Find an Alter Ego

I wrote about this idea before. I still think it’s a clever way to trick yourself into getting things done. I didn’t go as far as creating a character for my alter ego. But, it does help to distract yourself from believing you can’t do it.

If you break it down, what does the task really require, at it’s most basic. You can do it if you think of it as just talking (for instance) and don’t get caught up in expecting things to be harder than they are.

“Fake it until you make it”.

From CopyBlogger:

This month’s creativity prompt is to invent an alter ego who’s great at the thing you’re not good at.

You’re going to imagine this person as a character in a novel or a film. Know what they look like, how they talk, what they wear, where they live.

Then, when you’re doing the challenging activity, you’re going to write as that character.

You don’t have to be a fiction writer to pull this off. It’s much easier to do in writing than it is to try face to face or on the phone, although those are also options if you feel ready for Expert Mode.

Are you too timid when you discuss your services with a client? Write a pitch using the voice of an ultra confident alter ego.

Are you too blunt when you email colleagues? Write an email using the voice of a nurturing, benevolent earth mama.

You don’t have to share what you write — but you may well find that you want to. When it’s time to be tough, or patient, or steely, or suave, it’s handy to have a well-developed alter ego who can handle those states effortlessly.

Cyber Communication History Book

Starting from the email and its stylistic facets, chat, in which we focus also on the art of composing spartan shapes and colors in the standard IRC, the author probes the spontaneous, irreverent and relentless personal communication that found between restrictions techniques and tricks of its own random mode. In the following chapters we analyze the digital greetings (greetings, condolences), then moved to a short and intense history of ASCII Art and its roots in RTTY Art, the art of the teletype, with the additional restriction of ASCII to 5 bits (ie only upper case).
The author of this book, Brenda Danet, is now deceased. There are no chances to find her online and ask her about her book. I would have liked to know if she ever tried ASCII or other text art herself.
In 20 years I think there will be a small flood of books about Internet and communications, the history. About there in time will be the 50 year mark for the Internet becoming a part of popular media. The Internet is older than that, but few people knew much about it until ISP’s started cropping up and making it fairly easy for anyone with a computer to connect online. 
The Internet (beyond the computer itself) has changed communication forever. But, as I see typewriters become obsolete, I wonder what will be next. I would not be surprised if the computer itself eventually went into the obsolete pile. But, I do wonder about screen size. From big screen TVs to the tiniest mobile devices… screen sizes don’t get taken into account very often in communication. I don’t count making websites mobile-friendly because that’s a necessity due to the miniscule size. Do people really prefer a tiny screen? I can’t imagine so – I don’t! 
It doesn’t seem mobile is going anywhere though. How will reading everything from tiny screens change communications, more than it has so far? Will people start wearing magnifying glasses? If so, will that just give manufacturers a reason to make things even smaller? Over generations, if this keeps up, will our eyeballs or eye sight adapt to reading this way? 
Note: The quoted text above comes from a review of Brenda Danet’s book, on Neural.

For the Letter Writers

I’ve written about letter writing before: Letter Writing and Letter Writing Fading to Black.

But, it’s time for another look, to see what’s new, what I missed and just for the sake of the letter writers themselves (they who need to be appreciated).

“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.”  –  Lord Byron


Letter Writers Alliance –  (Blog)  (Twitter)  (Flickr)

Flickr: The Art of Letter Writing

 Letters & Journals

The Missive Haven

A Year of Letters

 Letter Lover

The Letter Writing Revolution

365 Letters Blog

The Letter Jar

Going Postal – You can’t get far (literally) with letter writing without the postal service/ snail mail. Yet, it’s becoming less necessary for communications. During the latest postal strike here in Ontario many people wondered how clever the postal workers union was to strike now. People are already using the service less due to the Internet. How long will it take for the post office and snail mail to become a hobby for letter writers and otherwise not very practical for business and communications in general.

Save Snail Mail –  (Twitter)

Viva Snail Mail

Twitter: Postage Service – “Perpetuating the beauty of postage stamps through practical & artistic applications!”

Smithsonian National Postal Museum

The British Postal Museum

Save the Paper – The debate about the possible demise of paper communications (books, newspapers, letters and any others of the like) is ongoing.

(From Domtar) Paper Because

Domtar is committed to the responsible use of paper. We’re also committed to communicating paper’s place and value to the businesses and people that use our products every day. Paper is a sustainable, renewable, recyclable, plant-based product that connects us in so many ways to the important things in life. Great ideas are started on paper. The world is educated on paper. Businesses are founded on paper. Love is professed on paper. Important news is spread on paper.

