Clear Communications is Everyone’s Job
I recently read a tweet from a politician that was full of grammatical errors. While that’s not uncommon, what was interesting were the replies. I was amazed at how people slammed the communications staff for not doing their job properly.
As a PR professional, I’ll admit I’ve written social media posts for organizations and individuals. It’s part of the job. But guess what, people still do tweet their own thoughts.
Here’s my issue with this story. The focus was on blaming communications professionals instead of the person who owned the account (and most likely wrote the tweet).
While I admit us communicators have an important role to play, clear communications is everyone’s job. The danger of relying too heavily on professionals is avoiding doing the work needed to improve your own communications skills.
This is like giving your taxes to an accountant and never taking the time to review your profit and loses or overdue invoices. You need a basic understanding of your cash flow and expenses so your bills get paid and you don’t have any big surprises at tax time.
I’ve never once done my own taxes, having always hired an accountant. Even though I trust a professional to keep me from being audited, over the years I’ve still taken the time to improve my bookkeeping skills. This has allowed me to not only understanding my net and gross income, but also know which questions to ask to avoid costly tax complications.
Soft skills matter
Many organizations run courses on Excel, WHMIS, CPR and other technical skills. But courses for the soft skills can be harder to find.
Why? Because there’s a flawed assumption that soft skills come easy to people.
Having worked with engineers, I can tell you that’s definitely not the case.
You can easily identify the culture of an organization based on its training calendar. An organization with an abundance of technical programs and very few soft skills offerings, tends to be focused on a management approach, with a linear way of thinking. Whereas organizations that offer more soft skill training (such as improving presentation skills, conflict resolution, writing skills) often has a leadership approach, developing the strengths of others.
Many of the most successful and profitable organizations take a leadership approach, as they know the best way to innovate and grow is to develop talent instead of keeping it confided to a job title.
How do they do this? By leaning into soft skills – including communications.
Going back to that horribly written tweet, it says more about the politician than it does the communications staff. I’m sure you can easily think of a few politicians who have nailed social media and others who flounder (or have even been banned).
The politician who couldn’t string together a grammatically correct tweet, likely isn’t an inspiring speaker or engaging leader. Having researched this particular politician, he’s definitely a facts and figures person. It’s all about drilling down into what’s black and white instead of finding the colours to connect with others.
While it’s great to be able to analyze data or understand complex economics, you still need to be able to communicate it in a way others will relate to and comprehend. Otherwise, you’re just talking into the wind.
Thanks to the surge in online learning since COVID, there’s no shortage of opportunities to grow your soft skills. Watch a YouTube video, attend a conference, sign up for a course or simply Google for information.
With endless ways to learn, there’s no excuse for not strengthening your communications skills. Skills that make a difference between being a manager and a leader.
And I can promise you – our world needs more leaders, not managers.
If I can figure out how to read a spreadsheet, you can learn how speak clearly and concisely. Afterall, clear communications is everyone’s job.