WEDNESDAY 26 JUL 2017 2:59 PM

OPINION: COMMUNICATION AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

The growing importance of harnessing minds as well as hearts emerged as a key them at this year’s IoIC conference. Suzanne Peck examines lasting lessons from the event

Taking time out to go to a conference never comes at a good time. In March, you may see a clear diary for May and think ‘that will be great’ but as the date draws nearer, the diary gets fuller and frankly you wonder about pulling out. ere’s so much more that you could do – and you’re just going to come back to an even longer list of tasks. Is it going to be a waste of time?

IoIC held its national conference recently and I think the majority of the delegates agreed that as well as the learning and the chance to network, the simple act of suspending the day job for 36 hours was worth the time alone.

The act of ‘taking three’ – stopping when you have a decision to make or are feeling stressed, taking a breath and then breathing out – helps us to make far better decisions and being at this year’s conference felt like taking thousands of breaths.

We’ve held a national conference for the past 40 years. is year’s, held in Bristol, was the best yet. Here are some key reasons why.

It was billed as the opportunity to discuss IC’s role at the heart of an organisation, but IoIC Live 2017 turned out to be equally focused on another part of the human anatomy – the brain. Two days of insight, case studies and presentations underlined the premise that great communication isn’t just about the mechanics of what we do, it’s also intrinsically linked with emotional intelligence.

is was a conference that demonstrated that IC – as if we ever doubted it – is so much more than producing messages and channels. Our growing challenge as communicators is to win the hearts and minds of our audiences by better understanding the people we need to influence.

I’m not suggesting that we need to become mind readers or amateur psychiatrists but anything that helps us to understand the ‘why and the ‘what’ of what drive behaviours – and therefore change them – is of increasing importance.

Another thing we learned was, when it comes to ROI for face-to-face comms, outcomes (e.g. changes in behaviour) mean more than employees’ general event feedback.

With more technology options than ever before, and more appetite for them, don’t just use tech because you can. Digital tools aren’t shortcuts to get around underlying problems. The focus shouldn’t be on ‘I have too many emails,’ it should be ‘Why do I have so many emails?’ It’s easy to fall into the trap of starting with the tech options rst, instead of the needs of the people that will use it.

We have 96 seconds to make a mobile communication or interaction count. The average person reaches for their phone 150 times a day and they are on it for 240 minutes a day. That gives us just 96 seconds to make communications count – no lengthy emails or texts.

We heard a lot about the growing role of emotional intelligence when it comes to communicating change in an organisation. It’s important that communicators understand the emotions their colleagues experience at times of change but it is just as important to work on our own emotions and resilience.

Logic is not king – 86% of our decisions are driven by the emotional part of the brain. In
a business landscape where so much internal communication is still funnelled through logic, which only accounts for 14% of our decisions, it’s no surprise that trying to engage people can be difficult.

People are people – to communicate more effectively, combine an understanding of psychology and common sense. Hearts, minds, emotion, logic; there was something for everyone here.

Suzanne Peck is president of the IoIC

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