Stir Up Trouble

Why? Because it starts the conversation. It’s the first part of a three-stage process I’ve devised for lively communication and interaction. Here we go:

1.     Provoke

To stimulate interaction: the most important aspect of good communication. You don’t have to be offensive, just present something that challenges your audience’s current thinking. A statement or question that makes them think. Feathers may be ruffled due to your mind-blowing and incendiary idea, but keep your cool. Keep all egos (including your own) sensible and adult in attitude. You’re just getting started.

2.     Listen

Right, you’ve stated your utterly ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting point of view. Now what? Absorb. What does your audience think? Suck it up! Take it all on board. Right now they might think that what you’ve said is:

  • ‘Nonsense.’ In which case you may have lost some of them irreversibly. This is a possible price to be paid for using this method, but it might be best to lose anyone not even willing to have a discussion. You’re metaphorically ruffling their hair, not attacking them.
  • ‘Pure genius.’ They’re with you all the way and have been waiting for an inspiring revolutionary like yourself to manifest their frustration and lead the charge. Bravo. Onward!
  • ‘Old news – boooring.’ Ah; your point isn’t quite as incisive and earth-shattering as you thought. They may want something new that challenges the status quo, but you ain’t it, sister. You needed to research your audience’s experience and values better. All is not lost, however; you can still gather ideas and move to the next stage:

3.     Consolidate

State all the perspectives (yours and all of theirs) and then create a conclusion, which could be a new angle or approach, only possible from combining what’s been presented and discussed – pretty damn clever and impressive if you can achieve it. Which you can, if you supply enough positivity and creativity.


Throw a spanner in the works, some fuel on the fire, some chilli powder in the cookie dough* by speaking or writing something a little controversial or simply, well… new. It can be a great way to start things off. The key is to keep your ego in check (maintain an adult frame of mind) so that your audience feel you’re trying to help them and are on their side.

* Not a well-known phrase. I made it up.

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