Monthly Archives: July 2016

Melania Trump’s Communication Embarrassment

imgresI am not a fan of Donald Trump and know nothing about his wife, Melania, except that she gave an impressive speech at the Republican National Convention. The next morning, I was saddened to learn she had become embroiled in a plagiarism controversy for allegedly lifting some lines from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention eight years earlier.

But that’s the way it is with communication. It can be a treacherous discipline, especially when you’re in the high stakes throes of a presidential campaign. I was, thereby, particularly taken with the explanation that was provided by Meredith McIver, a Trump staff writer, for the lines in Melania’s speech. (Ms. McIver, incidentally, was once a ballet dancer under George Balanchine.)

Indeed the lines were from Michelle Obama’s convention speech in 2008. But they weren’t lifted from it in a predatory manner. Quite the contrary. When Melania Trump was working with Ms. McIver on her own speech, she read some of the lines she admired in Ms. Obama’s speech over the phone to Ms. McIver as examples of the sentiments she wanted to convey in her own message

“I wrote them down,” Ms. McIver explained when the plagiarism furor erupted, “and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This was my mistake…”

Truly, it was, and an oversight that’s now been compounded in the current presidential season.   Ms. McIver,  who has co-authored several books with Donald Trump, offered to resign but Trump rejected that option, telling Ms. McIver  that “people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences.”

Wow! A primetime political embarrassment provided evidence that Donald Trump can be gracious and fair, and isn’t entirely the boor he so often appears to be.  We can be thankful for such a revelation – on with the campaign in a somewhat cheerier context!

(Photo PBS.org)

Communication Shelf©

Group Communication: Continually Challengingtelephone-450831_640-300x300.jpg-300x300Effective communication in a group setting requires other-directed thinking by both the group leader and its members. What’s that mean? Well, leaders being aware of how their words and actions are likely being received, and by a group’s members providing continuing feedback. Neither are particularly easy disciplines to apply and retain. Attentiveness varies depending on situations and stresses.

A leader may go into a situation thinking, “I want to create a community here,” and then be diverted from that worthy aim by a puzzling response. What’s needed is continuing awareness by both the leader and the group of how well they’re functioning and to change course as advisable. Pick up the phone, or stop one another in the hallway. Good communication doesn’t simply happen. Value listening and respond accordingly. 


A Manager’s Needs

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Good organizational communication, says Andre Lavoie on Entrepreneur, requires effective executive leadership, and that’s not always easy to foster or find.  “…One of the biggest issues in workplaces today continues to be engagement. A July 2016 Gallup survey found that nearly 32 percent of the 1,500 employees surveyed said they felt engaged in their work, a mere 4 percent increase since a previous survey in December 2013.”

What to do? “Clearly, then, companies should focus on how they select their managers, because they apparently tend to choose the wrong person 80 percent of the time, according to Gallup. But, what makes a good manager? Effective managers focus on their employees’ strengths, and when they do that, engagement shoots up to 67 percent.

It all has to do, Lavoie adds, with finding the best sources of talent, aligning candidates with goals and testing for a candidate’s skills.


Possibilities Expressed In a Chart(s)

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Eric Douglas on Business 2 Community starts getting specific on communication styles that are expressed in both positive and negative ways. We already realize that one mode definitely doesn’t fit all, right?

Each of the four styles listed – Director, Expresser, Thinker and Harmonizer – has both positive and negative attributes/possibilities.   Douglas presents them in conjunction with a

Circle of Assumptions that, again, illustrates the continuing challenge of organizational communication. It needs to be pursued carefully, diligently and in a tolerant, understanding manner.

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Finally (For Now), Be ‘Brief’

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There’s a slender book by Joseph McCormack entitled, simply, Brief, as in “be brief”.  That’s usually a desirable aim in a world increasingly flooded by information. But along with input should come understanding, and promoting the latter – our ultimate aim – may well take longer in some instances or settings than others. By no means does community occur automatically, even if your determined to promote it. Determination isn’t always coupled with patience, and  good communication requires both.

But definitely, check out McCormack’s book.  You can get two free chapters by providing your name and email address (if you care to) here. We’re flooded with information these days, and McCormack evidently is motivated to help with that. His subtitle is “Make a bigger impact by saying less.”


Communication Shelf ©

Connecting Across the Generationstrainer-preparing-lesson-1492421

Michigan State University has been posting a series on “Communication across generations,” and it’s well worth heeding, for all four generations involved – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millenials. (Their birth periods extend from 1900 through 1994.)

In communication terms, we get shaped heavily by seismic events like depression, war and protests. But, individually, we can – and should seek to  – rise above such tribulations, so as to connect heartily and constructively with as many people as possible. That can be done by being ever mindful of the importance of listening and of showing empathy.


Gearing Up for Davos Communication, 2017

Davos SnowThe WCF Committee is preparing for the eighth edition next year of  the annual World Communications Forum at the conference center in Davos, Switzerland. “For seven years,” says Yanina Dubeykovskaya, member of the Committee in her capacity as WCFDavos Founder & Content Director as well as President of the WCFA association , ”we have been able to involve representatives of about 60 countries and transform the event into the most influential and most appreciated diversity-of-expertise platform in the world.“

The world surely needs a crystalline approach to communication and mutual understanding, whether it be snow-capped or not. The WCF program board is preparing the agenda, we trust with clarity about advancing interpersonal communication, rather than furthering bureaucracy. Godspeed!


 In Ocala, the Star Banner Seeks Its Readers Adviceimgres

The Ocala Star-Banner in Ocala, Florida, has had a Reader Advisory Board since April, 2015. Its  “13 avid readers of the paper” advise the Star Banner’s city desk. Geez, where would we be with newspapers today if more of them had decided to have such direct feedback from readers? Perhaps with more surviving papers, we’d like to think.

Communication, indeed, needs to be a community concern, by whatever means occurs to those members who value effective, constructive relationships. “Getting the word out” is the primary function of newspapers and their community backers. That’s primary, not legacymind you.


Be Open – Communicate

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Across the country, David W. Hegg in Santa Clara, California, reflects on how “Communication breeds trust. Lack of communication tends to breed suspicion.” And that can happen at a very personal level. “When couples communicate frequently, trust abounds. But silence over time contributes to growing suspicion.”

Yes, be out there and open. The links between people, whether at a community level or personally, are expressed verbally, in terms of presence or, at a community level, print or electronics. Don’t leave a void where words can contribute understanding.


Nuclear Plant Notifications Matter

Browns Ferry

To the public, the best way to become comfortable with a neighboring nuclear power plant is to be notified when anything unusual happens, however inconsequential it might be. That’s the purpose of the “Unusual Event” notification, the lowest “emergency” level at nuclear plants.

That’s why learning of a nuclear plant  the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry – that pooh-poohed a high radiation event that was resolved quickly, without an unusual event being declared, was annoying. At Three Mile Island after the 1979 accident there, we declared an unusual event even when workers were climbing on the cooling towers in routine maintenance checks, for they’d be visible to the public. We later created a new category – an Event of Potential Interest (EPPI) – for “events” like these. And the neighbors appreciated it.