Convey it, don’t say it

Ryan Dawidjan
4 min readFeb 21, 2019

Sneak-peaks are more powerful than messages.

Communication is a game of angles, drive-bys, and re-directs. Digital assets (threads, screenshots, and docs) give you creative abilities to convey certain information to certain types of people.

The most effective way to tell someone something is to let them see what you already told someone else.

Want to share advice? Let me see what you just sent an eager undergrad.

Want to lend some candid perspective? Share the email you just sent.

More advice? Just another email.

The medium is the message. There is a reason each of their thought weren’t formatted and posted on Medium as a post.

Blogging the same exact content potentially would carry feelings of:

  • Higher investment (this is “important” because the author took time to compose, edit, and format in a dedicated blogging platform)
  • Higher expectations (this post will be valuable, actionable, or interesting)
  • Higher intention (sharing this content because it will make me a thought leader)

Technically “blogging can be a document-like post with a screenshot in it but by social conventions it can’t. It feels like one is getting on their stump to shout out what they think the world needs to hear.

Re-directing an existing message to a larger audience has a lot of effective social nuances.

By casually giving their Twitter world (friends, colleagues, modern friends, strangers) a casual and quick look into something they have already communicated, they suppress any of those natural and intense perceptions above.

With as much as a small line of text and a quick screenshot, completely different associations exist.

  • This individual has credibility (they are sought after and being asked for their time and thoughts, look at the public reception of their content)
  • This content may or may not be relevant (it wasn’t originally meant for me or the entire world)
  • This individual has been generous (they‘ve trusted us to peak into their world of thought and who they communicate with)
  • This is only a taste (they don’t have time to blog this and you may find the 99% of other offline and private conversations even more interesting)
a poor visualization of what is happening

Using an existing conversation within a direct 1v1 messaging context brings meaningful social nuances as well. The importance on being able to convey rather than just outright say is much higher.

When a close friend texts asking for an update I may feel comfortable sending a candid answer. It will pale in comparison to the conversation we may have at the bar or on the phone but I sense that they genuinely want more than a “solid. hbu?”

This reply back to them will still cause some hesitation on my part as the series of texts spill and requires a thumb scroll to read. Typically long blue walls of text conjure up memories of breakups or trying to fix the printer with mom.

Unless it was a very close friend or someone who had been involved in the job search process, I would be very hesitant to text that much to someone. It would feel almost too self-involved and perhaps a burden for them to receive and respond to.

The natural tendency for self-censorship rises dramatically amongst acquaintances and modern friends due to a lack of personal context and history.

Say a new modern friend does end up messaging me the next day asking how the new gig is going. Rather than inundating them and feeling conscious about that I can simply use a screenshot of my earlier conversation with the close friend.

Technically it’s a faster and easier response. More importantly though, I get to convey all that I wanted to him know without being constrained by messaging and social norms.

My usage of the screenshot carries feelings of:

  • Existing interest (“Ryan has friends”, others noticed, and others asked about it)
  • Existing comfort with the topic (I was candid about it)
  • Implied trust with the modern friend (they receive exactly what a close friend did)
  • Implied appropriate response (modern friend not led to think I just spent three minutes composing a bespoke answer for them and that they need to match it with a great deal of time and energy)

You can this of this asset-sharing mechanically visually with a road metaphor. Our default communication is a back-and-forth exchange of blue bubbles. The usage of an existing doc, screenshot, or photo adds a quick on-ramp to that two-way information highway. It’s a socially fast and light way to involve a piece of media that is just a tap or app swipe away.

Let me just send find that screenshot. Here’s what I previously sent. Just shared this with a friend. Wrote this to a buddy some time ago. Here’s how I’ve already been thinking about. This is what I relayed with in a similar situation. Funny you should ask, this may help.

another super high quality diagram

Here’s the draft I shared with a few friends earlier, you may be interested in it.

Convey > say.



Ryan Dawidjan

building NYC products and teams. // 🗣 w/ modern friends. big heuristic guy.