The Art of Authentic Communication (Be The Glass Goblet)
“You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than to hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.”
Back in 1932 a lady named Beatrice Warde used that metaphor in a speech to the British Typographers Guild. The speech itself debated whether design should embellish or elaborate the printed word. Over 80 years later the same metaphor can still be applied to modern forms of business communication.
These days the ’embellishments’ that business communicators use range from a tidal wave of information to overt creativity. Some modern day embellishments include:
- Information overload designed to give the impression of knowledge.
- The website (or other advertising) that tries too hard to be creative and ends up drowning out the message.
- Social media gimmicks that serve no purpose other than to falsely inflate statistics.
- Unnecessarily complicated language and buzzwords used in attempt to appear intelligent.
All of these things generally fail. Why? Because people are looking for genuine connection. They want to know what you think, what you know that affects them, and how you feel about the subject at hand – and they want it in a way they can understand.
Be more like the ‘glass goblet’ that reveals what’s inside and less like the bright shiny object that lacks real substance.