Way back in the last century when I attended Ottawa Teachers’ College, Professor Stewart taught Classroom Management. He had a handful of golden rules, the most important of which was “You must always be in control of your classroom. Love works best, but if you can’t make them love you, make them fear you. Nothing else works.”
A little draconian for 21st Century sensibilities, but at its core was the truth that you can’t communicate if your listener isn’t paying attention.
Nothing has changed. In fact, in today’s multi-tasking world, where most of us have the attention span of a gnat, the rule is even more important. If the listener is not with you, you're wasting your breath.
Consider the recent US election. One candidate had a sensible, coherent platform, but she was boring. She never even tried to get your attention, she just kind of assumed you were listening. Bet you can't even remember her slogan.
The other guy had a sketchy platform and a sketchy background, but he electrified his base. He was outrageous, and of course you remember his slogan.
So, what's the takeaway from all of this? Very simply, if you want to be an effective communicator, you need to get and keep your listeners' attention.
(More in future editions of the Friday Briefing.)
Norman Bowley is a communicator by passion, a lawyer and educator by profession. Thirty-six years of legal practice after ten years as an educator have equipped Norm to teach professionals how to communicate effectively and with power.