For most of us it is popular to believe that you can judge a person by their willingness to look you in the eye and the firmness of their handshake. It reflects a community acceptance that certain behaviours provided sign posts – physical and visual – to a series of beliefs and values, helping to explain a communications narrative.
Now, individual and community sign posting in all its forms is not only much more complex but is increasingly played out in a range of public forums. And those forums are accessed by your clients, potential clients and commentators.
This type of continuous scrutiny means communication missteps can be fatal and their impact potentially international and almost immediate. Just ask the Australian Prime Minister whose ill-timed wink coincided with a discussion about pensioners – and any messaging he intended was obliterated by the “wink”.
While you may not be under the scrutiny of a lense, like the Prime Minster, those around you are consciously or unconsciously reading and interpreting your choice of words, tone and gestures. You need to harness all facets of communications to build your credibility, create impact, influence and effect change.
It is also how you destroy it.
Your narrative, your messaging must now be capable of withstanding professional and community based scrutiny. Say what you mean and mean what you say is the new mantra. Remember Aristotle – the Greek philosopher who knew a thing or two about persuasive communications – who argued there were three key factors: ethos (how the speaker conveys credibility); pathos (how to connect and move your audience); and logos (the words/language used).
It's popular now to refer to communication as building a narrative. It's not a new technique. Throughout history we have always understood our community and our world through stories and storytelling. It is how we join the dots together and make sense of what is happening around us. We use this interpretation to guide us through the stories because information does not live in a vacuum.
The question becomes 'How do you make those communication connections'? 'How do you build your credibility and make your message stand out in a world filled with chatter, ego's and the odd narcissist (or two)'? And importantly 'How do you create and effect change'? Equally as important is understanding 'How to avoid fracturing your credibility''.
I will be discussing these and other aspects in a regular blog. I will be inviting other professionals to contribute from time to time and am keen to ensure that this becomes an interactive exchange of professional thoughts.