A few weeks ago, I attended a picnic with my Sunday School class.
After burgers, hotdogs and Faygo, we gathered around a campfire to start the millenia-old ritual of getting to know one another.
Campfires have a strange power. Introverts can stare into the crackling embers and get lost in their thoughts. Everyone respects their silence knowing that introspection is natural when contemplating the flames. Extroverts slide into their natural habit of storytelling. Soon everyone is swapping stories, adding their own experiences, relating and comparing.
Within minutes the campfire starts to work its magic. Sometimes everyone is listening to one story. Other times people break off into intimate ad-hoc huddles.
Sometimes there is someone who doesn’t “get it”.
Instead of listening they dump whatever is on their mind into the circle. They wait impatiently for their chance to steer the conversation. These folks disrupt the flow of conversation and mangle the magic of the campfire.
These people usually mean well. They often have fascinating stories to tell. But, their sin is insisting on telling and not sharing.
Telling is a monologue. Sharing is describing emotion, intent, and observation. Telling works best when it’s one-sided.
“I went to Miami University.” “I have three kids.” “I worked for Senator Glenn.”
Open and shut. Unless you went to Miami, or worked on Capitol Hill we have little in common.
Sharing is different.
“College was a blur. I can’t remember what I learned academically, but I remember struggling with my self-identity”
“I think I’m an average parent. 50% of the time I don’t have a clue. The other 50% I’m faking it”
“I was supposed to go to law school. I spent a summer seeing why I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I quickly learned that politics has little to do with the law”
Can you relate? Feel the difference?
We often make the same mistake on our blogs. And it’s the one reason why many blogs fail to get comments. People can compare, relate, and find connections with emotion and intent. Your readers can relate to happiness, regret, surprise, and wonder. They can’t relate to labels, abstract concepts, and clever soundbites.
Think back to the campfire; who was the most intriguing person in the group?
For me its the person who gives me a glimpse at their heart. It’s the parent who describes how tough it is to relate to their son. It’s the professional describing how he’s burned out at his job. It’s the divorced mom relating memorable or forgettable dating tales. These windows into people’s heart immediately prompt a comment.
The same goes for your blog.
Look at your posts. Are you telling or sharing?
Have you climbed up on a soapbox or are you describing your personal feelings and observations? Are you inviting readers to pull up a chair and relate with you? If not, then you will struggle to get comments. Not because you are a lousy writer; the problem is that you are a “closed book”. People can’t comment because they don’t know what to comment about.