Monday June 9, 2014
Over the last week there have been numerous stories of people making unfortunate gaffes in the public eye; Gwyneth Paltrow enraging the Armed Forces by comparing being a celebrity to being a soldier in battle; Charlize Theron claiming media intrusion into her private life is similar to rape and Joey Barton describing the UKIP party as the best of "four really ugly girls" during an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time. In all of these cases the celebrity involved has managed to upset and alienate vast amounts of people by saying just one sentence, which may not have been taken in context, or exactly what they meant. It’s then clear to see how important communicating a message is, especially with increasing access to social media and stories becoming viral at the click of a button.
There are some valuable lessons that can be drawn from this and applied in a business context, particularly as communication was voted as the top area for improvement in our Talent Toolbox Review 2013. Jane Sunley in her new book, ‘It’s Never Ok to Kiss the Interviewer’ says ‘there are no rules to say you will receive excellent communication at work so it is up to you to take responsibility if you need to’.
Bearing that in mind, here are our five tips for making sure communication is as effective as possible:
1. Think about who your audience is and how best you can relate to them. Dale Carnegie author of bestselling ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ highlights the importance of talking in the other person’s interests. People are always much more receptive of what you can do for them then you telling them about your issues or what you want.
2. Think before speaking, if you have an altercation with a colleague or client then don’t call or email them straight away; reply later when you have cooled down and really thought about it.
3. Avoid heated and emotional conflict. Nothing ever comes from forcefully establishing your point of view; it is much better to begin in a friendly, emotionally intelligent way, proving that you see the other person’s point of view and then slowly cajoling them round to your way of thinking.
4. As proven by the unfortunate video of One Direction smoking cannabis in a taxi last week (apparently taken by one of their phones), you never know who is reading your tweets, blogs or online comments or videos. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want other people seeing. Take time with content you’re going to put out there and also with any communication you are sending a client. It is always worth getting one other person to check it before you send or post.
5. Regularly review internal comms and make sure they are working for everyone in the team, e.g. are you having the right amount of meetings?
How does communication work in your company? Could improvements be made?