Tag Archives: communication

“Nature Abhors a Vacuum” – Fill It Before Someone Else Does

IMG_1454

Aristotle? Plato? Galileo? I didn’t find a definitive answer for to whom to properly attribute my headline quote (if it is indeed an actual “quote”), but I’m sure you’ve heard it in the context of sharing information.

Humans are no different from any other part of nature – faced with a lack of information, even just a perceived lack of information, we will work overtime to fill in the blanks ourselves. And more often than not, we fill the vacuum with exactly what you don’t want us to. And then we tell 2 friends, and they tell 2 friends (see last post)…

I generally think of myself as a reasonable person. Recently, my mom had a major, but relatively common surgery during which a complication occurred. What it meant was a much longer course of recovery was ahead than expected. As her family, and those needed to support her recovery, we wanted not only answers, but a plan. When the answers were slow to come, and the plan never really materialized, we filled in our own blanks and convinced ourselves of the worst. (Fortunately, “reports of her demise were greatly exaggerated”, and my mother is back in the saddle oversharing her wisdom on my child-rearing “skills.”)

In a perfect world, your communication cascade is expertly planned and flawlessly executed. But let’s be honest, it rarely happens the way we’d like it to. And the bigger the message, the more internal disagreement on timing. While knowing exactly when to communicate is an imperfect science, the best way to go is to say what you know when you know it. Strong leaders tell people what they know, and if they don’t have the full story, they say when they expect to know more, and they follow up. Wait too long, and the message will get out there, and more often than not, failing to be proactive will result in the need for damage control.

In professional and personal situations we have all been a part of it. When facing a vacuum of information, we seem compelled to default to fear and assume the worst. As communicators, we need to fill the void with our message before someone fills it with theirs.

Advertisements

What You Say in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas

ImageNot too long ago, what you said in a meeting, or even presented at a conference, lived for about as long as the words still hung in the air. Without a doubt, you could gain a reputation for brilliance and insight that might outlast your true brilliance and insight, or you could gain a handle as the “did she really say that?” person.  Either way, unless your brilliant, or not-so brilliant, words ended up on the nightly news or as a Harvard Business case study, very few stood a chance of defining you in perpetuity.

Today’s deeply connected and always-on world has changed what information dies and more importantly what information lives. On. And on.

In a recent article by Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group on the “Internet of Things,” Brian states, “In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on earth. By 2020, it’s expected that there will be 50 billion things connected.” If you are old enough, or watch enough YouTube, that’s a far cry from the 80’s shampoo ad reminding you, “if you tell 2 friends, they’ll tell 2 friends, and so on and so on…” Last time I checked, the ad got Faberge Organics up to 32 “likes.” Compare that to Justin Bieber, who wins the retweets average race at 32k per tweet.

It is those connected things that can do as much, if not more, than your traditional communication plan of message, audience, vehicle and timing to define who sees you and hears you.

Expect what you say to be available to anyone, at any time, and in perpetuity. As communication professionals, we need to be more intentional than ever in delivering messages that are relevant, easily understood and eminently repeatable.

What you say in Vegas, definitely does not stay in Vegas.