Thursday, 24 January 2013

It's Not What You Say It's The Way That You Say It!


One of the news stories running today which I posted to my Dump Him Love Facebook page is about the faux pas that Anna Soubry the Public Health Minister made. In this article in The Independent she is quoted as saying, 'when I walk around my constituency you can almost tell somebody’s background by their weight'. Now you don't have to be a public relations type to see that this is not only a silly statement to make but also insulting. So, instead of her important central message about healthy eating being heard, everyone is concentrating on the silliness of her statement. Soubry, was speaking at a food industry conference about the reduction of  fat, sugar and salt in their products. She was there to gee up the manufacturers who seem to be dragging their heels in making their products healthier. However, instead of sticking with that, she fell back on blaming the people themselves and especially the parents. She could have voiced her concern about obesity without citing the poor at all. As the article points out you only have to look at Eric Pickles to deduce weight problems occur in every strata of society. 

I've been mulling this over whilst at the same time shredding loads of old client notes. These are notes I kept as an aid memoir whilst I was working. They had no value to anyone but me. They helped to keep me focussed on the client work and often helped me figure out the dynamics of the relationship and what was happening in the room. As you can imagine improving communication was often high on the agenda. My theory (not mine specifically) was that it's almost possible to say anything if you couch it in the correct language. Now before you jump on me I not saying that it's not possible to be offended even if appropriate language is used but in normal everyday life that's rarely the case. 

Good communication if you want to get your point across is first, say something nice to catch the attention. Then say what you want to say. Then finish saying something nice. So Soubry's could have made her speech using that strategy. She could have ended saying thank you to the manufacturers for the efforts they've made so far. Then perhaps express her concern about them meeting the target whilst stressing her cognisance of their difficulties. Then she could have thanked them in advance for their co-operation in meeting the target on time.

Now because of her clumsy communication she's upset every faction. I was brought up to believe you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. The only thing Soubry caught were headlines she could have done without! 




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