Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Two Essential Components For Effective Communication

I was speaking to a colleague today about effective communication and after the meeting, two interesting items crossed my desk.

The first was this cute story from a friend of mine.

A wife asks her husband, "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk and if they have avocados, get 6."

A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk.

The wife asks him, "Why did you buy 6 cartons of milk?"

He replied, "Because they had avocados."

The second item was this sound bite from a talk show hosted by Randy Simms on VOCM Radio in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Having had my own experiences with Mr. Simms, I have seen firsthand how people like him are unable to calmly and intelligently discuss topics with facts, knowledge and persuasiveness, often preferring to fall back on insults and intimidation when their weak debating skills fail them.  Such communication style appears to be the only thing they know when it comes to changing people’s opinions. 

Listen to how Mr. Simms dealt today with the sensitive subject of First Nation’s people wanting to hunt caribou that have been protected by legislation.  Warning: Very harsh language that may actually be a violation of Canadian broadcasting rules is present in this recording.

While I don’t agree with any exemptions when it comes to protected animals, I would definitely use a different tact to persuade people to change their mind than Mr. Simms’ ignorant bully tactics.  The funny thing about bullies is that while they can dish it out, they can rarely take it and often take offense quickly when the same tactics are used against them.

But alas I digress.

These tidbits today struck me as providing two essential lessons on effective communication.

Lesson 1

Be specific when asking for something and leave no room for interpretation.

Lesson 2

If trying to convince someone to see your point of view, calm dialog that attempts to persuade through the use of information, knowledge and seeing the other point of view is far more effective than trying to intimidate someone into compliance or submission.

How effective is your communication?

Are you sure?

Because if you’re not, you may end up with 6 gallons of milk, no avocados and someone screaming in your face that it’s your fault because “you are an arsehole”, to quote a colorful metaphor as so tactlessly and ignorantly used by Mr. Simms today.

In service and servanthood,


Addendum – January 30, 2013

Mr. Simms offered an apology to his listeners this morning which can be heard here. I would congratulate him on such an apology except for the fact that he has slammed people disrespectfully many times in the past and in his apology he admits that he will do it again in the future.  An apology that comes merely to protect one’s job or to avoid the possibility of regulatory action is weak at best and is an empty action.  While Mr. Simms and I agree that hunting protected animals is wrong (no exceptions), we clearly have two different ways of trying to convince people to consider our point of view.

Was yesterday’s event a result of overconfidence, an attempt to garner better ratings, big-fish-in-a-little-pond syndrome or just over exuberance as he claims?  The reason doesn’t matter to the person on the receiving end, something we must always be cognizant of in our interactions with others.  I wonder what the previous reasons were … or what the reason (excuse) will be for the next inevitable event.

Addendum – February 6, 2013

At some point after my addendum from January 30 was posted, VOCM removed the content of the apology from their website, possibly because legal action is being considered against the station.  The link in the other addendum works but doesn’t contain the recorded apology anymore. The Google cache, however, had the original apology for a while until the webmaster at VOCM ingeniously changed the original webpage date to December 30 of 1899, causing the Google caching mechanism to get confused and lose the archived version. People who choose to hide truth or embarrassment can be creative indeed! It makes one wonder how genuine the apology was when it wasn’t worthy of being left online!

Addendum – March 1, 2013

Mr. Simms has announced his resignation from radio broadcasting.  He had a long, passionate and illustrious career in broadcasting.  It was unfortunate that it ended with this blemish at the end of it.

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