In the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked to meet with recent college grads as well as those entering college and even a few people considering a career change to talk about my chosen field of communications. These requests have prompted me to contemplate why I chose to work in communications and whether, if I had it to do all over again, I would choose it again today.
I would and here is why: I believe in the inherent value of communications. I believe in the ability of communications to overcome differences. And I believe in the power of communications to inspire.
I have also seen and experienced first-hand the capacity of communications to impact relationships as well as companies.
At their core, human relationships are entirely reliant on communications. But even one-on-one communication can be very difficult because word choice, timing, emotions and different perspectives can get in the way of our ability to understand each other. When we are at our best, we break down misunderstandings and grow closer together; when we are at our worst, we unfortunately compound misunderstandings and grow apart. It seems like it should be so simple and yet I can say from personal experience, even as a communicator, it’s not. I’ll leave those stories for another day.
If you take it to the next level, think of how important it is for groups of people to understand each other and how important that basis is for them to agree on a direction and move forward to accomplish a goal. This might be a family, a sports or project team or even a group of friends. Communication is vital to reaching agreement. Yet how often do we hear stories of frustration around a lack of communication or misinterpretation of a communication’s intended meaning?
Thinking about it from a corporate perspective, good communications can help a business connect with those inside and outside the company and to become a better, more effective organization. Of course this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of work to develop and execute meaningful strategically aligned communications in a way that breaks through all the clutter. Equally important in the corporate setting is being authentic, transparent and quick. When it works, it can engage audiences and even inspire change. Being in communications at the center of making that happen can be exciting, interesting and, yes, also frustrating and challenging at times.
Communicators can help brands and companies be more open and transparent about their values and how they drive business decisions. When done well, a brand can become associated with specific ideals like courage, self-confidence or embracing differences. A brand can stand for change, for peace.
It doesn’t stop there. Perhaps I am being a bit idealistic, but when I look around the world today – a time of growing polarization, dissension, even outright conflict – I believe that communications can help bridge divides, mend fences and convey ideas that bring people together. We need that now more than ever.
While some of the loftier ideas about communications may not be what I do every day, and my personal approach to communications may not always be perfect, I do know that working in communications you have the opportunity to do what you love and to appreciate how others do it as well. From crafting a piece of content be it in written or visual form, to opening up a dialogue that didn’t exist before to stirring someone to action, it has impact.
Perhaps with all that said, I have my answer as to how to approach these conversations. It’s simple. The world needs more communicators because we have the ability to help others to listen, to speak, to communicate.