I had an interesting conversation today with one of the newer members of the team who was discussing the strange situation where you can go from briefing a very senior police officer to working with a relatively new in post PC. This is the joy and the challenge for communicators – understanding people no matter what their background.
If we are to be effective at what we do then there are a few key elements for me. Firstly, you have to recognise the value in communicating with everybody. It doesn’t matter if it is the cleaner or the Chief Executive you have to see the benefit in speaking to them and understand how everyone is important.
But more than that you have to enjoy speaking to people. There is nothing more fascinating than learning about people, their lives, their viewpoint, what matters to them and what they value. Everyone has a great story to tell but you have to want to listen. Being keen to talk to everyone and anyone you meet along your way is something I have definitely gained from my dad. He just loves to meet people and talk, and so do I.
Secondly, you have to be able to speak to everyone from the boss to the newest member of the organisation. This means understanding what matters to them and tailoring the conversation accordingly. It is vital as a communicator to be able to identify what is important to people and then target your engagement so it is more likely to resonate. If you are going to be an effective communicator being able to switch tone, focus and message is essential.
Finally, your conversation has to be inclusive. This means never forgetting everyone that you meet and the contribution they make. Everyone matters. To a professional communicator the old contact book is still important. It is our connections that can help us develop and deliver effective communication.
For me, I will continue chatting to everyone from the cleaner in the morning to the senior officers during the day. And more than that I will make sure I do plenty of listening.