3 New Year Resolutions for Committed Communicators

January 1, 2018

If you’re interested in VoicePrint, you’re likely to be someone who not only wants to be a good communicator personally, but also shares our ambition to see improved communication on a much wider scale, between individuals, within organisations and across societies.

On the VoicePrint blog we will continue to publish pieces designed to support and enable improved communication and interaction at all levels. There will be more case studies, more illustrations of ‘voices at work’ in particular roles and contexts, more features with practical guidance on how to develop specific voices for particular responsibilities, occasions and purposes.

But the world goes into its new calendar year at a time when authentic, principled and genuinely useful communication seems in many ways to be under pressure and in real danger. So in 2018 the VoicePrint blog is going to make three highly relevant issues the focus of special and sustained attention.

1. The ‘Finding their Voices’ thread will pose the question, how can young people be helped to develop the full range of communication skills that they will need in the modern world? It’s an important topic for a number of reasons.

We know from various sources, employee attitude surveys as well as academic investigations, that there are significant differences in communication style, practice and expectations between generations. We know from our own research with VoicePrint that younger people (the under-30s) have a tendency to under-use certain voices, and so often have potentially significant gaps in the repertoire required to be fully effective communicators.  We know that effective communications and interactions require both awareness of the full range of different voices and also active self-management in the development and application of that awareness. We know that these are capabilities that are not given, but have to be learned.

2. Our second theme is Gender Equity. This is not to suggest that this is the only sphere in which unfair discrimination needs to be tackled or equality of opportunity needs to be promoted. But there is already an abundance of evidence to show that, at a gender level and in some significant ways, women and men tend to communicate differently and that the same behaviours or forms of expressions tend to be interpreted differently, when they come from women rather than men and vice versa. The effect is to shape, allow or impede opportunities for men and women differently.

‘Gender Equity has a Speech Impediment’ will probe in depth the forms that these subtle social constraints can take in contemporary communications practices; more importantly, it will explore what can be done in practice to enable our communications and interactions to benefit most fully from the unimpeded resourcefulness of women and men alike.

3. Our third theme is ‘No More UMs.’ UMs are not hesitations or trivial mannerisms in the use of the spoken word, but are the much more serious problem of unproductive meetings. We don’t need research to know that this problem exists. We’ve all experienced unproductive meetings, and as the old year turns into the new, there is no evidence that we have left them behind. They are a perennial problem and will remain a drain on our energy, effectiveness and productivity for as long as we continue to tolerate them.

Unproductive meetings are an entirely solvable problem. It’s not as if we don’t recognise an unproductive meeting when we experience it. What is needed is the resolve to do something about it, some clarity about which voices to use when, and some practical steps for turning these principles into practice. This is exactly what VoicePrint is designed to deliver.

So the VoicePrint blog has three New Year Resolutions, and we invite anyone who is in any way serious about improving the quality and impact of communications to join us in pursuing these goals through 2018 and beyond.

  1. To help younger people in Finding Their Voices.
  2. To recognise and overcome Gender Equity’s Speech Impediment.
  3. To commit to No More Unproductive Meetings.

Better communications, like so many other forms of improvement and development, are built one conversation at a time. We hope you will be adding your voice to these important, life-changing conversations.

You can add your voice to the conversation in many ways, including:-

  • by becoming an accredited practitioner yourself and using VoicePrint in your own professional work;
  • by coaching or mentoring young people in developing their voices;
  • by coaching or facilitating people to talk, listen and act without gender bias;
  • by challenging unproductive conversations ‘in the moment’ and re-focusing them into more productive patterns;
  • by sharing your own know-how and experience through becoming a guest contributor to the VoicePrint blog.

Alan Robertson
Alan Robertson VoicePrint

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