Considerate Comms

William Wilberforce

In Western terms it was William Wilberforce, the 19th century champion for the abolition of the slave-trade, who coined the phrase and terminology “manners”, encouraging considerate behaviour towards others.  In a purely social context, we generally prefer spending time with people with pleasant social habits rather than poor ones.  Nobody likes to sit in a restaurant with the person at the adjacent table picking his or her nose.

On the nose front, however, there are cultural differences as my mother-in-law found out as she travelled in a taxi in Indonesia years ago.  She was chastised by the driver who exclaimed that it was the height of disgusting behaviour to blow your nose into a small piece of cotton and then put it back in your pocket – he then proceeded to blow his nose straight out of the taxi window onto the street!

Enough of noses … Manners and courtesy, of course, also relate greatly to what we say; the words we use and how we say them.  We have all experienced the lie that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”.  It is a great question to consider what sort of verbal culture we are creating in our workplaces and homes.  We expect our employees to speak to us and their colleagues and clients with politeness and warmth so we indeed need to treat them with the same considerateness.

I read recently about  ‘Mindful Communication’ where readers of the Huffington Post were encouraged to really consider what they were about to say before they said it,  ie. “Is what I am about to say to this person how I would like to be spoken to?”  If we are not sure then even writing it down and rephrasing the communication could save unnecessary offence, difficulty and upset.

We can be careful, as good communicators, that the words we are choosing to use are creating a positive environment around us, our colleagues and employees and so make for a happier workplace. Much has been said about the dangers of being misunderstood by poorly thought-through texts and emails, but this continues to be something for excellent leaders and communicators to think about with regards to our verbal comms.

 

It’s All In A Word

Occupied (with upper case O), occupied (with lower case o) or not occupied… How much passion can be aroused over the absence, removal or addition of one small word.  Julie Bishop’s stance to no longer call the Gaza strip “occupied” resulted in much heated debate around the world.

Politicians, lawyers, barristers and writers are, by necessity, very skilled in the art of well and carefully chosen words because, as we have seen so recently, one word can carry so much weight and significance.

Similarly, as excellent communicators – ones who are skilled at conveying information, ideas and policy to others – we must have a broad, rich and well chosen vocabulary.  Some strategies for developing a dictionary in our brains that means we do have the necessary words available are to read, read, read; listen to excellent communicators; learn a new word a week on a dictionary app; do crosswords; play Scrabble etc …

My father had a very broad vocabulary, the result of being an avid reader, and I can still hear him now, in my mind, saying words that I would guess at their meanings and have fun trying to use them myself.

My word for this week is ‘Omniscient’ meaning “all-knowing”!

World Cup Fever

I heard shrieks and shouts coming from our sitting room very early the other morning, my husband was freely utilising his vocal cords!  My son poked his head out of his bedroom and asked if everything was alright … I ventured into the afore-mentioned room to find my darling shouting at the TV as England equalised against Italy – very serious stuff!

It has also been an interesting week for Phil Neville, the former Manchester United and Everton player, who has been maligned in the press for his less than auspicious first effort at commentating.  His co-commentary of the England vs Italy match was met with 445 complaints to the BBC due to his monotone delivery and lack of emotion.  Jokes were made that England’s physio, Gary Lewin, had injured his ankle “falling into a coma” brought on by the monotony of listening to Mr Neville.  Phil responded in a good natured way by saying that he was glad he could help the nation to fall asleep: We may have young children who we would like to be lulled to sleep at bedtime, but not passionate adults wanting to be inspired whilst watching their beloved footie!

It is a problem that, in many walks of life, we can be excellent at our chosen careers but have had no training to enable us to successfully commentate, speak publicly and effectively communicate information or our thoughts and ideas.  I am sure that Phil will now be quick to employ the services of someone who can help him to improve the modulation and energy behind his speaking ….

… Is that my phone ringing now?!

Voice Is Influence

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The Voice!  We hear a lot about Voice these days particularly with regards to the singing voice.  We love to see the buttons pressed, the chairs swing round and the thrilled look on a contestant’s face as they are recognised as potentially having a voice with star quality.

However, Voice is a lot more than just sounding melodious or hitting high notes – as admirable and as practised as all that is.  Voice is about influence, it is also about passion.  Certainly, in some contexts, we can affect and influence others by our actions alone but, nine times out of ten, it is our words  and how we use them – persuasively, kindly, analytically, reasonably, encouragingly or harshly … that brings influence to bear.  We think of the evocative speeches of Martin Luther King Jnr, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, Hitler, Lenin, the list goes on … men and women with a Voice and the ability to influence others, some for much good and some for great evil.

We live in a world where it is important to consider how we are using our voices to bring a positive influence in our worlds of families, friends, and colleagues.