You know the typical bar or pub we’re used to in the UK? Remember how noisy they can get? Me too.

I was chatting to my girlfriend Kate about her friend’s birthday, for which they’d been to a bar to celebrate. It was great at first, everyone enjoying themselves – atmospheric music in the background and enjoyable company. As the night went on though, the bar started filling up.

Sounds great on the face of it, but naturally the volume rose. After all, everyone wants to be heard by their pals. At some point the bar staff notice they can’t hear the music over the voices, so that’ll be turned up a notch. It looks something like this:

Atmospheric music > conversation > louder music > loud conversation > loudest music > shouting over others and the loudest music

The problem with the last couple of stages is that everyone winds up with a sore throat and ringing in their ears. Occasionally they can’t hear what the other person is saying over the noise. Today lots of businesses are stuck in this loop, each trying their hardest to shout over everyone else and be heard.

Possibly the best way we can avoid the loop is never wandering into it in the first place. By making or doing something different from the crowd, you can remain a conversationalist without having to pressure anyone into anything. They’ll thank you for it in the long run.

Today’s Takeaway: Be wary of entering a crowded space (a loud bar), and think about what you’re offering and to whom. How many competitors (all shouting) do you have?


The thinking behind this example stems from Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, so I tip my invisible hat to Seth for the cleverness and to Kate for inspiring this post with a short story.