Communicating Intentionally Wednesday Wisdom #16 January 19, 2021 A Trust Building Platform From Which All Behaviors, Intentions, Strategies and De

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Communicating Intentionally

Wednesday Wisdom #16

January 19, 2021

A Trust Building Platform From Which All Behaviors, Intentions, Strategies and Decisions Flow

Civility Credo  1


Over the years, I’ve developed, teach, coach. and advocate a very powerful and helpful communication philosophy. At the same time, this approach defines my ethical approach to life, to work and to trouble. I call these “intentions” because this is how I seek to operate my life every day, and to teach others to do the same. These behaviors build trust and prevent, detect, or deter misbehavior.

This is your cultural communication strategy.
This is your general communication strategy.
This is your internal communication strategy.
This is your external communication strategy.
This is your readiness communication strategy.
This is your leadership communication strategy.
This is your crisis communication strategy.

Ingredients of Intentional Communication

1. Candor – Truth with an attitude, DELIVERED NOW (candor is the foundation of trust).

Disclose, announce early. (announcing and disclosing later destroys your credibility, ruins trust, and makes you unreliable.)
Explain reasoning and reasons.
Discuss options, alternatives considered.
Provide unsolicited helpful information.

2. Openness, accessibility – Be available for the disasters as well as the ribbon cuttings.

Be available.
Be willing to respond.
Be ready with advance information (why wait to be asked?)

3. Truthfulness – Truth is 15% facts and data, 85% emotion and point-of-reference.

Point of reference matters more than facts.
Factual overload victimizes people and makes them feel stupid, therefore angrier.
Unconditional honesty, from the start.
Get good at handling emotional situations, subjects and people.
Deal with the emotional elements first, nothing else will be heard or believed by the victims until you do.

4. Empathy – Action always speaks louder than words.

It is literally impossible to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in any meaningful way, from the victim’s perspective. Stop trying.
Action illustrates concern, sensitivity, compassion, and sometimes contrition.
Act as though it was happening to you or someone you care about.
Stumble, fumble, or bungle empathy or apology and that’s what your reputation becomes, even if your response is technically perfect.

5. Responsiveness – In every situation, relentlessly and continuously answer questions, regardless of the source, validates your integrity. Bosses get tired of answering questions quickly. They also become impatient when the same questions are asked and answered many times. When they ask, “how soon can we take all these questions and answers down?” the answer is, “When people stop asking.”

Consider every concern or question, regardless of the source, legitimate and must be addressed.
Answer every question; avoid judging questioners.
Stop taking questions personally. You’ll sleep better.

6. Transparency – No secrets (because important things and stupid stuff always come out.)

Our behavior, our attitude, our plans, even our strategic discussions must be unchallengeable, positive, explainable, and available.
Our families would be comfortable reading about our actions, decisions, and discussions on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper, CNN, or any social media platform.
What would your mother say, ask, expect? Be ready for it, tell her in advance.
Seriously, as most senior executives know, the one person they talk to most of all, if she is available, is mom.

7. Engagement – Face-to-face is the communications approach desired by just about everyone and certainly every victim.

Take aggressive positive interaction with those who challenge us.
Our base and those who give us permission to operate expect us to deal with unconvinceables, victims, and antagonists. Stop resisting. Just learn to deal with it. Engagement is expected of honorable people, products, and organizations.
Prompt direct interactive response, even negotiation, always empowers the initiator.

8. Destiny Management – It’s your destiny, which only you can manage in your own best interest.

Manage your own destiny, or someone waiting on the sidelines will do it for you.
Relentlessly correct, clarify, and comment on the record; constructively, helpfully, and truthfully.
Prompt, positive, constructive elaboration of the facts preempts critics and empowers employees, supporters and those who give us permission to operate.
Good, powerful, emotional, true stories often defeat even the best data and experts.
One of my favorite Winston Churchill stories is when he made the comment that the public would appreciate his significance and roles through the history of World War II and followed it by, “I know this because I intend to write that history.” He did and we do.

9. Apology – The atomic energy of empathy. Apologies stop just about every bad thing from happening and prevent bad things from starting, including litigation.

The perfect apology*:

Acknowledges personal responsibility for having injured, insulted, failed, or wronged another.
Explains what happened and the known reasons for the circumstance.
Talks about what they and their organization have learned that will help prevent it from ever happening again.
Humbly asks for forgiveness in exchange for more appropriate future behavior and to make amends.
Makes/offers restitution

Based on The Perfect Apology by James E. Lukaszewski, as published in the PR News Tipsheet.

Concluding Thoughts

If I were to name this document something else, I would call it the Concept of Complete Communication. It’s a system and a process. The way it works is as a series of questions to ask yourself and others who create communications. If it expresses one, some, or all of the crucial basic concepts we expect communications to accomplish:

1. Is it civil? Meaning, fundamentally positive.
2. Is it candid? Meaning, truthful and immediately important.
3. Does it reflect openness and accessibility? Our availability to talk, confer, and collaborate, regardless of the circumstances.
4. Is it truthful? Does it have emotional referencing? Does it tell a good story or two? Remember, the more facts you include, the less likely it is to be all that appreciated.
5. Does it advocate or explain actions that can or will be taken? Do those behaviors speak louder than words? Remember, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is an arrogant and failed notion. Avoid it. Do things that matter.
6. Does it answer questions that have been asked, as well as questions that will be asked?
7. Is it transparent? Does it reveal things that need to be revealed, at the earliest possible moment.
8. Is it truly engaging? The real power in almost any situation goes to the person or group who begins to engage first.
9. Does it manage your destiny? Does it correct, clarify, or comment constructively on the issues, discussion, or concern?
10. Is an apology in order, and is it powerfully conclusive? The value of apology is that apologies tend to stop bad things from starting and apologies begin stopping bad things that are happening.
11. Does it promote civility, honesty, truthfulness, decency, and integrity?

Teach yourself and your communicators to think along these lines and it will change the entire tone of your relationship with everyone with whom you deal.

Perfect Apology
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