Take a fresh look at things

When we go about our daily life it is very easy to get stuck into one way of doing things, one way of looking at life and the events around us. For anyone working in communication this can be a huge disadvantage as you absolutely have to be able to assimilate everything around you and look at different perspectives.

How do we avoid getting stuck in this position? There is no easy answer about how you can keep refreshing your viewpoint. The key has to be about having a number of methods of detaching, looking, and reviewing circumstances. And every time you think you are getting stuck into a rut give yourself a jolt and make sure you take a step in a different direction.

I noticed this week that I was choosing to see things around me in a particular way and in doing this I was always then going to choose the same course of action. It is incredibly limiting in a personal capacity to have this approach. But then it also has a negative effect on my ability to be able to develop communication activity as I bring my baggage into the considerations. I have to recognise this may be a comfortable position but it isn’t the most productive.

The future has to be to challenge my thoughts and perceptions, so that I can see the impact they may have if I let them. Above all I need to take a fresh look at things, events and circumstances around me.

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Addicted to work? Well, possibly.

I have had a busy few days and am sat on a Sunday night doing a bit more work before heading back into the office on Monday morning. It made me think. Why do I love my work so much? Am I addicted to work, and if so why?

For many people in 2015 work has become increasingly demanding. We are all connected 24 hours a day and able to do more hours at work and of course with the financial crisis we are all more focused on ensuring we continue to work. Add to that if you are working in a media related industry it is a 24/7 occupation and there is no time to snooze.

All those things are important to me and will explain a little bit of why I find myself doing increasing amounts of work. However, I think there is something more than that. It is linked to two things; that I work in the public sector and that I work for the police service.

Working in public sector communication is hugely rewarding. Everything that you do has a real impact on people and their lives. You have a big responsibility to ensure that people have knowledge about what you do, how to access services, and to feel they can impact and improve the services.

Police communicators have an additional responsibility. They have the chance to improve safety in communities. They have the chance to help find criminals and wanted people. They have the chance to help protect the most vulnerable in our neighbourhoods. They can do all this because they work alongside police officers and staff to improve the flow of information and they do this round the clock.

I have worked in police communications for around 16 years and still find it an exciting and at times challenging communication role. It brings new things every day and it is this variety, challenge and direct impact on people that make it incredibly rewarding. It is what makes me slightly addicted to working in police communication – and for that I make no apologies.

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What is blogtober?

I had a thought suddenly that came to me today (Saturday 19 September) when I was riding my horse. Ideas can creep up on you in the oddest of places and this morning the idea came from nowhere. It started as one word and then I considered how it could be defined. The word is blogtober.

What is blogtober? For me I want it to be a whole month when we celebrate what is good from the many blogs that exist. Every day somewhere between two and four million blogs are written, according to a range of statistics. That is a lot of words that are being added to the world wide web on an hourly basis. We need to celebrate the creativity of blogs every day during October.

For many people finding really interesting and exciting blogs is difficult and can be time consuming. I want blogtober to be a chance to recognise those amazing blogs that people enjoy but also to share them with others so that they can read something new and hopefully find some articles they can enjoy.

I am encouraging people to start writing a blog, more frequently blog on existing sites, and also to share the best blog sites with others on social media. If you have never written a blog post then why not give it a go during October.

Blogtober will mean for me three things:

  1. More frequent blogging about important communication related subjects
  2. Checking out a new blog to read each day
  3. Encouraging others to read or write a blog

So, what could blogtober mean for you? I will be interested to hear views about what it could be.

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Liking a like or disliking a like

The news is filled today (Wednesday 16 September) with news that Facebook is going to introduce a dislike button to its options. Opinion seems to be split about whether that is a good thing and what may come from this change. For me, it has introduced more concern as I will have to get to grips with what this means.

For years I have struggled with the fact that I post some bad news on Facebook to share with friends and then they like it. I realise, although it still feels strange, that they are using the like to show support rather than liking the fact some tragedy has unfolded. It is even more confusing for me at work as details of some appalling crime is posted and then people like it. I really struggle with this as I know that they can’t be supportive of the criminal.

So how am I going to deal with this new dislike button?

