Monday, 6 July 2015

Polls Predictions and Bold Communication

I was right.  In May after the General Election, I wrote:

So I’m willing to take bets right now on any election that’s coming up that those pundits and pollsters will be trotted out again as though nothing at all happened. And all that noise will just keep getting louder and louder..

That’s exactly what happened in the lead up to the Greek referendum.  Day after day we were told that according to the polls the vote was ‘neck and neck’. 

Neck and neck??

They couldn’t have been more wrong.  And I don’t get it.  If I was so wrong in my work, and I mean really wrong, why would anyone hire me again to be just as wrong the next rime around?

I said before that as a culture we now seem to be so dependent on polls that we can’t live without them even though, in these two cases certainly, they have been spectacularly wrong.  They will be wrong again and again and again, and they will still be hired to make predictions.

Why not just use soothsayers?

What is this need to know ahead of time the outcome of an election?  Comes back to the need for certainty, anchors, instead of ‘letting nature (or voters) take its course.’

My gripe with it all is how it interferes with real communication.  Many of the interviews and discussions and commentaries were based on the referendum predictions.  By all means have a point of view, take your vox pop, write editorials and op ed pieces.  But for goodness sake, stop the noise of the pollsters.

Because then what happens when they get it wrong is that we have all the commentary then based on what went wrong.

Nothing went wrong.  People voted as they wanted. In this case a resounding No!  Do we really care how the pollsters got it wrong?  It’s distracting and unnecessary.

This brings me back to other blogs I’ve written about the status quo and patterns particularly to do with communication. Our lives are filled with patterns and there’s nothing wrong with that – I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel each time I do something.  However, patterns in communication can get in the way of resolving conflict. 

Two people or even two nations get into a pattern in the way they communicate and they get stuck.  Being stuck in a pattern usually means going ‘round and ‘round saying the same old things, trotting out the same old arguments, pointing the same fingers of blame and ending up in the same place they started.

Patterns in communication also lead to a kind of mindlessness.  We’re so used to how things are that we communicate by rote rather than taking stock and deciding to do something differently.

Changing or even challenging the status quo takes courage. 

Certainly, Alexis Tsipras has shown courage in challenging the status quo that he inherited.  

Whether he will be successful or not remains to be seen.  But he has definitely upset a lot of people by not sticking to the pattern.

Here’s my challenge to you:

Look at one communication you have with another person that isn’t working well.

Identify the patterns that are part of that communication (or lack thereof).

Having looked at the patterns identify one – just one – you could change.  Decide what you could do to change it….without predicting the outcome.  You might make it worse, you might make it better; the trick is to try something different in order to achieve a different outcome.

You don’t have to be a leader to demonstrate bold leadership. Making one small change to a pattern that’s keeping you stuck is bold enough. 


Check out Impact Factory’s range of Communication courses and our Elite Five Day Communicate with Impact Training.


By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

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