“…For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart…”
– Gospel of Matthew
Yes. That is a quote from the bible. No. This post has nothing to do with religion. What it does concern, though, are reflections about how we communicate with one another – in the public square and personally – and what is revealed in these exchanges.
USING OUR WORDS | THEN AND NOW
In the 5th century B.C., the ancient Greeks elevated verbal communication to what we might now consider an art form. In order to resolve disputes between citizens, the Athenians turned to verbal sparring rather than fisticuffs to settle matters. Over time, the ability to speak well led to greater influence, wealth, and status in society, and citizens came to understand first-hand the power of words.
By contrast, today we seem to lack similar reverence for this most elementary form of communication. We’ve become so jaded by regular doses of dishonest and misleading messaging that we no longer trust the information we receive, and we hardly give second thought to the disingenuous or distasteful.
CASE | STUDY
You may have heard about this week’s controversy surrounding David Letterman and some rather “uncharitable” comments he made about Governor Sarah Palin and her family. There is no need to re-hash the details of the the dust-up here, nor is there any intent to discuss politics. However, the episode is worth noting because of the broader discussion that has ensued.
The quote above from Matthew reflects one point of view that was mentioned this week. It illustrates that when thinking about how we communicate with one other – publicly or privately – it is important to consider not only what is expressed, but, ultimately, what we reveal about ourselves.
Mr. Letterman is experiencing the difficulties that arise when a person’s words begin to cast doubt upon his character. Though unfortunate, this situation also presents an opportunity for each of us to examine our individual efforts to address these issues in our personal and professional lives.
YOUR HEART | YOUR BRAND
No matter your line of work, you are likely to be in some way involved in the practice of expressing a “brand.” Certainly, designers, PR and marketing professionals come immediately to mind; however, each of us is responsible for our personal brand identity as well. This involves, in no small way, your audience’s assessment of how you communicate to them, and your perceived credibility. Thus, it is important to consider your words as a representative expression of who you are.
It is said that the author G.K. Chesterton once noted: If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. This simple statement gets right to the essence of what we should all seek to define for ourselves:
- What do I stand for?
- What are my core values?
- Does my “brand” speak out of my heart?
- Do I communicate in ways that truly reflect who I am?
These questions are not only important for people in the public eye. Rather, our society would be better-served if every one of us made a conscious effort to align “brand” and “heart” in a sincere and thoughtful way. A voice grounded in truth will always remain stronger than one that is meek with uncertainty.
- If you really want to know about the Letterman-Palin hubub – info at C4P
- Personal Branding 101 – at Mashable.com