As much as we all hate rules and like to break the rules, we really like to have some. They give us guideposts. As conscious humans, each of us operates from our own playbook filled with our own ‘rules’. Whether in our personal or professional lives, our communications and interactions are shaped by all of the experiences that came before.
These are the informal playbooks we don’t think about. We don’t write them down in contrast to those produced to support your product launch plans, integrated marketing campaigns, trade shows and more. The latter are important to align your teams and ensure consistent messaging and execution. Both provide the informal and formal ‘rules’ of engagement.
What happens when things change, sometimes very quickly? Our playbook becomes outdated. Even obsolete. We’re left flying blind, fumbling our way forward. We need new ‘rules’. We need a new map, essentially. And sometimes these rules are built trial and error. In any relationship, we sometimes can really step in it. We can misread body language and intent – especially if it’s via email or text let alone face to face.
What if instead of a playbook filled with rigid rules, you created one built around general themes? Certainly your internal playbook should be more fluid and adjust for the situation and person before you. That requires active listening. That requires empathy. And it requires taking a chance you might be wrong and having to say your sorry.
I have a poster on my office wall featuring a quote from Miki Agrawal: Iteration, Iteration, Iteration, Iteration, Iteration, iteration, iteration, iteration is perfection. Never is that more true than in communicating personally and professionally. Be open. Be intentional. Be vulnerable. And most of all, be willing to break the rules and form new ones.