Matt W.C. Joy

What ARE You Saying?

In Uncategorized on 19/11/2009 at 3:35 pm

Perhaps you are underestimating the power of your communication.  Courtesy of President Obama, be reminded…

So, here is a glimpse of the scene last Saturday (the 14th) in Japan.  While the man on the left may need no introduction, the couple of the right are Emperor Akihito and his wife.   At first glance and initial thought, this photo-op is one of a million for Obama and is of no more significance than most.  However, I first came across this photo from a major news agency in the States who was reporting on the backlash that the American President was facing because of this.

Like any story, this one has at least 2 varying perspectives.  First, let’s step into the diplomatic shoes of Obama.  This recently elected leader campaigned on CHANGE and was/is determined to bring about a news type of diplomacy and foreign affairs that would be founded on discussion and openness.  Each time you hear him sell vision it is as inclusive as possible and it seems he is desperately bringing a message of peace and unity to the global community.  In doing so, he appears to be bringing America alongside of nations, as opposed to shadowing nations with his America’s ‘greatness’.

** warning: this is pure Matt Joy speculation**

So, with this approach in mind…I can envision Obama wanting to make an over-the-top impression on an important ally like Japan by, 1. learning that the act of bowing would demonstrate an overwhelming respect to Akihito and, in turn, the world and 2. having the courage, as one of the most powerful people in the world, to do it!  But surely someone on his staff would let him know the risk involved here…considering not even the Prime Minister of Canada (pretty sure no one does diplomacy like us in our Mosaic of a country) never even took a bow to Akihito.

Which leads to the 2nd perspective…

The amount of flack that Obama received (yes, mostly from Conservative America) was fast and furious.  Thinking that the bow was a symbol of a weakened America and that it was a sign of inferiority, mortal men (quoting Bill Rowe here – what have I come to?), political pundits, and politicians alike, began to express dissent towards the actions of their Pres! Here is one of many articles written on the ‘outrage’: Outrage @ Obama Bow

This whole news piece got me to thinking about the way we communicate messages all throughout our days non-verbally.  Regardless of what Obama was hoping to communicate, there are going to be some who will misconstrue or misinterpret his message.  Why not take this example of one of the most influential people in our world today and remind yourself to think before you speak communicate?

You are not just talking with your words…your gestures, your smile or lack thereof, your body movements, your email, your tweets (thats a story for another day…apparently Conservative MP Jon Baird got called fat this week in a Liberal MP’s tweet on twitter), and other forms of message sending.  Be responsible for what you are saying regardless of how you are saying it!  Own up to your communication and if something needs to change go ahead and change it.  If something you have communicated needs to be retracted – well, sorry but we all lack that superpower.  However, an apology combined with a change in behavior will most often do the trick.

I learned a critical piece of advice in Industrial Arts class in Junior High:  ‘Measure twice, cut once.’

Perhaps I can liken that wisdom to this blog entry: Think twice, ‘speak’ once…or if need be, not at all.

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