Saturday 20 September 2008

Don't shoot the messenger!

So much of our mission, all of our missions, is about communications. It is about the delivery, and not so much about the message. It is about how we say it, and not about what we say. This is a challenge we all face, every day.

So much in life is about delivery. If a person is a bad communicator they will typically get shot down, and the message will be discarded, no matter how significant or important it is. That is how it is.

We all gotta learn to be better at selling - selling is a key aspect of communications. If people don't buy it then a war may break out, even if deep down what you say is exactly what they believe. If you can't finds the right words, or, if you don't say it in a way that gets their buy-in then things can go horribly wrong, and more often than not, they do!

If we can't communicate then it doesn't matter how many ideas we have, or how clever we are, etc. Nothing matters if one can't engage others in civilized conversation. Communications is vital to one's well being and we all need to think about how to communicate effectively. When I go to the toilet at work (yes, I have to go now and then) and it always amazes me when I am standing there doing my thing and someone walks in and suddenly turns to me and goes "I need to talk to you urgently". What?

If you want someone to take you seriously then go and see them - don't try and talk to them when you bump them in the toilet. A few weekends ago some guy bumped me in the mall and says to me "Ronnie, I really need to talk to you". So I said "Sure - no problem - give me a call on Monday and let's chat or set up a meeting". And he said, "Can't I talk to you now". And I said, "I am in a hurry - I am on my way to meet someone". And he looked at me funny and mumbled something. And then this clown coughs up "Why can't we talk now?" So I called the police. Seriously, I said to him "We never planned on meeting now - you just happened to bump into me - I am in a hurry". So he said "Fine, I will call you on Monday then". And guess what - I never heard from him! The usual story.

In short, our basic problem is that they have no idea how to communicate - if something was so important or so urgent then he would have called ages ago. Was this guy in our story walking around the mall for the past year hoping to bump into me.

Effective communications is also about making an effort. The other day, back at IS, another intriguing guy says to me, when I walked past him in the corridor, "Ronnie, I have been looking for you all week - I need to talk to you". What ?

Three Jehovah’s witnesses tracked me down, and my mother and my rabbi never have a problem finding me. What was he on about? He even said he tried to call me. Interesting, because I never got any messages or any emails saying he was looking for me. I never got a note on my desk or under my door. Nothing! And this is the bottom line: say what you mean and mean what you say. That is what a big part of delivering the message is all about.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker