This story was told to me when I was a teenager. Much later it was interpreted into a popular video on the web. This story illustrates in a timeless way how important the choice of words and language is when we want to truly connect with and move other people
An old blind man was sitting on a busy street corner in the rush-hour begging for money. On a cardboard sign, next to an empty tin cup, he had written: ‘Blind – Please help’.
No-one was giving him any money.
A young advertising writer walked past and saw the blind man with his sign and an empty cup, and also saw the many people passing by completely unmoved, let alone stopping to give money.
The advertising writer took a thick marker-pen from her pocket, turned the cardboard sheet back-to-front, and re-wrote the sign, then went on her way.
Immediately, people began putting money into the tin cup.
After a while, when the cup was overflowing, the blind man asked a stranger to tell him what the sign now said.
“It says,” said the stranger, ” ‘It’s a beautiful day. You can see it. I cannot.’
Why do I bring this story up?
Facts are facts. But how we word the story can have a significant impact on its interpretation is received. I’m going to keep this is the realm of Boston real estate. A Beacon Hill apartment owner called and wanted to know why hasn’t his Beacon Hill apartments rented yet. My initial reaction was you just gave me the listings last Friday, followed by its too dam expensive.
Instead, I changed the narrative. I said, let us view who you’re competing with and how the market looks from the tenant’s point of view. There are approx. 200 Beacon Hill apartments for rent of which 55 have had a price reduction in the last few weeks. We broke the data in small incremental elements until the owner created his new vision of he was the Beacon Hill apartment rental market.
Boston real estate
The story about the blind man, and the Beacon Hill landlord both illustrates in a timeless way how important the choice of words and language are when we want to truly connect with and move people.