We’d need several extra hands to count the proverbs, clichés and maxims decorating our collective thoughtscape on the topic of effective communication. Being a business communications freelancer when not wearing my Slow School hat, my daily bread is earned by guiding clients’ intended messages safely through this psychological labyrinth.
What I’ve realised is that many of the landmarks I use are actually Slow School’s guiding principles reframed. Some are more obvious than others. Connection: that moment of mutual recognition, a shared stimulus-response acknowledged by each party. Compassion: expression of shared humanity that confirms each party’s understanding of the other, in a space beyond weights and measures.
How about Consciousness? That one is always the biggest piece of my puzzle. It’s no secret that (insert adage here) people see what they want or expect to see. The professional communicator’s job isn’t to present one message to one target audience comprised of identical thinkers. If only! Rather, our job is to anticipate the most vital of possible interpretations and craft into one single package a multitude of messages on manifold levels that hit as many of those bulls-eyes as possible. Take a moment now to consider some of the most powerful messages you’ve experienced. How many of your personal bulls-eyes felt tender there? That was a master communicator at work.
Next up, we have Co-creation. It takes two to tango and, as just mentioned, messages aren’t neatly wrapped parcels exchanged between giver and receiver. Messages are feats of creation from inception through to transmission and interpretation, with all parties being thoroughly involved in the process – and the end result being more or less different for each, depending on the level of synergy achieved.
Finally and most importantly is Courage. Regardless of the final results, our communications always start out as little pieces of ourselves that we bare to the world. From the most banal small talk to our deepest personal beliefs, everything we communicate begins somewhere within us. The greatest feats of communication – those that inspire and drive me to keep going – arise from people brave enough to delve into their darkest depths for truth. Then resurfacing with a shard of their heart, they lovingly release it into the universe for the betterment of all.
Community Manager – The Slow School of Business