Posted by: Kristen Ridley | August 18, 2013

A communicator’s gifts

people postI talk a lot on this blog about how much I love being a communicator. There are a number of reasons for that, and this morning, I was reminded of another couple of them.

My dear friend Cindy Crescenzo, who’s also a communicator, posted a link to an article on Facebook. The article was about the upcoming closing of a local restaurant in her neighbourhood, which has been a beloved icon there for many years.

While the article, [which you can read here], was sad, it was also touching, and inspiring. And after I finished wiping my eyes when I finished reading it, I realized that the writer of that article received two really special gifts from that assignment, gifts that I, too, receive on a daily basis because of the nature of my job:

People

Communicators have to talk to people in order to do our jobs. Everything we write about involves people somewhere in the mix. And, frequently, we have to talk to many people to get the full story and understand whatever we need to communicate. So communicators have the unique opportunity to talk in-depth and one-on-one with lots of different people, in different roles/department/organizations, on a regular basis. If you think about it, most people don’t have that opportunity. Oh sure, you say “good morning” and “thank you” to the person who serves you your coffee, or the grocery check-out person, etc. So sure, everybody talks to people everyday, but how often do people get to *TALK* to people? I mean REALLY talk to someone and get a sense of who they are, and I mean people outside of the people who are a personal part of your own life?! Not that often, I think.

But because of the job I do, I frequently need to talk to people I haven’t met before, and usually know nothing about, and I need to make them feel comfortable enough with me – because they don’t know ME either! – to talk to me about something they know and I don’t. Even in a business setting when you are talking about business projects [which is the kind of communicator role I am in] the way to get the best information is to create a connection and a relationship with the person you are talking to. And the way to create a connection, I think, is to be genuinely interested in the person you’re talking to, not just the topic you need information about from that person.

I don’t think you can be a really successful communication person if you don’t genuinely LIKE people. Because people are complicated. They have frustrations, disappointments, irritations, confusions, and all kinds of other stuff going on that sometimes makes people a challenge to work with. But I’ve always found that if you genuinely like people, and can be understanding about all that “stuff” that makes them complex, you can work around it, and still connect on a human being level to all the people you talk to. I have found that if I am interacting with someone, anyone, with that genuine level of understanding, compassion and respect, they respond in kind, even if things started out on a difficult note. I almost always come away from the interactions I have with people for my work feeling good about how I connected with them, and in the world we live today, where so much of how we interact with others involves machines instead of faces, my job allowing me to really talk to people is a gift I’m extremely grateful for!

Words can touch people . .  . profoundly!

The other reminder from the article my friend Cindy posted, is that words are important, in spite of how many of them we all see on a daily basis. If they are the right words, written in just the right way, and with the right kind of heart and feeling behind them, they can make others feel too, just like the article about the closing of that restaurant – which I’ve never even been to – made me cry with sadness about its loss.

I don’t know, maybe I’m alone in this, but to me the ability to create a powerful emotion in another person with the words I write, that’s special, and I am grateful on an almost hourly basis that I have not only the ability to write in a way that makes people FEEL [at least, I like to flatter myself that I write in such a way], but that I’ve been lucky enough to find companies who are willing to pay me to do exactly that.

I understand that we have morphed into a world where “lol”, “LMAO” “TTYL” and other chat acronyms have become ubiquitous parts of our language, and I tolerate them because I’m a realist. But I truly believe that the power of real words, words with heart and passion and belief behind them is never going to go completely away. So again, I am so thrilled that I get to do something for a living that lets me write things that will – hopefully – make people feel as well as understand, and care as well as know.

All that from a single newspaper article on a local restaurant closing. Pretty cool, huh? Thanks, Cindy for the inspiration!

I hope your work inspires you too. I’d love to hear what you love about your communicator job, if you feel like sharing in the comments.

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