I'm subscribed to a handful of newsletters. Normally, they're quite marketing-heavy, but help me staying ahead of trends.

But a few of some are quite … personal. Those I consider nuggets. One of them is written by Derek Sivers.

A couple of weeks, he wrote down how to ask your mentors for help. Then he asked his newsletter subscribers for thoughts, so here we go!

Look, I'm preferring written communication whenever possible. Often you hear, that this is bad, because you're lacking additional input sources like mimics, tone of voice bla bla bla.

But I grew up on the web. I know it is possible to communicate effectively online. But you need to prepare more. Reflect more. Think more about a response was meant. It helps if you „assume positive intent“.

Written communication has some major upsides:

  • It is written. That is, recorded. You can go back and see. You can easily search and analyse it.
  • It is asynchronous. That is, you have more leeway to think about and improve over your words to make sure it carries the message in the way intended. Plus, you can deal with it when it fits your schedule best! Not to forget you have time to research so to make a better argument.
  • We have more tools available. Sure, rhetorics is trained since thousands of years. But parsing voice and faces etc. with computers is only possible recently. On the other hand, we have quite some experience with estimating understandability, tone etc.

Who says, you can't apply lessons learned from rhetorics to written talk? Here also it is important to tell a story. That means, stating the audience, providing context (who is acting, what is the problem, what do you want to achieve, what did you try? What are the options?)

Turns our this is exactly what Derek is doing, too. Plus, he experienced something, Atlassian describes as Rubber Chicken. I'm quite sure, you have experienced something similiar yourself, too: You're about to ask a friend or colleague for some help. Therefore, you think about what to ask for. How to phrase it. By doing that it suddenly clicks and you found the answer to your question yourself!

Thinking about it, I will likely put up a cheatsheet about what to keep in mind on writing. I have some links in my backlog for further reading, too ;-) Also it could cover some strategic approach about thinking logically.

Share your thoughts! This blog accepts WebMentions ;-)