Conversations with Lee Thayer, a former client in my now closed publishing business, were challenging in a unique sort of way. A former college professor and author of numerous books on communication and leadership, Thayer was and still is a consummate debater. Few people alive today get the better of Lee Thayer in any conversation. If I learned little else from Thayer, I learned that a good question is often the best answer when you’re unsure of how to reply.
We challenge ourselves with Lee Thayerisms throughout our journey at Your Publishing Pros, but today, let’s take a quote of his, along with the quote above from George Bernard Shaw and see what we can make of it in the world of communication – and discover how it fits in with my ‘dark and stormy night’.
In Thayer’s book, How Executives Fail, Recipe 21 deals with communication. “People assume,” Thayer writes, “that because they make noises out loud, or scribbles on paper, and because other people respond in some more or less reasonable way, they have ‘communicated.’ And we further assume that all the misunderstandings that occur just go with the territory.”
Where does this put us, we #womenofdistinction who strive for success, clear communication, and excellence in management? How are we to study, learn and implement communication throughout our organization with any modicum of success when the act of communication itself defies us, according to Shaw and Thayer?
Perhaps, just perhaps, there is a way.
Perhaps, just perhaps, we should study and understand purple prose a little better.
Florid: elaborately or excessively intricate or complicated.
Melodramatic: characteristic of melodrama, especially in being exaggerated, sensationalized, or overemotional.
I submit that it’s in returning to the story, embracing a bit of purple prose now and then, remembering all those dark and stormy nights of your youth, and learning to create imagery and excitement around your conversations or business writings, that you will find yourselves rising to greater success. Should you be florid in your conversations, you ask with a quizzical gaze. Perhaps not. Melodramatic? Not much. But, yes, you should learn to speak with descriptive phrases, speak with intent that is as much storytelling as it is conversation. Make something of those dark and stormy night because when they are over… you have a rainbow, or a startling sunrise full of hope and expectation.
I say you put away your business books for a week or two. Bring out the latest popular novel, in a genre you enjoy. Get over to Good Reads and see what your colleagues are reading. Allow yourself to go back to grade school where you were taught how to read, in books that enticed your senses, sparkled with descriptive prose, brought you to tears or laughter, because the story was strong, it was alive, it spoke to you and enveloped your whole being, taking you to a world that existed in where the deepest desires you have exist. Travel back to those days gone by, and remember…that while you were reading that classic novel, you were learning so much more than you understood.
- You learned to pay attention, lest you miss an important detail, like the main character’s fatal flaws.
- You learned new words, maybe you stopped to look them up or intuitively understood them through the context of the writing.
- You learned that reality is tenuous and in the stories of your youth it was bigger, better, stranger, louder, and more amazing than it can ever be in real life.
Is it just me or has the world gone crazy with short – short punchy notes on Twitter; short blog posts that hint at something important without revealing the truth; short attention spans because the next big thing is just around the corner and if we don’t hurry to find it, we’ll miss it?
Short is not always better. It can be, certainly. But, my goal is to bring substance back to conversations and writing. In business, you would do well to bring some purple prose to your writing and speaking. It’s time to learn how to tell the story … bring the purpose of your writing and speaking to life; share the melodramatic, the descriptive, the emotional; remember the story of you and your purpose and tell it out loud.
We’ll be discussing this in more detail here. Your Publishing Pros is all about stories and how to tell them well. We’ll teach you when to use purple prose and when not to. We’ll teach you how to make the story fit the need. We’ll teach you how to make the story the focal point. We’ll teach you how to use words wisely. Because…after all, we take words seriously, here.
We are emotional beings, we humans. Women, especially, bring their emotions to bear on most everything they do. Of late, we’ve moved away from the power of our emotions, as if adapting a blank look or soft smile ala Mona Lisa, was or is, necessary to succeed in a business environment so overpoweringly dominated by men.
The opposite is true. As women, our deepest emotions serve us well, our ‘hunches’ pan out, our feminine side guides us to a collective solution to problems. It’s in our humanity as women that we will make a difference and change the world. It’s in finally refusing to ignore our core being, our purpose in life, the substance of our very being… that we will generate the stories of tomorrow, to tell our children and grandchildren.
The dark and stormy night of your youth has much to share, don’t let it evaporate into the dark and stormy night of your present life. Embrace it. Write it down. Add all that purple prose. You can always edit it out. The business you have created, are creating, or want to create has a story attached to it. Learn to bring that story to life. Tell it with energy, vigor, excitement and purpose. Your audience demands the story.
#womenofsignificance have GREAT stories to tell. Let’s journey together on a great storytelling adventure – and take over the world.