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How Sensitivity Led to Failure and Success

People ask me why I love talking about metacommunication so much.

It's partly from living with ADHD and specifically RSD, where my sensitivity caused me to be acutely aware of other people's true intentions when they communicate.

At 19, my first “adult” job was in sales.

I was abysmal.

So to get better, and in addition to sales training, I immersed myself in the world of psychology, human behaviour, and communications.

Truth be told, the goal was to learn how to avoid being rejected more than it was to learn how to sell.

One of my first books on the topic was a book called Kinesics: The Power of Silent Command by Merlyn Cundiff (1972). It's a bit outdated today but it started me on this path.

When my career turned to marketing, I realized the way people understand and unconsciously interpret our messaging is more potent than we care to admit.

Our content, branding, colours, packaging, website design, customer service, user experience, you name it. Everything.

Every touchpoint communicates something.

And every touchpoint can lead to interpretation, good or bad.

I think that's why I love doing critiques so much.

When I review a piece of copy or website, for example, I can see not only what people see but also what goes on in their heads when they do.

You can say my ADHD is a superpower in disguise.

But how does me saying this benefit you?

Sometimes, we make assumptions about our market that, more often than not, are flawed or wrong. Even damaging.

As Dan Kennedy once noted: “We make the mistake to think we are our market; we are not.” Or as the adage goes, “We try to read the label from inside the jar.”

One of the most revealing exercises we can do as professionals is to take a few steps back, separate ourselves from our practices (and our marketing), and look at everything as if for the first time.

You need to “get into the heads” of your audience.

Being objective is deeply challenging, however.

This is particularly true if you've been a professional for so long with many years and dollars invested in your expertise.

So if you think you know your market, you might want to reconsider.

The best alternative is to receive and value impartial advice from an outside expert. Someone who's detached from your business and knows marketing.

It may be incredibly revealing.

As it was for many of my clients, it may also be the single most profitable decision you can ever make.

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