Communication Naivety

Now I have always believed that successful communication requires engagement. I think this is a larger theme than “conversation” particularly among large corporations.

If someone is negative about your organization, if they have expressed views that you believe are untrue or incorrect, then effective communications is all about engaging with that individual or group to try and understand their issues or provide an alternative viewpoint – and in the case of factual errors correct any errors.

Of course there will always be occasions when someone is unwilling to participate or listen to reason, and you have to know the right time to withdraw. However, it has always made sense to me, that in the first instance, you should reach out and try to communicate rather than ignore it.

In the past, I have always questioned the practice of simply ignoring third parties you perceive to be negative to your organization. That’s a simplistic approach to communication, which does nothing to address what may often be misunderstandings or actual problems you can learn from. However, I am not naive enough to think that this approach will be taken by everyone. The current wave of people promoting the beauty of conversation and the death of corporate communications, fail to take into account the demands of the corporate organism.

Take two recent examples. First of all look at Altera‘s decision to completely freeze out Wells Fargo Security analyst Tad LaFountain, because, it seems, he wrote negative analysis on the company.

Then look at Cisco‘s strong arm attempts at preventing an analyst presentation on some new security flaws that have been found in their products.

This is the reality. Companies aren’t even ready to fully engage with people at this point, don’t mind create conversations with them. I believe conversation will become more important for successful companies, but it will take time, leadership and bravery, and we are nowhere near that nirvana at this point.

That’s the reality.

[Thanks to Duncan Chapple for the link.]