How to Ask for What you Want

This is quoted from the John Chow blog:

It’s All About Posture and Control

In the PR business, perception is everything and service will always go to the site or blog that the PR rep perceived as better for the show. If you come across as unsure of yourself or on the verge of begging, you can bet your bottom dollar you won’t be getting an invite. The last thing a PR rep wants to deal with is an inexperienced newbie at her show.

It’s all about posture and control. If you wanted to be treated like a somebody, then you have act like a somebody. While it might seem the best way to go about asking for something is to be really nice about it, in real life, being nice usually puts you in last place. This is not to say that you should be a mean bitch. That would be stupid. What it does mean is you should project an image of good posture and control.

When I want something, I assume the position that I am going to get it. Instead of asking, can you, would you or could you, I like to say I require, send it to, put the following names on the party list. People like to see confidences. It’s a natural magnate. An email that display it will always be put in front of an email that is timid.

I do everything wrong when I ask for something in a professional situation. I start by feeling I am asking for a favour. In fact, anything which gives back promotion is not someone doing you a favour, it’s an exchange of favours. Ignore the scale or how you feel about asking. I have to get better at this myself. I should find something I want and start practicing, especially in a situation where I would not be crushed if I am turned down. When you have less invested in it you can give yourself more room to ask in a better way, you’re already starting with a better mind set than feeling you need to ask nice/ beg for it because you really NEED it or MUST have it.

More posts about asking for what you want:

Get-It-Done-Guy: How to Ask for What you Want

Ask Politely and Be Willing to Hear “No”

When asking for help, do so politely, confidently, and humbly, and let them know they can refuse your request—that way they won’t feel pressured. Don’t expect them to say “yes,” but don’t expect them not to. “Please sir, may I have some more gruel?” asked Oliver Twist. If a scrawny orphan boy can ask, so can you. If they say “no,” thank them and go ask someone else.

In fact, expect people to say “no.” That way, if they say “no,” they’re just doing what you expect. It makes you feel powerful, like you’re already Emperor of the World. If they say “yes,” then you can be pleasantly surprised. Of course, if they say “yes,” they were violating your expectations, and as Emperor, you may have to execute them as an example. But such are the sacrifices that come with great power.

Asking for Help Makes the Relationship Stronger

We’re trained to think that asking for help is “using up a silver bullet.” Is it? Unless you constantly ask and abuse someone’s generosity, you’re giving someone the gift of doing you a favor. Think of the times you’ve helped someone else. It feels pretty good. The only time it’s unpleasant to ask for something is when someone says “yes” when they mean “no.” That’s why it’s important to let people know they can say “no” in the first place. You don’t want them to feel pressured.

Your relationship will get stronger when the people you ask for help become interested in helping you and you in turn show appreciation and gratitude for their help. Which brings us to the last step, which is sending a hand-written thank you card.

When you want something, ask. Be polite, and be willing to hear “no” for an answer. Don’t hold it against them if they say “no”, and write a hand-written thank you when they say “yes.”

Respect Rx: Do you Ask for What you Want?

Ask yourself for all those juicy little things you ever wanted. Ask for full-blown permission to be yourself. Ask for all those giganctico dreams you want to live out. Ask yourself to love your body and whole entire you. ASK. And say YES.

Then please do branch out from there to asking for what you want (by way of support or changing your life and world for the better) from your loves, family, employer, Congresswoman, and fellow (wo)man…And if you ask, and the answer is No, go around the corner and ask someone else.

Even better, just say YES to yourself. The results/goodies/rewards/love/acknowledgement/respect you want will show up if your request is from the heart and harmless to others. In other words, you can sprinkle your own magic fairy dust on yourself. Just say Yes and ride off into the sunset already.

Asking for what I want has never failed me. But I have, at times, failed to ask.

WITI: How to Ask for What you Want

How to Become a Better Asker

Here are five tools and techniques to increase your asking acumen:

1. Write down what you want

Here is one technique that can help in situations where you are not clear about what you want. While several other techniques also exist for gaining clarity, many require enlisting the perspective of another objective individual who can guide you through the discovery process, whereas this is a technique you can try all on your own. I have personally witnessed its power many times as I observed the following unusual phenomenon in my coaching practice: When I first have a complimentary introductory phone call with a perspective client and I ask them what they want to accomplish through coaching they verbally describe one set of objectives. If they subsequently sign up as a coaching client I email them a “Welcome Package” that asks them to write down the three short-term and three long-term objectives they want to achieve in our coaching – and what I frequently get back is a significantly different list! This happens not 10% or 20% of the time; it happens over 80% of the time. There is something profound that happens when people take the time and energy to think things through enough to commit them to writing – and the level of clarity is greatly enhanced. So next time you find yourself feeling vague about what you want to ask for, try writing it down first. Even if you subsequently decide to “say it in words” the very process of addressing it first in writing will likely lead to greater specificity and ease in your communications.

