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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Important announcement

I'm getting increasingly annoyed when people tell me something is important. In the end and if I'm not mistaken - importance is determined subjectively, not objectively, isn't it? I'm glad to agree with you about the importance of your concern, but then please share your reasoning. Tell me why something is important, and why I should care. And while you're at it: Please be able to back your claims up. If you do so, I'll listen attentively, I'll try to follow your reasoning, and if I do, I might agree and take action. Not just because you tell me something is important.

Unfortunately, political appeals and messages seem to be doing just that. The result of this week's conference?

Considering the exceptional importance ...
  • Considering also the importance ...
  • Noting that xxx have an historic opportunity ...
The message continues claiming that "there is an urgent need" to do something. Why? By whom?

What if we banned the words "important", "historic", "unique" and "urgent" from our vocabulary? We might actually be more successful in communicating the importance of our aims.

And while we're at it - we might want to rethink the effectiveness of these messages: Just because a group of people agrees that someone (else) should do something specific, it ain't gonna happen. Sometimes good old campaign strategy goes a long way: Understanding the issue, analysing the power balance, identifying allies and obstacles, defining a critical path of change, and finally making the right demand to the right person at the right moment.

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