Communications Perspectives from Classic Board GamesBy Martin Waxman

Can you believe it’s already 2014?

I hate to admit it, but it still feels like 2004 to me – or maybe I’m just regressing.

You can always count on the end of one year and the start of the next for a bevy (or is that plethora?) of posts on communications resolutions, roundups, look backs, look-aheads, and other slate-cleaning thoughts.

Clean Slates and Fresh Starts

Whenever I think of slate-cleaning, I harken back to my fifth grade teacher, Miss Huss, who, on the first day of class, held up a blank piece of paper and said whatever run-ins she may have had with any of us in the past don’t matter any more.

The 10-year-old me was glad she did. She began each new class with a tabula rasa.

That reminded me a bit of Monopoly: A fresh start is equivalent to a get out of jail free card. But I liked it.

One of the benefits of a clean slate is it offers you the possibility to change. It lets you clear your imagination for all the wonderful new things you want to learn, teach, and do.

Communications Insights and Board Games

So in the spirit of the great tabula rasa of my youth, here are three things I’ll be adding to my own communications clean slate – er, screen – in 2014, in the form of kid’s board games:

    1. Sorry: It could be the quintessential Canadian pastime – Parcheesi-polite. But with the speed of our digital communications world, defensiveness and bad judgment are never a good excuse. They often cause irreparable harm to reputations, reputations we’ve worked hard to build. Don’t be like the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. In a crisis, step up early, accept responsibility for your actions, embrace the sincere apology, and learn from your mistakes.
    2. Concentration: With social media, it’s easy to piddle away time. That is, endlessly flit from one thing to the next without accomplishing a whole heck of a lot.We’re all guilty of constant partial attention to a greater or lesser extent. OK, for me it tends to fall on the greater side a bit too often. But if we want to get anything significant done, let’s give our full attention to the tasks at hand.It’s amazing what we can accomplish in 30 focused minutes and a schedule.
    3. Etch-a-Scrabble: That one doesn’t exist. Yet. I’m using it as a metaphor for getting as good at telling stories with pictures as I am with words. Communication uses all the senses.Rather than adopting a visual versus verbal mindset, we should integrate photography and video-making with our writing skills. Or, if you don’t fancy yourself a particularly strong writer, visual mediums offer a whole slew of opportunities.

What games would you add to your communications slate in 2014 and why? Your turn to roll the dice.

Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman, MCM, APR, is a senior advisor to Spin Sucks and runs a consultancy, Martin Waxman Communications. He leads digital and social media training workshops, conducts AI research, and is a LinkedIn Learning author and one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast. Martin teaches social media at McMaster University, the Schulich School of Business, Seneca College, and the UToronto SCS and regularly speaks at conferences and events across North America.

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