Communication is at the heart of everything we do, how we speak to ourselves, how we talk to others, how we get ideas across. The discussions of this seminar had many topics that were all intertwined, and a few phrases stuck out to me. One was “listening to respond vs. listening to understand.” Wow. As soon as I heard that, I immediately thought of multiple instances where I listened to respond instead of hearing the other person’s message. The next point is “finding common ground.” If you are not actively listening, how can you first understand and then find common ground? Communication skills are invaluable when managing conflict, misunderstandings, building a coalition, etc.
It is possible to be both honest and kind at the same time. For me, that is where being candid with others comes in. You never want to hurt someone’s feelings; that is natural, but sometimes not telling someone something critical is the unkind thing to do. Knowing your audience and having a solid relationship with the other person so you can talk about the uncomfortable things cannot be overlooked.
People like to receive feedback in different ways. I have found that people appreciate you telling them upfront information rather than giving them a bad performance review or termination. If you can let them know certain behaviors or actions are not suitable upfront, you can provide them with the opportunity to be self-aware and also correct them. That is kinder than letting the ” issue” get out of hand to where discipline is needed. Kim Scott gave a perfect scenario of why being candid is so vital in Radical Candor. Likewise, Jack Welch discusses the topic in his books and interviews. If there was something you needed to change to be a better leader, wouldn’t you want to know?
Media & Crisis Communication
There was a lot of great information from Norman Hyde and Kathy Dixon on the media training portion and with Corinne Geller on crisis communication. While I have had communication courses in the past, media and crisis are entirely different animals. Like anything else, it takes practice. While maybe you are the one being interviewed, you have the upper hand in many ways. You can work to prepare your message ahead of time through fact sheets, understanding the leanings (of the media group), and creating an environment you are comfortable with. They brought up some excellent points that sometimes the interviewer does not know everything and the importance of developing a relationship with your local media to call on you as a source to help them and get the messaging correct! Trying to stay on message and brand is essential, and you may even have to do some re-directing. While their tips were media-specific, it translates into most conversations you have with others. Staying on topic and knowing your facts or admitting when you do not know something are all hallmarks of a good communicator.
One of the great opportunities I see with the media is social media. As an industry, we were behind on getting started, and we can play to our strengths in this arena. The issue is, it’s a full-time job, and not everyone is comfortable with the platform. Having those open and honest conversations about what we do and why we do it is critical to not only getting our messaging out there but having people understand our industry. There are so many negative stories out there that portray half the picture. I read something the other day that a blogger shared a recipe and told her viewers to get organic vegetables because you don’t have to wash them. Yikes! Unfortunately, it’s easier to try to ignore the falsehoods being pushed. Misconceptions are everywhere. I am amazed by how many people are out there talking about the benefits of AG, one of my favorites is the Nutrition.At.Its.Roots. I will leave you with one of my favorite posts.