Change your judgment about the communication profession? Let’s not take the same ‘elephant path’ for the next 10 years, but actually try to take a step or rather even several steps in the right direction. In this article I tell you how you as a communication professional can do this and show the difference.
A few weeks ago I read the article ‘The 6 prejudices that communication professionals are done with’. Of course I recognize all six of them as a communication professional. Still, I think it’s a shame — even shocking — that we’re still writing about this in 2022. These prejudices were already there 10 years ago. Apparently we have not been able to remove them in the meantime.
Much of what is written about our profession can contribute to awareness about our added value as a communication professional. You can share the above article with your boss or colleagues and hope they remember its contents. But I wonder if they then understand the difference between your commitment and that of a ‘non-communication professional’.
That difference is sometimes difficult to explain. Especially if we can’t name the difference between the ‘communication skills’ listed in every job description and communication as a profession. Because what if ‘Gerda van Finance’ happens to write excellent texts because she writes novels in her spare time? Or that district manager Pim knows very well what is going on in his district because he knows how to use his network well?
So it can happen that Gerda writes better than I do as a communication professional (who sometimes has trouble with ‘d-tjes’ and ‘t-jes’). Or that it is better to ask Pim what residents think about a certain decision than to conduct a large-scale survey about it. Let’s try to dissect the container concept of ‘communication’. And show the difference between communication as a skill – which everyone does all day – and communication as a profession of the professional.
Communication as a profession
The communication profession consists of many different parts. Think of public relations, spokesperson, (digital) content management and monitoring and editing work. For these parts you need different skills such as the following or variants of this:
- Situational awareness: assessing the effect of your behavior on others
- Empathy: empathizing and taking into account the situation and feelings of others
- Listening: hearing, asking questions and wanting to understand what the other has to say
- Language and image skills: speaking, writing and imagining in a way that suits the other
- Networking: actively recognize and join relevant groups/networks
The different components and associated skills make our work varied, but also make the added value of our profession more difficult to explain to the non-communication professional. Because where we consciously combine and use these skills, they often do this unconsciously or not.
In addition, as communication professionals we are not ‘all-rounders’. We often come a long way, but no one is very good at all parts and skills of our profession. Fortunately, because how nice it is to be able to complement each other within the profession or a team.
Communicating as a skill
Non-communication professionals also use the aforementioned communication skills to a greater or lesser extent when communicating. And even though they often do this unconsciously, they are not ‘communicatively limited’. They really do know that you communicate with a six-year-old in a different way than you do with an angry neighbor or business customer.
This can mean that someone outside the communication team sometimes masters or uses a certain skill better than you (think of Gerda and Pim). If we do not explain to the organization that communication is a combination of the conscious use of the various skills, prejudices about our profession will continue to exist.
Communication professional, show the difference!
Let’s stop complaining that others don’t understand and appreciate our work, and start working to show the difference. So that they become aware of the added value of our work and the time, knowledge and experience that is required. Show clearly in your advice that you have combined the different communication skills and have devised an appropriate communication approach based on this. Or explain to your client or colleague how and why you edited his or her text.
Organize an internal ‘week of communication’ in which you show in various ways where your added value lies in the total communication process. Or provide a good onboarding program. This means that new employees know exactly what you stand for as a communication professional and what you expect from them.
Embrace the communicative qualities of the non-communication professionals! Be proud of it and use it. This saves you a lot of time that you can spend on the other skills needed for a total communication approach. An approach that is so effective that others can no longer and do not want to ignore you…
Source: Frankwatching by www.frankwatching.com.
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