Communication principles are the same whether in your personal or business relationships
Written by Jim Walsh
Different management styles, whether in sport or business, are replicated by the variety of personal and communication approaches of those who report to these managers.
The elements of communicating remain the same whether you are managing or being managed. Attitude, body language, tone of voice, context and communication methods as well as content, all shape the way any communication is understood or interpreted.
Communicating electronically, whether by email, SMS or even by telephone leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation because a huge chunk of these attributes are missing.
One of my first managers, who had no formal management training, had the art of communication down to one sentence, ‘think of the person receiving your message.’ He was the manager in a printing office and was training us in the art of writing instructions in a way that would make the job easier for the typesetter. In modern communications it translates into ‘shape your message so that it is clearly understood by your audience.’
As an employee in PR your manager and indeed peers are as much your audience as your clients, media or the myriad of suppliers and service providers that you have to deal with. Often it is easy to forget this.
There are not many PR courses that spend much time on personal communications within a PR department or agency. PR courses teach people to communicate effectively and persuasively on behalf of their organisations or clients. Yet personal communication is as important on an individual level as is learning the structures in which PR people work on a daily basis.
All the attributes mentioned earlier, attitude, body language etc are important. That is not to say everyone is expected to be clappy-happy all day, every day irrespective of how we are feeling. But a positive attitude is really important even when you feel anything but positive inside. Nothing antagonises a manager more than someone who appears to be disinterested or bored with their work.
Within Walsh PR when interviewing for new colleagues while we look for a basic knowledge in the skills we require, we believe that practical skills can be learned but people don’t learn to adopt new personalities or characters. We therefore give a heavy weighting to character, integrity, a sense of positivity, ability to work well with our team and willingness to learn.
That approach has served us well over 30 years during which, with few exceptions, we have been privileged to have worked with colleagues who had these attributes in spades.