Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Social media punishes attempts at one-way communication precisely because it is social – an ongoing, online dialogue between people.

Put yourself in the kitchen at a party – everyone in there is chatting away and then you jump in shouting your head off about how wonderful you are. End result? If you escape being punched, you’re lucky. But people will be aggrieved at you for being so rude.

You’re generally welcome into the kitchen, but social behaviour dictates that you listen to the people around you, work out what’s being said and then make a contribution that will ensure you are accepted as a valid and welcomed member of the group. You can’t have a party yourself until you know enough people to invite, so there’s always an element of spending time in other people’s kitchens before you can be confident that you know enough people to invite over to your party.

If everyone in that kitchen knows who you are, for instance if it’s your kitchen, then you could well get away with crashing in – but you’ll fast get a reputation for being obnoxious and loud at parties and people may well start avoiding you. Even if you’re known, it’s safer to behave with respect and tact rather than going around shouting slogans at people.

If you insist it’s your kitchen and you have the right to lock everyone in and shout assertive brand-enhancing slogans at them, nobody will ever come to your party again. If you make playing party games conditional to being in the kitchen, people will avoid the kitchen and also your parties.

In fact, one of the most important things about good parties is that you give up your right to your kitchen entirely – strange people will stand around in it and have conversations that have nothing to do with you. And they will enjoy themselves and consequently be delighted when they're invited back.

The value to this is that, managed properly, you can also engage in that conversation and perhaps gently steer it around to a topic that’s more valuable to you – but it helps to have invited the right people to the party, and therefore into the kitchen, in the first place. And to treat them with respect and as peers.

This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named 'A Moment with McNabb' columns in Campaign Middle East magazine.


EyeOnDubai said...

You do know that the collective term for a group of bankers is a 'wunch'?


Harsha said...

i thought they stopped publishing Campaign ME!

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