Simon de Cintra (Act Naturally co-founder/ actor/ coach) visited our offices on Friday to talk to us about communication.
Simon started with a story about the first televised presidential debate, which was between Nixon and Kennedy in the 1960’s. This was a time when Televisions weren’t widely available and there was a massive divide between the people who heard the radio vs. those that saw Nixon and Kennedy on their TV sets – essentially, it turned out that those with a TV voted for Kennedy, but those who listened to the radio voted for Nixon. You can only imagine why*.
There is something important here. It seems that appearances really do matter in business. A persons behaviour and how they present themselves has a tremendous impact on the way others experience them.
This suggests to me that ‘trust’ is instinctive. It’s about the way it makes us feel as well as what’s being said.
In the theme of politics (because of course, trust is extremely important here), the Charlie Brooker C4 drama series, Black Mirror, recently devoted an entire episode to the theme of the lack of trust in the political sphere. (By the way, if you haven’t seen any of the series, you really should check it out!)
Essentially, the idea was that the public became to trust a cartoon character, ‘Waldo’ (and voted for ‘him’) over the actual politicians.
But Waldo, of course, isn’t real and the fact is, no one cares. For the execs and the general public, Waldo is just as real as the rest, and just as trustworthy. In this way, Brooker makes the case that we are only steps away from artificial politicians.
It feels to me like the tide is changing, and the public are more likely to cast a “none of the above” vote in protest to what is perceived as a lack of trustworthiness among our Members of Parliament – it is widely believed that the recent Eastleigh by-election proves that. You’ve all heard the joke, “why did Nick Clegg cross the road? Because he said he wouldn’t.”.
We’ve moved on from the 1960’s. We have unlimited access to knowledge and are no longer happy to believe the smiling politician who ‘once met someone in exactly the same predicament’ as us!
It’s not enough anymore to only be able to communicate in the right way or talk about the right things. It’s now more important than ever that trust is deeply rooted within the person or organisation.
No one just listens to the radio anymore.
**There’s a more detail here on the first televised presidential debate, from The New York Times if you’d like to read up on it.