Read a great piece today in the Telegraph on how people talk at work. It’s so so so true. I’d use more ‘so’s and an exclamation mark but enough already, you get my enthusiasm.
Now, I work as a lowly scribe (described today as someone who does the ‘practical’ stuff and ‘helps out’) in corporate communications and I do reckon how an organisation presents itself is important.
For example, I used to work for a high falutin government department who liked using the third person and wherever possible to refer to itself as ‘the government’. This was an attempt to present a ‘magisterial’ front to the world and not let the press pick holes and fights between departments. A kind of shoulder-to-shoulder across Whitehall approach.
This kind of worked. Back then. It probably protected us a bit from the press and the lawyers – the big sticks behind today’s blame games. But, as the Telegraph points out, it no longer works. Setting up a cliff face type edifice against which your customers batter themselves vainly to be heard was never great. Now though, conversations which once would have chuntered out of steam down the pub fester forever a long time on the internet.
Authority has lost a lot of face recently (think politicians’ expense claims, climate change data concealment and the Catholic church) and acting like it’s in charge, even when it is, isn’t going to win it any public favours.
Organisations that don’t work out that they need to change their tone (first person, real people speaking, proper apologies, honest explanations, information useful to people outside) may still be safe from the lawyers. I doubt they’ll need to be though, as they’ll probably be out of business anyway.