2. Get an outside perspective

I you are being held back by your own limited perspective of what you see as possible or of how others will react to you, then seek out someone who can help you see things from another viewpoint, brainstorm options, and role play possible interactions.

3. Stop hoping for “mind readers”

If you believe “You shouldn’t have to ask,” or if your requests are “indirect” and overly subtle, then realize that what you are doing is putting your future in the hands of “mind readers.” You are acting as if those around you can figure out what you want and then supply an appropriate response. By taking such an approach you relinquish your ability to control your own destiny and significantly lessen your chances of getting what you really want.

4. Re-think the concept of “respect”

Believing that asking for what you want is “selfish” is a reasoning distortion often born of a lack of respect for yourself and others. It seems fairly obvious that a lack of self respect can make you feel unworthy or less important than others and cause you to subordinate your own needs and “not ask.” What is less obvious is that not being comfortable asking for what you want can also arise from a lack of respect for others. More specifically, not asking can occur when you don’t respect others enough to share your honest thoughts and desires with them, or you don’t respect their ability to say “No” to you when they want to, or stick up for themselves in the situation. Rather than setting yourself up as the ultimate authority over who’s needs are the most important, or who can handle what in an interchange, try adopting the perspective that each person has the right and responsibly to honesty and straightforwardly express their needs and desires and negotiate an equitable solution.

5. Learn the skills for asking in a way that others can hear non-defensively

If you find yourself fearing how others will respond to what you ask for, or accumulating a history of receiving bad reactions to your requests, then most likely you are missing some key phrasing skills that will allow you to ask questions in a way that doesn’t push other people’s buttons. The good news is that these skills are learnable. For example, a simple but effective way to ask someone to do what you want in a neutral non-offensive way even in a potentially controversial area (e.g., to stop smoking or drinking in your presence or to stop making hurtful comments about your weight) is to simply say, “I ask that you…” – followed by what you want to ask for. Find an “effective communication” class, book or coach to help you grow your communication toolkit and your ability to ask for what you want will expand enormously.

The Bottom Line

Being able to ask for what you want, and to ask in an effective way that increases the chances you will get it, is a crucial life skill. It requires that you know what you want, are comfortable articulating what you want, and have the communication skills necessary to do so. If you don’t take control to say what you want you will be left at the mercy of others who will likely be more than happy to tell you what you need and what is best for you.

Women’s Health: Get What you Want: How to Make the Big Ask

Here are a few things I’ve learned about asking: The minute you’re afraid to ask for something is when you should do it. It’s nice to offer something in return, even if it’s just a compliment or a kind gesture. It also helps to take a few deep breaths and imagine the worst possible outcome. Usually, it’s simply getting a no, which is not exactly life threatening. Whether the result is life changing or disappointing, asking is always a significant accomplishment. Because if you ask me, it’s the questions in life—not the answers—that really count.

Psychology Today: Wander Woman: Strong, Smart Women: Ask for What you Want at Work

The Campaign for Plain English

Have you heard about Plain English Campaign or the Plain Language Network? The idea is to make communication simple and easy to understand. Going back to basics essentially. It has been used mainly as a guide for legal and government communications but should be a guide to everyone. What is the point of writing if you are not communicating? (Unless you plan to keep it all to yourself in which case you could come up with your own personal, weird form of shorthand and save a lot of paper).

Wikipedia has the following description: Plain English (sometimes referred to more broadly as plain language) is a generic term for communication styles that emphasize clarity, brevity and the avoidance of technical language.

Plain English is English written to be understood. It is written in a manner appropriate to the range of reading skill and knowledge of its audience. It is writing where there is no confusion about meaning, is free of cliché and unnecessary jargon and is presented in a way that builds understanding. Good Plain English writing has the characteristic that it communicates to an audience that is unfamiliar with the in-house language and knowledge of the writer.

Plain English Foundation


Proper words in proper places make the true definition of style. – Swift.

What appears to be a sloppy or meaningless use of words may well be a completely correct use of words to express sloppy or meaningless ideas. – Anonymous Diplomat. Quoted in “The Complete Plain Words”  by Sir Ernest Gowers.

Surviving the Afterness

The world suddenly ends, civilization is broken up and people are just surviving in little pockets or alone. Communications are down, no Internet. No electrical power but for the odd generator still managing to function. Think about it… how would you carry on? How would you find food, shelter and the other basics for living? Would you stay alone or find a group to pool resources with? What skills do you have that might be just a hobby now but suddenly become valuable in the new way of life?