Posted by: Kristen Ridley | October 7, 2010

Just call me the accidental super-hero

Superhero

Being a communications person in a corporate environment is a challenge. The way “business” has evolved over the past 15 years that I’ve been doing this job has created a number of obstacles directly in opposition to the effective communication basics a communicator is always advocating [cajoling, pushing, begging] for:

 

-Clear
-Honest
-Specific
-Interactive [two-way communications]

Between the political correctness police, the trend to sue everyone for everything, and the highly public businesses whose bad behaviour has created ramifications that will probably affect all of us for decades to come, too many leaders have cried: “Uncle” crawled under their desks, and taken the path of least resistance – “don’t say anything real to anyone at any time about anything we’re doing and we won’t get in any trouble”.

Of course it doesn’t work that way. The truth is it’s almost NEVER a good strategy to say nothing, because as we all know nature abhors a vacuum and if we don’t tell “them” [whichever audience “them” happens to be] something officially, “they” will make it up. And nine times out of ten, when they make it up, it’s embellished to be far worse than the actual situation could ever be!

So, what’s my point? Well, my point is that as communicators, we have to be determined to consistently counsel our businesses, our leaders, our share-holders – really all our business partners – about the importance, and more importantly the VALUE of creating and maintaining open and honest conversations with our audiences, because THAT is how you truly mitigate negative situations and take advantage of opportunities to build your business.

To do that, however, takes some serious fortitude and persistence. Because we communicators are sometimes not taken seriously by the leaders at the highest levels of our organizations. I’m not whining about that damned “seat at the table” here, because I firmly believe that it is up to each and every one of us to PROVE why the leaders should listen to us – there is no free lunch. However, it is a challenge and it can wear you thin.

So, on those days when I feel more like nerdy Peter Parker than the impressively lycra-clad Spider-Man, I remind myself about the moments where the work I do IS recognized and appreciated.

Like the day a couple of weeks ago, when a colleague with whom I worked on a project made a point of dropping by my office in person, to tell me what a pleasant surprise it had been to have me as a member of the project because I did exactly what I said I would, and delivered everything exactly when I said it would be ready, so he didn’t have to spend any time or effort following up and could just focus on his own work for the project [which was dependant upon mine].

Now aside from the fact that it’s disappointing and unfortunate that this kind of behaviour is remarkable, it was a wonderful validation of the manner in which I strive I do my job, particularly since it was unsolicited and in person. This individual took the time out of a busy day to say thank you. It was a good reminder to me of two things:

1) I need to look for opportunities to pay that forward by saying thank you to my own colleagues whenever it’s appropriate, and,

2) I need to keep working to model this open and honest communication approach with all the people I work with, all the time, because you never know who’s watching, and what the long-term results of that consistency might eventually be.

To keep my focus and commitment to do that, I look for inspiration and encouragement anywhere I can find it. For example, today one of the people I follow on Twitter, Laurie Walters, posted this Tweet:

Great start to my Wed. RT @DennyCoates Ever been beat up by life? Thoughts on resilience. http://ow.ly/2PjX5 #challenge

The post by Denny Coates the link goes to is well worth a click-through because it focuses on how to USE the difficult things life throws at you to get back up and meet your challenges head on rather than throwing up your hands and giving in to despair or self-pity – neither of which accomplish a single useful thing!

I would also highly recommend downloading the e-book on Leadership that you can get from Denny’s site because it is powerful and inspiring information for anyone who is trying to be a successful leader.

Sometimes the smallest thing [Tweets are less than 140 characters remember!] can offer the biggest inspiration and help keep you motivated to persevere in challenging times, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

So while I may not have any of the traditional cool super-hero powers: ability to fly, ability to shoot immobilizing spider webs, or being able to deflect bullets with my jewellery [how cool would that be?!], what I DO have, thanks to the many sources of inspiration and support available, are things like strength of will, gratitude, and creativity, and most days, that’s enough to keep me moving forward toward my objectives.

Which is good, because while I could probably pull off the cape of a super-hero, there is absolutely NO WAY you’re ever going to see me running around in tights!

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