographics of your audience when crafting a targeted message. You need to understand their specific frame of reference to keep your message from getting mixed up or worse, just plain going over their head.
Which reminds me of another old cliché… To make sure your audience hears what you actually meant to say, first put yourself in their shoes.