On ‘heart’ day, remember that you have one!

By Lauren Edwards

Happy Valentines Day!

It’s a good day for writers to remember that it’s our humanity itself that keeps us from being replaced by machines.

Without empathy, curiosity and a desire to make a difference, any connection we happen to make will be a fluke — and ultimately empty.

Sure, there are more tools than ever to automate our jobs, but …

  • the more real you are
  • the more you feel rather than just think
  • the more you try to walk in another’s shoes
  • the more open you are to a third possibility beyond what either party wants

… well, that’s where magic comes in. And I do believe in magic.

Even as I work with engineers and some of the smartest technology companies on the planet, offering them rational ways to reframe and remove barriers to connecting with the audiences they care about most, I believe in the irrational.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a student of the teachings of Marshall Rosenberg, whose work lives on internationally in a group called NVC.  It’s not religious. It’s an awareness practice.

Below are two of NVC’s suggestions for more effective communications in any setting.

Listen for the *need* underneath what the other person is saying. In my science-and-technology work, this translates to “the zero step” in a multi-step writing process. Before you write, immerse yourself in certain aspects of your diverse audience’s life and work flow. Marketing VPs like to ask about “relevance” and “traction.” This is how you achieve those. Listen first, talk later.

Our feelings are directional arrows that point to what we truly value. Most of us skip over feelings to get quickly to a resolution. We pride ourselves on staying rational when others are collapsing in their own mush. No need to collapse, but do slow down enough to notice what you feel and what needs/values they point toward. Then turn your attention to the need/value. This step begins to reveal better “third options” or at least more choices for more successful resolutions.

When NVC is taught to children, it’s called “Giraffe Talk.” The giraffe was chosen as a symbol because it’s the land mammal with the largest heart.

You don’t need a romantic partner or chocolates. You were born with the most important gift you can give anyone at any time, including to yourself.

Your heart.


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Lauren Edwards is a former reporter for the Associated Press. She has been creating, customizing and delivering workshops for science and technology teams since 2000.

WriteCulture is now booking workshops for 2019. Click here to start an exploratory conversation.