Communications are becoming exponentially more complex and instantaneous with each passing day. In fact, information about an event such as an Olympic Gold Medal win in London reaches Beijing, Los Angeles, Sydney, Miami and Branson, Missouri simultaneously. There is zero time delay between continents as the information, good and bad, swiftly passes through the electronic communications universe and social media.
Some might say communication today is all about speed, perhaps even warp speed, but that is far from the truth when communicating a specific message to your workforce. A new aspect of communications is being overlooked in the workplace – feeling. Feeling is not to be confused with the traditionally accepted definition of feelings such as happy or sad, but rather it is about listening to your gut feeling, personal intuition or internal knowingness.
On the surface, it is easy to confuse gut feeling with feelings when communicating, but it’s critical to understand the differences. You can no longer tell the 21st Century worker everything is going to be okay when they can feel internally that something is wrong. You can no longer use platitudes and flowery talking points to drive home a message when their instincts and surrounding circumstances are internally screaming just the opposite.
With the phenomenon of the social media explosion has come the blessings of speed and instantaneous access to information. It is the speed of the information that also contains the curse. For example: is the information true or deliberately deception? Is it a proper representation of fact, a deliberate deception or simply an uninformed opinion?
Once social media entered the communication equation all rules changed. Unknown to most, two major communication influencers appeared – brevity and discernment. Every communication and marketing plan in the world needs to adapt to these two important shifts or be left floundering and gasping to be heard in the morass of the social media clutter.
Brevity – If you cannot tweet every major message you wish to convey to your workforce in 140 characters or less, it is too long. If what you’ve tweeted cannot be re-tweeted as you’ve presented it without misinterpretation then don’t send out the original tweet. The new communication rule is – people hear in sound bites and tweet-able statements. Anything longer gets lost in the morass of information clutter.
Also, tweet your information before it becomes a rumor. Most people will believe the first tweet they receive about a subject and the follow up re-tweets rather than checking on its authenticity and legitimacy. Be first, say what you mean and be brief.
Discernment – Because of all the identity theft threats, password warnings, computer viruses, painful social media attacks and online scams, people have become much more discerning and wary. They tend to use their internal knowingness to evaluate whether they are being scammed or being told the truth. They have developed their sixth sense so to speak, that uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs that tells them something is wrong or don’t believe what is said. It kicks in that intuitive trigger to fight or flee.
This is a very different kind of “feeling” from that of being happy, sad, angry or satisfied. Your workforce can feel if you are telling them the truth, whether you are rolling out a new plan that will be successful or asking for their help in making the company grow. They can also tell whether you are being sincere or just giving them an empty pep talk to get them to do more with less.
Social media’s blessing is that the recipient of the information is much savvier and is receptive to receiving it if presented in understandable small sound bites and will happily share it with others if they believe it to be true. Social media’s curse is that the same message can be rapidly disbursed in a negative way if it was not clear, concise or believable.
These new rules of engagement must be incorporated into any company’s communication and marketing plan. The 21st Century workforce has an internal feeling compass that you can no longer ignore. The more important the message, the shorter and more concise it must be.
All messages can be followed up and expanded upon in face-to-face meetings, teleconferences and a myriad of other electronic forms of communication. However, your initial message must be brief, accurate and truthful to be effective, engaging and most importantly, result in the outcome you desire.
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.