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Communication

Another week, another Trump press conference, although entertaining for many it may be worrying for many others. What has that got to do with my Friday note you ask? On reflection, this week has been dominated by the need to think differently about the way we communicate effectively so that messages, whether good or bad, are understood.

So many of us think we are good communicators, and that might be true, but what we don’t really consider is how the other person receives that communication and invariably what we thought we had communicated for one reason or another hasn’t been heard.

Many years ago as part of my own personal development I did some work on communication because I had a view that for one reason or another my communication wasn’t transferring to others in an effective manner. The individual working with me, described communication as like a hand of cards and there were four styles -Helper, Mixer, Driver and Planner. As with many things we all have a preferred style of communicating. The problem comes when the recipients of the communication have a different communication style and it is because we really don’t understand the other person’s style that communication gets lost. In essence to be an effective communicator you have to change your style to suit the person or people you are speaking too, to ensure that the recipients of your communication receive the message and act upon it. Interestingly, we all have a preferred style but also that style changes when we are under pressure, this means we need to spend time understanding how we communicate in different circumstances and different forums.

This week communication has been at the forefront of my mind. Many of you will know I am the Senior Responsible Officer for the Communications and Engagement workstream within the STP (some of you will be asking why or how). The work that has been undertaken by the group is a good start but what we haven’t done is built a narrative about the benefits of any proposed changes outlined in the STP that gives a balance to the debate. This will be obvious to many of you but the reality is that building a narrative takes time, effort and resource. On Thursday I presented a paper to the Health and Care Transformation Board on what I thought was required to move the STP forward in this area. I was surprised by the reaction and what was clear was that although leaders understand the need for good communications and engagement they significantly undervalue what is needed to be successful. My reflection on this is that we have to work harder at highlighting the significant work that is needed if we are to transform the system on communicating and engaging with the public.

Finally remember this saying “if you said it, but the person hasn’t heard it, you haven’t said it” at least that’s what I am told.

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