Having the Mouth of a Sailor Makes Me a Better Communicator

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How it Started:

Since I can remember swearing/cursing/cussing – whatever you want to call it, has been a huge part of my life. In the small town of Madoc, where I grew up, not many people gave a shit, or had a filter. The odd place – like school of course would be the exception to this unwritten rule. Otherwise, it was the norm.

Much of my childhood was spent at my neighbor’s house, he had a farm – horses mostly. My neighbor, Pete was a walking dictionary of curse words. He had his favourites – c*nt being one of them. I was exposed to this colourful language so early on that it almost lost its sense of excitement and rebel-like quality in my teen years. I do feel, as though I gained an appreciation for the art (yes I do consider it an art form of sorts). Because people are so often offended, or simply not used to hearing these words every day it gives me an “edge”. I can now confidently and successfully use the ‘f*ck’ as a verb, noun or adjective. It can even be placed in the middle of a word to emphasize my feelings, example? Un-f*ckingbelievable.

To me, swearing adds zest, and spunk to ordinary thoughts. It’s like using the word “stellar” in a conversation today. It elevates, and heightens any sentence. Saying words that are tabooed from society – not completely of course, but generally – just feels.. good. It may cause a few heads to turn, but hey, if my language catches your attention, I think I’m doing something right.

How it affects me today:

The way we communicate affects us each day. When making friends, meeting new people, or dating, I don’t hold back. I speak freely, I’m going to curse. I do it regularly, so, if you don’t like it, if it offends you, then I think it’s better to know at the beginning. That’s the easy part. The hard part is that, I’m committing my life (my career that is) to being a communication specialist. It’s been a learning experience to know how to speak to an audience.

Having first hand experience about how to differentiate between audiences; changing the delivery of my brand’s message – my brand being me – based on who I am speaking with has given me a huge advantage to understanding how brands work in the media industry.

On that note, I think it’s so important to think about how I, (and those who curse like a sailor) conduct ourselves in a work environment. I’ve had jobs ranging from Tim Hortons, and a kid-friendly skatepark to numerous restaurants, a public relations firm internship, a coffee shop at my University and an LCBO customer service rep. All of these jobs allowed me to expand my communication skills. I have a strong personality, and I express that personality through language. Each job I’ve obtained, has allowed me to understand people from a variety of audiences; to engage with them, and be able to read them better. In one conversation, a short conversation even, I’ll be able to tell something about a person. Usually my aim is to define how much of a filter I need to use in order to continue this conversation; at least that’s how it started.

Now, my job is to know people, read their vibes, and gain a sense of what they embody, which allows me to better serve them and, in turn, serve their brand.

That’s all certainly true and it’s been a blessing as a learning experience from a communicator’s perspective. That does not, by any stretch mean, that I haven’t had a few bad encounters with my cursing. For example, I’ve worked at the LCBO now for about five months. I’m comfortable, I like my co-workers, I’ve gotten to know them and how to interact with each of them, but when we recently switched over to a new manager, I didn’t have time to wade in. The first time she heard me swear, it wasn’t a big deal, I was in the back office, but the second time when I was on the floor. I think she nearly had a heart attack trying to comprehend how I could possibly have just said the “f word” within the earshot of customers. I’m fairly good at observing my surroundings, but that’s not her concern. My swearing has been brought up a few times at the LCBO, never have I offended a customer, I understand boundaries, but my new manager will have to experience this.

It truly is all about how people are going to react. Knowing who they are, and whether or not these expressive words will offend, entertain, or disengage them. It’s all part of being a great a communicator. I have to be a chameleon every single day to embody a brand, a company, and to deliver a message the right way. It’s a new perspective to look at the world, but WHEN I work in an agency, I’ll have to represent multiple brands and convey their message to different audiences. It won’t matter who I am, or how I talk in my personal life, the only thing that will matter, is how the brand speaks and what the brand is saying.

My internship taught me the importance of this, through social media and using multiple platforms for different brands. I’ve also had to learn Happy Birthday Toronto’s brand image. And, for school, I’ve had to embody the Emerge brand, in order to: communicate with venues, potential speakers and pitch ideas across multiple platforms.

It even plays a role in my social media now too, including this blog. To me, blogging is more of a semi-professional conversation, not a journal article or a research paper or an essay, etc. I think it’s flexible, and I try to write the way I talk, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to incorporate the glorified and forbidden f word into my posts each day. The same rule applies to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (my usual outlets). I don’t use my everyday colourful language when I post to those outlets. On occasion, it might be appropriate, but, because all of my outlets are public, it’s better to play it safe and abide by the social norms. I’m not saying I do it all the time, but in an attempt to remain professional, it seems common courtesy.

As I said before, you have to read your audience and know them before casually throwing around words; since it’s difficult to know who exactly is viewing social media, I just find another way to express myself.

I know there is nothing wrong with the way I conduct myself. People have the right to freedom of expression, right? Of course! So, I guess what I want you to gain from this entry is:

  1. Don’t judge people too harshly because they don’t conform to your norms.
  2. Get to know your audience!!!!!!!! (!!!)

Posted with love,

Ady

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