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  • Aaron Zaslofsky

Short-form wisdom for high-brow folk

The word “wisdom” conjures many an image. One is of a hermit sage receiving bedraggled mountain climbers in search of knowledge, circa 1037 AD. OK, maybe that’s just me. Either way, here are the most shared short-form posts from yours truly over the past year. Enjoy (or enjoy an encore presentation)!

Employees and emotional nourishment

A wise friend said something that really struck me. FEELING supported as an employee is exactly that, a feeling. It's not a weekly touch base, level-up meeting, or performance review. These are purely venues and constitute BEING supported.

Feeling supported is an emotional response to someone showing genuine concern for you and your career. We may think we're doing right by our people by regularly spending time or thoughtfully preparing performance feedback. This is a start to be sure, but it's far from the end goal if you truly want your employees to feel supported.

Stir some nurturing emotions in your team today. Your people want and need it.

Relationships and technology

Relationships are the foundation on which business either flourishes or withers away. Relationships are predicated upon trust, confidence, and the belief that an organization and its leaders not only understand you, but consistently demonstrate their commitment to you through reciprocal actions.

Despite what I'm reading more and more, technological innovation will never supplant the importance of relationships in business. A blog, virtual town hall, or an app to reach field audiences can bridge a small part of the divide. The remaining void between some organizations and their people can only be filled by personal relationships with genuine leaders.

Words to live by

A colleague asked about the best business advice I've ever received. Here's one piece of advice I shared:

"Don’t spend too much time in your head – write it down"

This advice was provided by a highly accomplished executive I was fortunate to meet when I started my company. In a conversation we had, she sensed my reluctance to risk imperfection by putting half-baked ideas on paper. She taught me that the simple act of writing thoughts down can help you move ideas forward. Confidence also increases when you write and realize that your product is only what people can observe. Keep it in your head and you keep it from everyone else.

Business strategy and communication

A chef feels ownership and responsibility for his dish when he's able to select the ingredients and decide on the preparation technique. You wouldn't hand him a grocery bag someone else packed and expect his absolute best meal. The same applies to communications professionals who should be at the prep table (aka business strategy discussions) AND where the meal is served (aka communications execution of the strategy). That's getting the most from your communications expert – the person responsible for making change stick through deep understanding of the problem and solution.

Best question EVER

“What do you know that I don’t know, but should?”

It’s a mouthful, but few questions provoke more thought while making someone feel valued and that they’re having a meaningful business conversation that can do some good.

AI and communications

For communications and change professionals, skills like persuasion, building consensus, social understanding, and empathy will be the difference between our abilities and those of machines. More specifically, we humans are (fortunately) better suited to advise organizations and leaders in areas like articulating vision, and strategy or building social capital through the stakeholder engagement process.

These are the advanced skills serving highly effective strategic communications and change professionals right now. These same skills will prove less vulnerable to AI incursion in the future. And as technology and automation change our jobs, emotional intelligence – and the strategic counsel that stems from it – may prove the difference between those employed and those reduced to lesser roles.

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