We’re never to old to learn


I’ve been doing PR for 30 years, but it took my son, who has just started high school, to bring me up short and remind me of a few communications truths.

We were discussing his homework over the weekend. Or trying to.

It was connected to an artefact, a souvenir, bought by my wife’s grandfather (my son’s great-grandfather) in Egypt in 1915, while he was stationed there to protect the Suez Canal (just before he sailed to France and the Western Front, as it happens).

The more I talked about Sarajevo, the Great War, Suez, the Battle of the Somme, gas attacks, Lewis machine guns, and so on, the more blank my son became.

We were missing each other.

I realised that I was going into too much detail, too soon.

That he was missing the context that I had, so he couldn’t relate the different facts I was giving him to each other. (He’d barely heard of the First World War. Why should he? It’s ancient history.)

I forgot that he might not be as interested in this stuff as I was, so I forgot to tell him a story that connected to the object he held in his hand.

Once the penny dropped (for me, not him) it all became much easier. He was interested, and grasped what we were saying once I started to communicate more effectively, with relevance, on his terms.

Just thought I’d share this with you. We’re never to old to learn.

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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