IMG_20120906_223430Online, as with offline, to get people to really hear your voice and message, you need to be effective in both word and deed. Just being nice or popular doesn’t mean you are going to be effective or influential or make people take notice of what you have to say. To really make things happen you need to have the respect of and respect for others and be trusted to conduct your self in an appropriate manner, even when debate is fierce.

There is a great blog post by Helen Reynolds about return on influence. One of the things I took from that post was a comment “it’s not just doing things better but doing better things”.

There are some big changes happening in Leeds (and no doubt elsewhere) at the moment. I know there will be opposing views and that some things will never be perfect for everyone, not that we shouldn’t try, or try new things and new ways of doing them, but they just won’t! People will have, and will rightly voice, opinions for and against; that’s how it works.

There’s a fine line in emphasising a valid point and being overly aggressive, sarcastic or actually rude. Managing that fine line can make the difference between turning people away or engaging them further with a potentially valid point; look what happened in the tale of the boy who cried wolf. The ‘critical friend’ role is a difficult one to get right. I admire those who take on that role, when done appropriately, both within my organisation and outside. I am that person myself, and it’s not an easy role to play sometimes; people generally don’t like change or challenge, but how you do it can make such a difference.

Delivering big projects or changes across cities and wider involves groups, organisations, residents and businessses working together, collaborating, negotiating, meeting, compromising, regrouping…… agreeing on common ground and sometimes agreeing to disagree. In my view ‘doing things better’ involves making and maintaining relationships with those who have alternate views, involves conversations and being prepared to listen to other’s views which actually may include potential ‘could have beens’. 

It’s also about being open and honest and managing expectations of what is possible and what isn’t and being prepared to explain why something isn’t possible if it just isn’t.

It is about being respectful. Manners are free.

Not everyone will agree about the ‘better things’ or how they are done. Perhaps how they are explained can be better and how opinions on them are expressed can be better too.

That seems like one ambition worth agreeing on.