An Important Lesson, or Two, from a Mayor’s Botched Communication

We’ve got a little drama playing out here in Dallas, and one major cause may be unclear and botched communication from our Mayor, Mike Rawlings.

The issue is a community discussion and consideration of a “home rule” effort re. the local school system. I’m not entering into the political discussion with this post. But I’m writing this to help us understand the critical need for clear communication.

Here’s the lesson. Don’t mess up in the communication department.

Here’s what Mayor Rawlings said (from this Dallas Morning News entry):

“I knew it would be a difficult process,” Mayor Rawlings said at news conference at UNT Dallas College of Law. “Many people have been insulted or upset about it. I apologize if I contributed to any of those hurt feelings.”

He added: The rollout of this effort was misunderstood and poorly executed. As my wife told me, ‘People don’t get it and when people don’t get it, they fear it.’”

Two thoughts:

#1 – When something is new, and potentially “scary,” to folks, be extra clear. Unclear communication leads to even greater fear. (Mayor Rawlings’ wife’s insight is right on target).

#2 – And, to remind us of the obvious, getting it right the first time sure does save headaches later. You can’t ever take it for granted. If you have something/anything important you are trying to communicate, you’d better be thorough, thoughtful, extra clear…

The famous line – “what we’ve got here is failure to communicate” – is still, and always, a clear reminder. Communicate. Communicate clearly. And repeat your clear message until it is understood, and hopefully embraced.

Some people call communication skills one of those “soft skills.”  Maybe so…  but, if you mess it up, the results can be pretty hard on you.



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