"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thoughts on communication

Part two of snippets from my journal on leading a department

* Words matter. Choose them carefully.
* The leader who speaks rarely is often the most listened to.
* When you talk a lot, people quit listening.
* Keep sentences short. Use bullets. Except when you want to fake something, obscure it, puff it up so administrators can’t tell what you mean and will approve it because they think it sounds impressive.
* Avoid cliches in speaking and writing. They indicate a lack of original thought. If you use cliches, you haven’t thought enough, so it is better to be quiet than to use them.
* Educational jargon is bullshit.
* Read Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”
* If a conversation has too much sugar in it, there’s not a lot of protein in it.
* No matter what you say, some people will take it wrong.
* You can’t please everyone. Get over it.
* Not everyone will believe you are sincere, no matter how hard you try, no matter what the facts are.
* It’s ok to say “I’m sorry” or “I’m wrong” or “I don’t know.”
* Say “Thank you” a lot.
* Learn how to keep your mouth shut.
* Why argue? You don’t win.
* Make eye contact, smile and greet everyone you meet in the halls or on campus.
* If you can’t say or read a sentence in one breath, it’s too long. Stop and breathe.

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