It Is All About Communication

Ryan KoltiskaBy Ryan Koltiska
Director of Marketing and Communications
Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce

 [This article originally appeared as a “Community Perspectives” article in The Sheridan Press, April 4, 2015.]

Communicating is a big deal. Billions are spent every year trying to communicate messages through television, radio, print, billboards…. In any way they can, people are trying to convey their message to you. It’s happening right now as you read this article.

What is interesting, however, is how much MIS-communication happens. Have you ever sent an email and the recipient took it completely out of context? I have had people think I am mad just because I sent a short sentence to them without the use of an exclamation mark or a happy face symbol. Never underestimate the importance of emoticons.

Sometimes miscommunications are funny, like when your smartphone autocorrects and places in a word completely out of context. The good news is that those errors are easily fixed with a follow-p text, “Oops … stupid autocorrect … LOL.” However, sometimes we receive messages that when communicated poorly are much more detrimental.

I recently had a discussion with a local legislator to whom I asked, “How is the life of a politician?” I expected a “fine” or “things are going well,” but I received a much more enlightening answer. It was explained to me how this new world of instant messages where people expect to receive information in five seconds to answer their questions has significantly impacted the world of politics. The general public is receiving blog updates and Facebook posts that they read for less than five seconds trying to convey messages that are much more complex than a simple glance can communicate. How, for example, can you “tweet” the complexity of a bill that legislators have spent months working on? How does the headline “Senator X Votes No on Bill 111” give full insight to the hours that the bill was debated?

This legislator I spoke with said total value judgments on our elected representatives based on a yes or no vote are happening too often, in part due to the truncated information we receive from an instant gratification society. I felt sheepish, because I am guilty.

Following that conversation, I attended the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee meeting where the whole group was able to sit down, face to face, with another local legislator. It was outstanding. I think we all left that meeting with a whole new understanding of the real issues behind the headlines. Did I mention it was face to face?

I still am going to get information from TV, websites and Facebook, but I am convinced that nothing can substitute for good, old fashioned, face-to-face communication. I believe this is something the Chamber does well, providing opportunities for you to have deeper interaction with a diverse group of people, whether it’s a local business owner or a state official. For example, the Government Affairs Committee provides forums where questions can be asked of elected officials, and answers can be received within the context of real body language … no emoticons needed.

I am grateful for the interactions I get with so many in the community, getting to know and understand people at a deeper level that Twitter could ever provide. I am even more grateful for the real answer I received from the real legislator: the message was heard loud and clear.

In this world of quick answers and short attention spans, I would encourage anyone to seek deeper answers to questions that deserve the attention. Take advantage of the numerous networking opportunities that the Chamber offers to connect you to people with those answers. I had my conversation with the legislator a a Chamber luncheon.

Where will you have that next best conversation? How about breakfast with the Governor? Sure, we’ve got you covered. Join us April 29 for a breakfast with Gov. Matt Mead. Now that deserves a smiley face.






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