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I’ve been media training executives for years. The training and exercises were focused on verbal communication and sharing the company’s messaging correctly. These thought leaders were tested in several media situations to see if they could answer questions accurately and in a way that always bridged back to the “talking points.” At the same time, they practiced non-verbal communication; what their bodies were saying as they shared these critical messages. Do the same media training techniques work today in a heated and highly emotional media landscape?
A Different Approach to Media Training
Let’s look at a different approach, one that goes beyond what you expect in media training. What you expect is only part of the equation when dealing with a passionate public and a polarized landscape, from the journalists who share the “news” stories to the audiences who watch, sometimes in awe or other times, in utter shock.
There’s far too much going on in the news not to be human and to react. Daily, you witness what’s happening, from the coronavirus pandemic, the economic concerns and the reopening of business to the racial injustice, protests across the country, and the lack of civil discourse in politics in an election year. The news cycle is fast and furious, and emotions are running high. So what’s the other part of the equation? It’s to take an emotionally intelligent approach to your media conversations and to show up to your interviews and appearances with your EI hat on and your willingness to navigate increasingly tough topics.
Emotional Intelligence and Executive Interviews
Why is emotional intelligence valuable wherever an executive shows up? If you don’t have a good handle on your own emotions, you will not manage others’ feelings. The rule applies to any of your stakeholders and important constituents. The media needs your emotional intelligence too. Building a relationship with journalists and their communities means being a trusted and reliable resource. However, this also translates into showing up to interviews with more than just talking points. You have to be emotionally ready to navigate difficult topics today and how they affect your business (even when you think it’s a “softball” interview).
I could steer you to any number of YouTube videos of interviews with cable news hosts and their guests that have “gone bad” and the tweets and Facebook posts that go viral as a result. However, let’s not focus on the negative. Now, there’s an approach to listen, learn, understand, and to do better in your interviews.
You have to take a FEEL approach to your media interviews. If you’ve been following me, then you know that FEEL stands for face your Fears, engage with Empathy, live with Ethics, and unleash your Love. Your talking points and messaging are still relevant, and so is your body language. However, it’s also your job to tune in and learn how others are showing up and to uncover what they are feeling.
What’s their real agenda? The first step to finding out is to quiet your mind and to be fully present. You may be thinking, “If I’m prepared to answer questions, and I’m really good with my own body language then why does it matter?” When your mind is clear, and you’re open and understanding about what’s going on with your journalist, the media outlet, and the audience, you’re moving from one-time interview to more frequent opportunities and go-to-media expert.
Three Top Reasons to Take a Mindful Approach
If there is any doubt about bringing emotional intelligence to your interviews, here are three top reasons to incorporate a new mindful approach:
- When you quiet the chatter, you’re on your toes, fully present, and much more likely to share a thoughtful answer than the quick, pressured response you may regret later.
- When your mind is clear, you’re also able to open your frame of reference. Taking the chip off your shoulder and checking your ego at the door helps you step back when you hear something that would typically cause you to have a knee-jerk reaction. Having a clear mind allows you to stop the constant knee-jerking. Instead, you’ll ask a question, which allows a conversation to progress more comfortably.
- When you’re fully present and open to hearing different perspectives, you’re also actively listening, which is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Of course, you’ll have more concise and helpful answers when you’re tuned in and listening. You’ll also be able to mirror back information that helps people feel validated about what they’re sharing, even if you’re not in 100% agreement with their views.
If you’re interested in trying a different approach to media, then there’s a FEEL Roadmap with exercises to help you to FEEL First, a new way to prep for your interviews. Completing the activities on the roadmap will prepare you to not only deliver your talking points but also to show up with more than just your messaging. Now, you’ll be EI ready for any interview.
You can download the FEEL Roadmap here.
As more news and information is shared about the Coronavirus pandemic, the public is bombarded with messages and the volume of noise increases. Yes, these are uncertain times and communication can either help or it can be confusing. You have to choose wisely how you communicate and interact with the people and the communities around you.
At the same time, the way you’ve operated and shared information in the past, whether it was a month ago or even last week, will be different than how you’ll approach your communications today. In the spirit of helping, giving and FEELing for others, I’ve decided to do something a little different myself.
