Nothing like mothering to make you understand real engagement

Nothing.  No thing. Nothing will make you – compell you, in fact, to really engage with another human being like motherhood.  Real engagement, not simply a slogan or a communications strategy, is human, at times messy and always worthwhile.  It’s what being a mother is all about.  That experience, and the skill one learns from allowing oneself to be truly human, makes for powerful, authentic impact.  

These past two days at the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) annual national conference, CPRS2015 Engagement + Impact, this year in magnifique Montreal, Canada, I’ve been listening to insightful presentations and talks about communications.  I’ve been in the communications business for a few decades now, and I can truly say that nothing prepared me for being an authentic comm pro, like being a mother, however. 

There is no “spinning”, no “message packaging” no “comm strat” that will serve any communications/PR person as much as the ability to be authentic and real.  And, that authenticity, that vulnerability as it were, scares the bejeesus out of folk.  (Not just PR folk.)

Today (June 1/15) the Globe and Mail’s Monday Morning Manager column is about conflict and how to manage it, and that relates directly to being authentic, and communicating and engagement.  When we are open, transparent, “real” and genuine, we risk conflict.  That can be a frightening thing.  It can also be one of the most rewarding things in the world.

Tonight, I treated myself to some TLC.  That meant a decision not to join the very fab event (plus delicious dinner) my conference colleagues are attending.  Instead, I reviewed my presentation for tomorrow, did a little yoga in my room, weights in the fitness centre, then hot pool/cold pool therapy and a light sauna.  In a word: ahhhhhhhh.  

Then a bit of a late dinner and glass of wine:  an Austrailian vognier.  I have a tiny bit of French, but use English most times in Montreal, and the waiter, after the general “salut” etcetera, spoke to me in English…calling me “dear”.  I ignored it a few times, then said, “Excusez-moi, mais…I would appreciate it if you didn’t call me ‘dear’.  

He was taken aback and apologied.  It’s okay, I replied.  And then he called me “lady”.  I said nothing.

A moment later he came back and apologied again.  It’s okay I said,  I should explain.  You would have to be very close to me, or my father…otherwise it is disrespectful to a woman…and lady, it’s even worse.  We laughed a little and talked about differences in French and English.  

I passed him as I left the restaurant. Merci beaucoup, I said.  Et bonne nuit. I meant it. I was appreciative of our discussion.  Conflict can become real conversation.  Try it.



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