A Word On Differences

Photo Credit: Patrick Dinneen


I’m pretty sure it was somewhere around the fifth article I saw on LinkedIn regarding “How to write a better email” when I hit the tipping point and felt the need to get this idea out there: differences are important and necessary.

One more time for the people in the back: differences are important and necessary.

There’s a trend I’m seeing in a lot of articles being published and all of it sounds the exact same because it lacks nuance. Everyone should be nice, never apologize, never include emoticons, summarize in three or fewer sentences…

…and it’s just exhausting.

I think back over the last few years of working with my boss. He and I are very different in the way we see situations and people. Six years ago, he believed that I erred on the side of kindness far too often. I believed that he could stand to be less of a jerk. Over time, that changed. However, we never made any effort to merge our personalities, or become each other. We simply chose to do the things we did together and enjoy the unique perspectives each of us brought to a situation.

He taught me that sometimes you have to do the hard things.

I taught him that some risks are worth taking.

I could probably do a list of those lessons, but that misses the point of the article. We don’t need to be each other. We need to respect and listen to each other and maybe modify where necessary.

What it comes down to is this: I need those people who are different from me to be exactly the people that they are. That’s how you grow, that’s how you learn. Not by force, but empathy; days, weeks, months of watching people being different from you and trying to walk a few miles in those shoes.

Yes, it is much easier to get people doing the same thing. Yes, it is certainly easier to write in that direction for a lot of reasons, but I hope that, in ten years from now, every {{insert department}} person doesn’t take these “how-to write” articles so seriously that they copy and paste them, template them, and send them on.

I hope that for each situation, you get to know and understand your people and based on that understanding, you bend or break “the rules” as needed.

At the end of the day, no matter how brilliant the template is, these messages we send and other content we create needs substance and soul and that’s not something to be dialed in, templated, or copied.


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