Think about the differences in communication styles between a Doctor and a Politician. The Doctor uses various techniques to ensure clarity and logic despite the emotion which often exists within the conversation (i.e. anxiety, pain). The politician on the other hand, uses gestures to arouse emotion and to dispel logic (in most instances!).
Interestingly, the effectiveness of either parties message relies on the listener’s interpretation of three fundamental areas.
Reputation: The reputation of either party alters how their messages are received. A doctor is believed to be educated and therefore knowledgeable. My Chiropractor often offers me advice on lifestyle and health choices, despite his limited education in this area. Since he is a doctor of Chiropractic medicine, I tend to believe whatever he tells me related to my well being. A politician on the other hand, often has a reputation that precedes them, and as a political science degree has little merit relative to actually being a politician, they must focus on saying what they believe others want to hear in order to sway opinion. We have all bare witness to politicians who alter their stories and facts in order to sway the opinion of different groups.
Urgency: Doctor’s recognize that most who visit are looking for quick advice and help to alleviate that which ails them. A politician’s message is rarely urgent relative to our lifestyle and well being, hence contrary to the often short, terse advice a doctor provides, the politician will take time to construct, explain and ensure your interpretation of their message aligns with their intended outcome. The doctor is strong in “fact based” messaging; the politician, umm, not so much.
Supporting information: Doctors use specific facts and studies to support their positions, however as a result of the previous two factors above, they rarely have to digress. Politicians on the other hand use extensive stories and select unique (and often vague) studies to support their theories.
With this in mind, the next time you want to ensure your communication if effective consider the reputation you have with the audience, the sense of urgency related to your message, and what supporting facts or additional information will be required to further boost the quality of your message. Your message will be better received, and your audience will be more engaged.
© Shawn Casemore 2012. All rights reserved.