Oscar Wilde lied.
Imitation really isn’t the sincerest form of flattery.*
I discovered this recently when someone pirated my book, Email Attraction, and published it word for word under their name on Amazon.
I wasn’t flattered at all (although it was fun for a while answering ‘Well, actually I’ve been fighting pirates’, when asked how my day was going).
But imitation in communication can be helpful.
In my masterclasses, participants often tell me about their colleague, boss or client who they think is a fantastic communicator:
‘She can sum up really complex concepts in just a few words!’
‘He uses these brilliant stories to get everyone hooked.’
‘His writing is so pithy – no word is wasted.’
‘She just has this way about her that commands attention…’
And my advice is this: study them like a book.
Every time you sit through their presentation, read their report or devour their email, make some notes.
What exactly is it that you like about their way of communicating?
Is it the informal tone and their choice of words?
Is it how they grab your attention at the start?
Do they use anecdotes, metaphors or examples to clarify their point?
What else do you notice?
And then see if you can try out a few of their techniques. Because you don’t always need a book to learn new tricks (especially not a pirated one).
Sometimes the lesson is right there in your inbox.
*Poor Oscar has been widely misunderstood. His full quote was “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Makes me feel much better.