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What, Me Listen, Errr, Do I Have To?

I liked Sonia Simone’s refreshingly put The Surprising Old-School Secret to Blogging Success on Copyblogger yesterday. She’s talking about blogging, specifically, but the lesson applies all over the new world. I liked it when she starts with this…

About 80% of your blog’s success comes from “ass in chair” time. That’s the time you spend writing posts, editing posts, finding the perfect image, connecting with fellow bloggers, answering comments, and shaping up your SEO…

… because that’s my style. I don’t mind working long hours, particularly doing stuff I like, such as —  on the good days —  writing stuff on this blog. Give me a keyboard and an empty room and I’m happy to be the life of the hypothetical not-really-there party.

But real people, in real conversation? I don’t like it when Sonia reveals her hidden message:

Believe it or not, you can actually replicate this phenomenon by physically locating yourself in close proximity to another person, with each of you taking turns speaking. This is called a conversation.

Ugh. Where’s my keyboard? And, to make it worse, she rubs salt on that wound with this:

Spend enough time in these “real world” conversations, and you actually trigger the growth of new neural connections. You come up with new ideas. You challenge your existing ideas and take them in new directions. You learn.

This phenomenon is improved by another old-school technique, called listening. It’s like lurking, except the other person can see you standing there, so at some point you should probably say something.

I have to admit, I liked it better when success was 90% just showing up. I’m good at showing up. But listening? You’re asking a lot.

One of the funniest – and, like it or not – truest pieces I’ve read lately was Call Me! But Not on Skype or Any Other Videophone in Time Magazine a few weeks ago (and, happily, also posted online, which is why I linked to it here). Joel Stein nails it on what’s wrong with Skype: you have to pay attention to the other person. He says:

Skype breaks the century-old social contract of the phone: we pay close attention while we’re talking and zone out while you are.

As soon as you begin to talk, I feel trapped and desperately scan the room for tasks I can do to justify the enormous waste of time that is your talking.

How embarrassingly true that is. And now we have experts on Copyblogger, one of the best blogs about blogging, telling us the secret to blogging success might be actual real conversations with live people instead of keyboards. And listening?

Brave new world? Maybe not. Maybe just that same old world, but with more people than ever.


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