Politicians and the need for consistent effective communication,
Effective communication is a two way process- sending the right message that is also being correctly received and understood by the other person or group of persons. The modern world is continually shrinking into a global village of sort, and contrastingly effective communication has become even more complex
However, in the current social complexities of the 21st century, Barack Obama is a man that stands out as an effective communicator par excellence.
Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th and current president of the United States of America and the first Afro-American to occupy the prestigious seat. He practically came from “nowhere” to warm himself into the hearts of the American citizens who were then at their most divided and non cooperative mood since the famous American Revolution; it was through his unique abilities to pass his message across, positively and convincingly, that won him the United States presidency.
By the time he gave his historic Democratic National Convention speech in July 2004, his status as a positive and effective communicator was noticed by the world. The 17- minute address grabbed headlines so much a newspaper in the United States wrote a story titled “Who the heck is this Guy“. His success in transforming himself from the “obscure black senator” aspiring to become the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party to a formidable presidential hopeful was primarily based on his admirable communication skills; in this write up I shall try to identify and elucidate some of these qualities.
Firstly, President Obama’s appearance and confidence went a long way during his presidential campaign. Issuing his remarks in a formal setting, while dressed in a business attire and flanked by large American flags helped project him as “presidential“, His sheer confidence helped grabbed the attention of the world (everybody wanted to listen to this daring black guy who wanted to become the President of the most powerful nation).His confident body language and determined tone reinforced his commanding stature.
President Obama’s ability to connect with the people on an emotional level is likewise very significant, he uses stories to educate, motivate, inspire as well as connect with his fellow citizens. During his presidential campaign, he told stories about his life, their lives and how together they could create a better future. In his many inspiring speeches he often told stories of his “poor background” and his disadvantaged position as a presidential candidate. These stories often seamlessly merged into stories of “who the Americans are” and “who they are going to be“. All these made the people to identify with him, listen to him and respond to him.
Additionally, the clarity in delivering his messages is outstanding, throughout his Presidential campaign he often used simple and easily understandable sentences so Americans and the world could grab easily, exactly what he meant. If there were issues he wanted to explain and emphasize he used his familiar life stories or even the day to day average American story to illustrate and elucidate his point, he was indeed precise, using good facts, He was neither too deep or long neither was he too short.
Also noteworthy is Obama’s ability to maintain link between his sayings in a structured and inconspicuously planned way. Now, I am not sure if this has anything to do with effective communication but I sure know that what he says sounds interesting and amazingly understandable just like the folklore we listened attentively to when we were kids, He was always using a story to point out a problem and then leaving you with the initiative to solve the problem easily, all on your own.
Another major characteristic of President Obama’s communicative skills is his ability to listen and even demonstrate amazingly that he his listening. In his acceptance speech he said “But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree“. He listened to both what people were saying and what they were not saying. He listened to the International community when he cancelled the anti-missile defense program that was to be launched in the Eastern-European countries of Czech Republic and Poland, a major strategy that helped improve Russo-America relationship.
Similarly, President Obama’s ability to demonstrate honesty to a large extent was very remarkable, in his acceptance speech he demonstrated this when he said “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there”. Similarly, in the “cabinet appointment scandal”, instead of pointing accusing fingers and shedding blame. He identified that “we are going to make sure we fix this so it doesn’t happen again“. The usage of the word “we” showed he admitted being part of the problem, acknowledging his mistakes and offering a collective way out of the problem. This approach shows a constructive approach to communication, symbolic of honesty, dignity and trust.
Finally, I believe that effective communication cannot take place if the two parties involved does not take cognizance of each other , like a mother and her child, the person doing the talking will have to think like “The mother”, and so must the listener; Everyone should be aware of each other’s feelings, desires and fears. Obama encapsulated these qualities and even more. He certainly represents a positive example of an effective communicator.