I have some fun trivia for you.
You’ve probably heard this famous quote, and maybe you’ve even said it:
“The Medium is the Message.”
First piece of trivia: The correct quote is actually, “The MEDIUM is the MASSAGE.”
That’s what 🇨🇦 Canadian philosopher and English & media studies professor Marshall McLuhan called his 1967 book: “The Medium is the MASSAGE: An Inventory of Effects.”
McLuhan said “MASSAGE” provocatively to highlight how the media through which we communicate is decoded through what he called ”the human sensorium.” You can think of this simply as your senses. You see things, you read things, you hear things, and so on.
A bit of trivia about Marshall McLuhan – He was an academic rock star, and if you’ve ever seen Woody Allen’s movie “Annie Hall,” then you’ve seen Marshall McLuhan. He does a cameo in that movie where he plays a pompous academic, who says “You know nothing of my work.” Apparently, this was a line McLuhan often used when his work was criticized.
Wow. What a character!
If you’re Canadian you may remember that Marshall McLuhan was immortalized in his own Heritage Minute!
On top of that, there’s the legacy of his book title.
McLuhan’s play on words highlights how our senses decode the media through which we communicate. In other words, our senses interpret the same CONTENT differently depending on HOW we’ve received it.
This is precisely why the medium matters.
This is also the topic that I address in this week’s Talk About Talk podcast, as suggested by listener “Mike.” (Thank you, Mike! This is a great topic.)
We all have our own communication media preferences, but your default medium might not always be the best way to communicate your message.
My media default (email) is probably not the same as yours.
And your media default may not be the same as your boss or your clients!
If it’s someone you know well and communicate with often, you probably already know their default.
But if you’re not sure, consider the following:
1️⃣ Individual vs. Group – If it’s one person, a text or phone call may be ideal. If it’s a group, it might be best to CC everyone on an email or set up a meeting (imagine!).
2️⃣ Age/Generation – Communication media preferences often vary across generations. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may prefer the phone or email for work. Gen Y (aka Millennials) usually default to texting or email. And Gen Z is all about visual communication across multiple platforms. (According to my 15-year-old son, nobody emails. Ever.)
3️⃣ Proximity – Are they in the office next door? Pop by in person. Are they in another building/city/country? Send an email or set up a virtual meeting.
4️⃣ Stage of the Relationship – When you’re first establishing a relationship, professional or personal, communicating face-to-face is ideal. Over time, maintaining longer-standing relationships can be done through texting, email, or phone calls.
Considering the other person is a great place to start when choosing your ideal communication medium. In the latest Talk About Talk episode, you’ll learn how to be STRATEGIC about your communication media choices by considering:
1️⃣ WHO you’re communicating with
2️⃣ WHAT you’re saying
3️⃣ WHY you’re saying it
If you know anyone who would be interested in learning more about choosing the right communication medium, please forward this email to them. THANK YOU! And if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please email me anytime.
Executive Communication Coach
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