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Communication Lessons from the 2016 Election

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I believe we can all agree that communication was a key driver in this election. As a business owner, I am consistently looking for ways to be a better communicator – better at informing potential clients about who I am and what I do. Pondering this election has caused me to carefully consider my business communications. There are lessons in this election we can use to increase our outreach, draw clients to our products or services, and avoid costly mistakes that can hurt our reputation.
I was reminded in this election that our words matter. Words can be used like daggers and strike the heart of people. We must be careful with our words, especially on social media. This was important in the election and is important in business – be a respectful communicator and take social media seriously.

Consider Words Carefully

Emotions ran high in this election as they sometimes do in business. An impulsive comment may not intend to hurt but can cause people great pain. We will not be in business long if we turn-off potential clients with hurtful communications; we need to be sensitive to the diverse and multi-cultural communities that represent our country.

It is hard to hear a good idea if you cannot get past a negative stereotype or a mean-spirited comment. As business owners, we need to discuss ideas and consider best practices and not attack people.

I have profited from listening to people who do not look or think like me. Engaging with people I respect in business has increased my understanding of issues and has made me a better decision-maker.

I think we need to remember that debates do not have to change minds but should raise issues and allow us to contemplate another point of view. We should respect the ideas and opinions of others and keep our tone civil and our discussion based on issues.

Take Social Media Seriously

Along with communication, the election made me think differently about social media. I think we can do a lot of harm to ourselves, our business and our brand if we don’t take social media seriously and use it strategically. Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms are great tools for business but if not used carefully, can get you and your organization in a lot of trouble. Reputations can be ruined by an emotional tweet or a rant on Facebook.

This election was also filled with email leaks that caused embarrassment. As business owners we need to ensure that everything published on social media is respectful. You never know when something may go viral or something you posted five years ago comes to light when you are up for a new job or thinking about a political position.

Social media is fun and I love it. You get to interact with many people from all over the world. For business, it is an essential tool and I can think of no better way to have access to people and tell them about a product or service. This does not mean you won’t get burned if you do not use social media responsibly. I have implemented these three rules:

  • Never post anything to social media in anger
  • Never send an email to anyone that cannot be seen by everyone
  • Never use social media to attack people – debate ideas with respect, never make it personal

Final Thoughts

I strongly believe that in business we cannot afford to do the things that were done during this election. We need to communicate in a way that is engaging and respectful and we need to take social media seriously and use it responsibly.

Debate is a good thing; I enjoy it and have learned a lot from talking to people with strong ideas and opinions. I haven’t always agreed with them but having the debate made me think about ways I can change business methods and practices. As business owners, we cannot afford to take social media lightly. Be strategic and purposeful with everything you do on any social media platform. Things live a long time on social media so learn from this election that your words have power and social media should be used respectfully.