I’m launching what I call a “555” Series to offer complimentary FEEL consulting to 5 businesses, uplift 5 giving professionals by sharing their resources and provide 5 tips for communicating during times that require leadership focused on Emotional Intelligence (EI). I’ve mentioned in my video that the first 5 businesses or professionals who contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), will receive a complimentary consulting session to assess how much they FEEL First in their communication with important constituents.
You can check out my video for the full 555 on helping businesses, amplifying the voices of colleagues with giving resources and to learn some simple tips to communicate wearing your EI hat.
We are in uncertain times. Your customers, employees, partners, the media and other important constituents are looking to you for helpful information. Unfortunately, a lot of the communication shared in uncertain times ends up confusing and frustrating these groups even more.
As we witness the stock market lows, travel bans, event cancellations and more businesses asking employees to work from home, here are three tips to help guide your communication.
Tip #1: Stick with what you know — be direct and don’t share hunches and guestimates.
Tip #2: Show up with your Emotional Intelligence (EI) so you can respond thoughtfully and not react to challenging communication.
Tip #3: Appreciate the feedback you receive — it’s a gift — even the negative feedback helps you to learn and grow.
Here’s my video discussing these tips in more detail and how they can help you.
It’s time to FEEL First in your communication. I’ve been working on my passion project, the FEEL Model, gathering research about the type of communication that builds relationships and creates stronger bonds. In uncertain times, FEEL (facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, Using Ethics and unleashing Love) can make a difference. As the Coronavirus spreads and new cases are reported in the U.S. and globally, effective, meaningful and valuable communication requires a FEEL First approach.
Check out the tips and please share yours too. Together, we can lead with compassion and understanding, and offer helpful and accurate information to the people who matter the most to us professionally and personally in our lives.
Happy 2020, friends! Here’s to a year that’s filled with happiness, good health, and prosperity.
When I look back at 2019, I realize it was an intense year for so many reasons. Every week was one of reflection and new insights with a 52+ week millennial research project.
Today, as a result of this reflection and realizing my research had uncovered a new Mode of Operation or communication model, I’m focusing on a FEEL roadmap in 2020; adding FEEL to all of my communications. At the same time, I’ll be helping other professionals understand why strategic communications can only get you so far in your connections and relationship building. FEEL is the stepping stone to real relationships personally and professionally. How much do you use FEEL in your communication through all of your channels? Now you can find out with the FEEL First Test.
I decided to evaluate myself and my ability to FEEL, by taking the online FEEL First test, which came together as a result of the deep conversations with millennials in 2019.
I was surprised, not so surprised, to learn that I still have some FEEL work to do in the areas of facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, etc. In 2020, I’m on my way to FEEL Mastery, which is the highest range of scores you can achieve. The FEEL First Test not only evaluates your ability to FEEL, in every area of the model, and in different settings, but it also recommends exercises to increase your level of FEEL.
And, so my roadmap begins and yours can too.
A huge thank you to all of those millennials who took the time to interview with me, and who wanted to share the value of communication, what it means to have trust in a real relationship and what they expect from the important people in their lives. You have helped me to get through a difficult time and to turn loss and sadness into purpose and focus.
Here’s my video discussing where my roadmap begins and how professionals and companies would solve a lot of their issues and communication challenges with the FEEL model.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Amit Jain at Unsplash
Every relationship is different and precious in its own way. You work so hard to build relationships and when you make that special connection you don’t want to lose it!
Knowing this, how much do you nurture your relationships and how present are you in those interactions? When you want to build an unbreakable bond you have to show up and be vulnerable, transparent, honest, and compassionate, and with all of your passion in tow. That’s why it’s important to FEEL (face Fears, engage with Empathy, use Ethics and unleash the Love) with every encounter.
There are so many reasons why you should FEEL First when it comes to building and maintaining the health of your relationships. When you FEEL, you’ll be more present and open, your understanding and patience will increase, and you’ll be true to yourself and your values (which does not go unnoticed). You’ll also let your passion loose for others to get excited and for them to find synergies with you.
My FEEL First research and the accompanying model [Note: this is the 2nd iteration of the Infographic] came to life after the tragic loss of a loved one, my stepdaughter. I had to say goodbye to a cherished relationship. For me, relationships will always take center stage. I’m focused on the FEEL First approach to hold dear every relationship I have moving forward.
