Communication is at the heart of your business and every relationship you build. With book titles focused on the best ways to engage including, Decency Starts at the Top, by CEO and Chairman, Larry Weber of Racepoint Global and articles focusing on “Workplace Compassion: A Trend Driven by the Changing Workforce” your authenticity, integrity and empathy become front and center at every touchpoint.
Modern communicators have a responsibility to use communication as a way to build bridges between people and groups; sharing communication to help, uplift and ignite passion and positive momentum. It’s a do “good” and do “no harm” approach. But, with a noisy communication landscape, does communication from businesses professionals, who speak on behalf of their organizations, reach the public in a “do good” manner; in a way that instills trust, expresses kindness, and creates opportunities to build relationships?
You may come in contact with leaders and business professionals every day. They are your own company executives or the senior executives who speak out on behalf of your favorite brands and social causes. Or, maybe they are the political leaders in your newsfeeds on social media. Regardless of the type of leader, do you think the communication they share is reaching, resonating and helping people, especially when it comes to younger generations? With Millennials and Generation Z experiencing more depression and anxiety at alarming rates, are leaders today meeting the communication expectations of these groups, or any group they want to reach?
Now, it’s time to reign in the communication for some self-reflection. Ask yourself an important question. Do you really know what someone else is experiencing before you tweet, blog or post on Facebook? Are you using social media to get closer with people to build your own personal brand? The data you collect and analyze on social media is based on what people want to share with you, and how they want to be seen. Of course, there’s a highlight reel on social media. What you see on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any platform does not always give you a clear picture of someone’s life, what is going on in their world or how they are truly feeling.
FEEL is the optimal word here and what others are feeling. Your communication can either help them, or it can quickly becomes a part of the “noise” that blocks the value, which affects the end goal of any interaction.
Whether it is you, or the leaders you know, there’s a better way to approach communications when the noise is overwhelming … it’s to FEEL first. If you don’t FEEL as a first step, which means to Face Fears, connect with Empathy, use Ethics and unleash the Love of your mission, then all of your planning may fall on deaf ears. Once you can FEEL, the strategy that you’ve developed will play out not only to connect you, but also to help you engage in a way that is valued and seen as more human and open, creating those longer lasting bonds.
After a devastating family tragedy last September, I embarked on a research journey. I started to speak with Millennials about communication preferences and began analyzing Women Worldwide interviews with guests focused on leadership and communication (using text analytics). My goal was to see if what Millennials preferred in their communication from leaders is what they were experiencing on social media. Were the characteristics they preferred drawing them closer to their leaders or pushing them farther away?
Then, when I teamed up with Talkwalker to use their search tool, the themes identified around leaders, communication and emotions and different communication qualities really came to the surface. The lightbulb went on! Seeing the results (in word cloud format) based on a sophisticated Boolean search (yes, Talkwalker helped me here) it appeared that the IQ side of leadership stood out more in conversations. With more than 50% positive sentiment, about 47% neutral and only 3% negative, words such as “knowledge,” “experience,” “confidence,” “strength,” “professional” were the most prominent in discussions about leaders and communication, across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
But what about the Emotional Quotient (EQ) side of the house? I was surprised that words such as “interpersonal,” “respect”, “feel,” “values,” “real,” and “commitment” took a back seat. What does this say about leaders and communication on social media, when the EQ or the soft skills were much less in the spotlight? You can take a look at a couple of graphics showing the text analytics to see for yourself.
Keeping the initial research in mind, I’ve taken the first stab at a communication model that may help to close the gap between what Millennials and Gen Z want and the type of communication that’s lighting up social media and may not really be resonating with them. The components of the FEEL First model are as follows:
• An audit process to get unstuck, which is the first step in understanding how you’ve been communicating in the past. This is usually a Fix it to Move Forward approach.
• Finding the Passion Potential with any group, to make sure that what you believe is relevant to share will actually resonate and have the potential for further engagement with them.
• Take the FEEL Test to help you engage more authentically with any audience [there are four parts focused on each piece of the FEEL acronym]
• Address your FEEL weaknesses after scoring your test.
• Apply the FEEL approach to social media, company team meetings, speaking engagements, and your media interviews.
• Measure the FEEL model to see that you’re moving toward genuine communication and relationships that encourage fresh ideas, empathy for all parties, use good judgment in all interactions and unleash a passion that becomes the DNA or the fabric of your relationships.
I’ll be building out the model in much more detail in the weeks ahead with exercises and different ways to advance your steps with the FEEL First Approach. All ideas and suggestions are welcomed!