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Tearing down the walls

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By Kath Walters

What’s between you and your reader? When it comes to writing, this is a useful question. A big part of great writing boils down to removing the barriers that get in the way of understanding, empathy and entertainment.

Ho ho, ha ha ha

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” – Belgian comedian, Victor Borge.

Yesterday, I went to a master class called Lead With Humour. Stand-up comedian Robi Mack, and business storyteller, Yamini Naidu, showed me and the other participants how to use humour in business communication.

Humour is great for removing barriers.” Melbourne blogger, Kath Walters.

I realised I don’t have to be Ricky Gervais to tell a joke or two. It was the funniest morning I’ve had in years; uplifting and connecting. By evening, I feel like a nun in a brothel, making up for lost time.

Pull the weeds

I spoke recently to a leader whose first action when he took the role was to remove the office walls that separated his staff from their managers. It’s pretty hard to communicate well through a wall.

Words themselves can act as barriers, too.

Adverbs and qualifiers are common offenders. Like walls, they stand between us and our readers. You might recognise some: really, very, quite, rather, somewhat, more, most, less, least, too, so, just, enough, indeed, still, almost, fairly, really, pretty, even, a bit, a little, a (whole) lot, a good deal, a great deal.

How often do we really need these words in our writing? Question every one, and weed them from your second draft.

The more we care, the more we dare

The tougher our message, the more empathy and rapport we need to communicate in our writing. To build that rapport and lower the barriers, be inclusive.

It’s difficult inform without lecturing. Our intentions to be helpful are hijacked by a hectoring tone that creeps in when one piece of advice follows another. (Get it.) To shift the tone, simply show that we share many problems.

The barriers between us fall when we let them. Picture life without barriers. No pride or fear. Nothing between you and your readers but a laugh. It’s a beautiful world.


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