Personally I know that if someone dislikes something I post then I will feel it is a negative position for me. Imagine that I post something about having a good day or achieving something and it then gets disliked that will definitely be the end of a friendship. And at least I will be able to see who has disliked it. At work the dislike button could create some havoc. I would be concerned if victims on telling their stories are disliked as they may feel it is directed at them rather than at the nature of the crime.

In short, it is going to take a bit of time to get used to this change and I just hope people use it in a positive way. I can only think of something my mum has regularly said to me ‘if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all’.

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Summing up my contribution to the week

I have written before about the importance of considering how you present yourself and what legacy you leave behind. As I was driving home from work today (Friday) I listened, as I often do, to the Last Word on Radio 4. For anyone who hasn’t heard it, it isn’t the most cheery of programmes as it is a weekly obituary programme giving the life stories of those who have recently died.

If you look at it from a positive perspective then it is a great way to learn about some of the amazing achievements of people not just the famous but real people who have made a difference. On the latest programme they were discussing one person and the interviewee provided a list to describe them.

So what would people list about me? What are the achievements I have made? But more than that how would people describe me?

There is nothing more powerful than the impression you make when you meet people whether you know them or not. Every day we cross paths with hundreds of people and every one of those connections is a chance to leave a little joy. It is a chance to make people smile and for them to feel good if only we make the effort.

For anyone working in a public facing role this is important. If you are a nurse, police officer, council worker or other such service provider then being able to leave a positive impression even when you are under pressure and may not be at your best is a vital skill. With the work environment becoming increasingly challenging as there are fewer people and still more things to do keeping morale up is going to be one of the critical things for public sector bosses.

As I reflect on a week at work I wonder what words people would use to sum me up? My three words on my contribution to this week would be demanding, knowledgeable and fun. Hopefully others may agree.

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Back to my roots

The past week was a really tough one at work. Partly because of the amount of work that had to be done, and arrived relentlessly throughout the working week. But also because we were short-staffed through a series of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. It would have been easy to get overwhelmed and stressed by the daily grind to keep things going. It didn’t so what did I learn?

Firstly, it proved that the Musketeers had it right. It does have to be ‘all for one and one for all’ to really achieve results. We all worked together no matter what our specialism, what we were working on or what our personal views were. Each member of the team recognised how important they were as a vital cog in the team. We support those most in need and in turn it ensured we all supported each other.

Secondly, it highlighted the significant place a sense of humour and some light relief have within the busy work environment. Well being and mindfulness may be the buzz words at the moment but being able to have a laugh within the team is also essential.

Finally, I got the chance to go back to my roots. I was drafted in to deal with the media queries that were coming in and as my boss told me it wasn’t demotion it was going ‘back to the floor’. It may have happened because of a necessity (we didn’t have enough people to do the job) but it was a great way of keeping in touch with what the frontline staff are facing.

When the week drew to a close we could reflect on what had been achieved. It may not have been earth-shattering but in doing the day-to-day well and as a team we had achieved a lot. It isn’t something we want to face on a regular basis but we came through it and gained a lot from the experience.

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With a little patience

It may sound very unlikely but I have just finished my first attempt at needlepoint. For those who don’t know this is when you do very small stitches to create an image and it is really labour intensive and time-consuming. It sounded like a good idea to undertaken this huge task as a special anniversary present for loved ones. But I don’t think I really understood the one thing it needed above all – patience.

We all need to be able to show patience in our lives, with work, with relationships and with events that we want to make happen. It is true that the best things are worth the wait but in that waiting time you need to keep your cool which may not be easy.

Modern life has brought us much. The ability to be able to keep in touch with people when we are on the go, fresh food whenever we want it, ever-increasing healthcare, the list is endless. But in this fast paced world where we can get so much at our fingertips it is becoming ever more difficult to be able to remain patient.

I believe patience is a really important asset for us all. It helps us to remain focused on what we want, but also to enjoy where we are at the moment. It encourages us to save up for the items we want to buy knowing we can own them without our debt growing. It allows us to build happiness today, now in a mindful way.

Things may have to happen at a slower speed. We may need to invest years to get to where we ultimately would like to be. For example, we have to invest three or more years at university to secure the relevant qualification, or we may need to build our knowledge and experience within work to get that management job we want to have. Neither of those things are going to happen overnight so if we can be patient we will have a more rewarding time on the journey ahead.

I may not take up needlepoint as an everyday pastime but it has reminded me that patience is a key part of modern life, and something we should not forget.

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