Communication strategies and channels, however well-crafted and used, are only meaningful if fundamental personal communication competencies are in place across an organization. These competencies ideally encompass authenticity, integrity, empathy, right intentions and high levels of emotional intelligence. IABC Associate Editor Khyla Flores recently spoke with the founder of The Communication Troubleshooter, Penelope Newton-Hurley, about the need for ethical communication and how to navigate the world of “alternative facts.”
Khyla Flores: What is the importance of truth and transparency to the communication profession?
Penelope Newton-Hurley: Truth and transparency, in my opinion, are fundamental, and the key foundation to all communication. When an audience has any inkling that something isn’t quite as it is being reported, then at best they will be cautious, and at worst their trust could be seriously at stake.
A culture of truth has to be nurtured by leadership—a leader who demonstrates what it is to be truthful serves as a role model and has the opportunity to influence the rest of the organization.
It helps enormously to state truth as a value, as long as the leadership fully embraces its breadth—it can’t cover some areas and not others and can’t contain loopholes. Truth has an even better chance of running through the organization if employees sign up to a charter or code. IABC, for instance, has a code of ethics that promotes such communication linchpins as accuracy, honesty, sensitivity to others, and only guaranteeing what you know can be delivered. The multinational Intel has a code of conduct that states, “We value clear, accurate, respectful and professional communication in all of our business interactions. Ambiguous and unprofessional communications—whether oral or written—can harm Intel. Even well-intentioned communications can be misinterpreted.”
KF: Are there signs that these values are being challenged?...
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