Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

A few weeks ago someone got in touch with me on LinkedIn–they’d seen my Build Yourself+ workshop in Fast Company, and had a service that I assumed they wanted me to use, or they wanted to partner with me.

They asked if I wanted to meet when they were in town and I wanted to find out if we had enough shared interest. I asked them what their company did. They gave me an explanation which was about their ambition. “We are using technology to enable…” “We are democratizing….”

I asked this person to respond more clearly what the actual offering was and to whom.

The thing is, usually someone won’t ask you to clarify.

They’ll just look at your profile and make a quick decision about whether you are relevant to them. I don’t want to blame it on the tinder-like world we live in (swipe right or swipe left) but whatever the explanation, it’s true,

We want to describe what we do in these high terms–it helps us feel important and like we’re on a mission, it helps us feel unique, but if it’s at the expense of meaning, it’s not helpful.

I recently looked at how I’ve been describing myself in my intro to guest posts for the Somerville Beat:

Today’s post comes from Mia Scharphie, a multidisciplinary designer, researcher and community advocate who works at the intersection of design, entrepreneurship and issues of social equity. 

Gosh, what a mouthful.

I research, I design information, products, spaces and experiences. Usually for clients who are engaged in social change.

The end.

It’s not easy to say what you mean and mean what you say when you are offering something slightly unique, or a special combination of skills, or a particular worldview and methodology. But if you don’t learn how to say it plain, no one has the time to drag it out of you.

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