How much do you FEEL in the relationships you are forging? And, once you’re in a relationship are you still in FEEL mode? Here’s my video with more on FEEL First and how to take this approach to a new level.
Social media continues to capture time and attention. Here are some of the stats revealing how much people participate in social media; where they spend their time; what they like to do and how often.
- There are approximately 6,000 tweets shared every second on Twitter. If you were to break the numbers down, there would be about 350,000 tweets sent per minute and approximately 500 million tweets per day. Can you imagine? That’s about 200 billion tweets per year, according to Internet Live Stats.
- In November of 2018, the Hootsuite Blog stated that over 200 million people participated in Facebook Groups and there were about 150 million people who took advantage of Facebook Stories.
- In August of 2018, 99 Firms reported that Instagram supports approximately 100 million images and videos each day.
- According to MerchDope, in June of 2019, there were approximately 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
The social media numbers continue to grow. At the same time, people are still watching network and cable television, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. They’re listening to the radio and tuning into podcasts. They’re also reading online publications, blogs and curating stories through news apps.
With all of the media available at your fingertips, if you wanted to get the attention of your customers and constituents, how would you show up and what would you share?
Let’s take a closer look at Millennials. They’re a growing population capturing approximately 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. With tremendous purchasing power, they are highly sought as a group when it comes to attracting and keeping their social media attention. But, what does this take?
I’ve been speaking with Millennials for the last six months, conducting one-on-one interviews as a part of my FEEL First before you communicate, Millennial passion project. Here’s what Millennial respondents told me about how business professionals and their “Leaders*” should communicate to get their attention.
- Take a stand on the issue; if there’s something happening in the world or a particular country, let me know how you feel.
- Advocate for something and show me you think beyond canned messages.
- Have more passion for the cause; leaders should always have a voice and right now it doesn’t feel authentic or connected.
- Watch out for the negative and outrageous; it gets more attention but it’s not positive or helpful.
- Understand me and my realm; be relatable to my world and what I experience on a daily basis.
- Give your unique take on something; whether you’re my supervisors or a public figure from one of the brands I like.
- Use images that evoke memories and emotions and that show they understand who I am; through this understanding, you can present powerful words and photos.
- Share personal community stories; go into the communities and get to know the social activists and well-known people who can create change.
- Listen first … really listen; it’s hard to determine if leaders actually listen because retweeting is a form of listening but it appears everyone is just trying to get their content out and this is noise.
- Communicate without remorse, and with a lot of bias and without supporting evidence; you’ll get attention but not my approval or loyalty.
- Harness a particular social media platform whether you’re strong at Instagram, Twitter or Facebook Live.
- Move to action related to your mission, so it’s not just the words on social media.
- Take the unpopular belief that’s relevant; sticky popular messages are not held by the majority of the people.
- Show empathy and be vulnerable; if I see someone sharing struggles or tough points in their career this gets my attention.
- Share videos with subtitles, which can be powerful and long posts have meaning too.
- Give the behind the scenes and things I would not see anywhere else.
- Try humor, which gets my attention, especially if you’re not someone who is necessarily humorous.
- Use a writing style that’s personal or journal-style writing.
- Catch my attention by using colors and imagery that’s fun; it gives me a feeling of happiness.
- Do an interview, on a media outlet that’s informative or interesting, such as Bloomberg and CNBC.
- Respond to people; no one ever expects the CEO of T-Mobile to respond.
What are you doing to capture and retain attention with the people that mean the most to you?
*The term “Leaders” was defined in the one-on-one interviews as professionals at the respondents’ companies, business professionals speaking on behalf of the companies and the brands they follow or care about, or their political and religious leaders.
My FEEL First research journey continues. I’m speaking with Millennials every week to learn what they expect from leaders, including their interactions with business executives from their companies or the brands that interest them to government officials online and at different communications touch points. The communication model I’m building is based on these informal one-on-one interviews, social media searches using the Talkwalker Quick Search platform, as well as 30 years in communications and relationship-building best practices.
Although I have a few favorite research questions, there was one that yielded powerful results. I asked Millennials to fill in the blank for the following statement, “I don’t like leaders who…” They were told they could answer in a few words or a sentence. What I ended up with was much more than I had imagined. Millennials had a lot to say about leaders they don’t like.
