This week it’s royalty that we’re learning from, none other than the class act that is the Duchess of Cambridge herself. She and Prince William are endorsing official guidance on how to cope during the pandemic including maintaining contact with friends and family via telephone. It’s a story that also brings perspective of a different type, see final para. Phoning colleagues and clients is exactly the sort of advice recommended in The Power of Personal under the section Show me the Real You, a useful and under-rated bit of kit in the Communications Toolbox needed by leaders and HR right now.
Why? Because speaking to someone one-to-one gives something of yourself. Yes, the generosity of your time, but also something utterly personal, your voice:
“Like your handwriting, your voice is unique, cannot be faked and is instantly recognisable. Tone and content can be flexed in a one-to-one, making it a totally personal experience for the other person. Your voice has the power to convince, reassure, persuade, warm, and excite applying precisely the right nuances.” (The Power of Personal – page 279)
Phone calls open up the opportunity for conversation, to listen and to learn. In his book, Conversation – How Talk Can Change your Life by Theodore Zeldin;
“Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.”
I think we’re all in need of some very new and radical trains of thoughts and new cards.
Phone calls work across generations, countries, cultures, sexual orientation, ethical preferences and time zones. There is nowhere a phone call can’t go.
Leaders, enjoy the element of surprise and start a new habit, call three people a day in your organisation and see what happens. I promise you this, they will remember it forever.
The perspective? What prompted this blog was a story about the Duchess of Cambridge talking on the phone to the chief executive of Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity (The Sunday Times, 28 March). There is a section on how to support vulnerable children at such an uncertain time.