As a matter of fact, they elaborated far more on this question than any other. Why? Is it because their leaders are coming across as leaders who don’t meet their expectation? Or, is it because they’re seeing communication that lacks an open perspective or appears self-serving and disingenuous, especially on social media? I see it everyday … there’s very little listening with a low tolerance for opposing or differing opinions, not to mention communication that is self-absorbed and isn’t transparent. Do you see this too?
The Millennials I’ve interviewed are clear, and they know exactly what they don’t like about leaders today. Take a look at some of the partial responses to the statement, “I don’t like leaders who …”
- Don’t follow anyone on social media, and they don’t post anything other than policies and products.
- Have a bad attitude and their tone is passive aggressive.
- Blow up your feed and you still don’t get the answers you need.
- Don’t have integrity and are full of hot air.
- Communicate through multiple persons and a complicated chain of command.
- Don’t know how to lead; they were just put into a leadership position and have no leadership skills.
- Ignore the criticism you share; Millennials want their voices to be heard.
- Talk more than they listen.
- Are egotistical and self-centered.
- Are unwilling to learn and who have a finite agenda in their communication.
Strategy and planning have always been the focus of my work in PR and marketing. I’ve created countless communication roadmaps for brands and professionals, to successfully prepare, launch and implement their campaigns with a goal to build relationships and to create business value.
Today, my research uncovers an approach that must be applied first. Based on Millennial responses to my questions over the last six months and numerous social media searches, leaders and business professionals must FEEL First before they communicate. FEEL stands for: Facing Fears, engaging with Empathy, using Ethics and good judgment and unleashing the Love of their mission to genuinely connect and to build loyal and unbreakable bonds.
What is the genesis of my passion project? It all began after my step daughter Noelle passed away. She was only 24 years old and she was an outstanding scholar and an amazing young woman with a giving heart and someone who would have done great things in this world. Noelle’s passing was heartbreaking and it really threw my family’s world upside down. I started to research Millennials and their communication habits. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Millennials value themselves based on their performance and image. I also quickly uncovered that Millennials were more stressed out and anxious than years past. Anxiety and depression statistics are at alarming levels and so are suicide rates. Did you know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in Americans from ages 10 to 34?
From everything I’ve learned, it was time for me to step back to take a good look at the communication differences between generations; how people interact, the level of integrity, authenticity and the empathy in their relations. Are increasing communication touchpoints and a technology-driven world fueling stress and anxiety? Plus, when we communicate, how much do we really know about the people that we work so hard to build relationships with? As a communicator of 30 years, I want to make sure that any workshops, training, speaking and the courses I develop will always stress helpful, ethical, communication with EQ in the driver’s seat.
So what does all of this have to do with the development of the new communications model, FEEL First? Everything! Communication can make a situation better; it’s an opportunity to put on your emotional intelligence hat so you can listen and help people; an important first step to lending genuine support. When there’s good communication there’s more understanding and empathy; kindness and caring are also present. Most of all good communication is a time for openness and transparency and even vulnerability. Brené Brown, who is a researcher and storyteller, nailed this in her TED Talk. When you’re vulnerable you can build a real relationship. Plus, with good communication that exudes passion and pure enthusiasm you will attract inspired and motivated supporters.
However, today, we’re seeing far less good communication. Think about it. As you spend more time on your smartphones and engage in new technologies, are you noticing increased noise, frustration, and anger, whether it’s on social media, in the news, and within the four walls of your companies?
Of course, leaders have to be strong, take a stance, show confidence, be innovative and have a clear vision that people will follow. This must come through in all of their interactions. But, if you can’t balance your strength and IQ, with greater levels of Emotional Quotient (EQ) then your ability to build relationships, bond with your tribe and create blind loyalty will be limited.
In an age of automation and Artificial Intelligence, it’s your emotional intelligence that separates you from the machine. Machines don’t have intuition, they don’t experience kindness and caring, they don’t know empathy and they don’t build relationships. Millennials are not shy about wanting their leaders to have more emotional intelligence. Here’s a FEEL First research blog post on this very topic.
What’s my advice to leaders about their communication, based on how Millennials finished the statement, “I don’t like leaders who?“ In a nutshell, you have to FEEL First!