How not to Represent an Organization (Hint: It’s not about you)

Hi All,

Please read this article over at Police1. It’s about a young man who felt he needed to express himself on TikTok.

It’s important to note that this gentleman was disciplined because of what he did. He could have kept his perceptions and intentions to himself. The moment he acted on them, however, by posting them on social media it became an issue for his organization. We can have perceptions and intentions all day long. Acting on them, however, moves the discussion into a whole other realm.

Let us look at an organization and our role in it. According to Dr. George Thompson, the creator of Verbal Judo:
“To be a top-flight contact professional, you have to become an artist at representation, the first of three great communication arts.”

Representation is the keyword here, as it is the first of the three arts (the other two being Translation and Mediation), namely “the ability to represent the spirit of your organization, its goods, its goals, its produce, its policies, its philosophy. It is that philosophy that you must fully know and embrace, because every time you open your mouth, you personify it to whomever you’re talking to.”

Doc Thompson goes on to highlight that: “When you speak, you are a mouthpiece, a representative. You do not represent your own ego.” This is often a tough thing to grasp for some younger (and even older!) people coming into the workforce.

Doc Thompson continues: “Every time you open your mouth, you represent the boss, whether that is the chief of police, the mayor, the company president or CEO, or whoever.” Doc Thompson taught the Art of Representation as part of a comprehensive method of Conflict Communication. It equally applies here as simply how we ought to behave when we work for an organization.

Egotists find this exceptionally difficult, claiming that they have the right to speak their mind, no matter how potentially xenophobic, racist, or nasty they may be. And perhaps they do have this right to a degree. But of course, their employer also has the right and ability to discipline them if what the egotist is expressing does not represent what the organization deems appropriate for itself. We know countless examples of this in which employees get themselves into trouble by their obsession with social media.

As Doc Thompson is quick to point out, “we” should essentially disappear, in terms of our ego, when we are representing our organization. This is a major teaching point in Conflict Communication. “We” are ambassadors of the organization and, as such, we leave our ego at home in order to represent how the organization wishes to be represented. Organizations have the right to make any rules about themselves. When we voluntarily work for them, there is a reciprocal relationship whereby we should represent them and they pay us, create good working conditions, etc. It’s a deal, a voluntary deal.

Verbal Judo teaches us that: “The more ego you show, the less power you have over people.” And of course, this is a problem, as we (Contact Professionals) are seeking to generate in others their voluntary compliance, cooperation, or collaboration. As Doc Thompson said: “When ego goes up, power and control go down.” Think about that the next time someone in your agency thinks his/her cockiness is cool and admirable. It’s not. Think about the next time someone in agency or organization does not show others dignity and respect. Watch how the other person begins getting escalated. It’s a safety issue.

Doc Thompson shared with us: “Egotists only create conflict. The great communicators put their egos behind them and put the purpose and goal of communication before them. Nobody likes people whose personalities intrude.” In reference to the article linked in this post, egotists also create issues for their organizations and themselves.

In today’s society, anytime we act on anything that connects us doctrinally with views embraced by those who actively or passively wish to diminish the lives of others, we put ourselves out there as allies to those forces. We then intentionally or unwittingly serve those forces, serve with those forces, and are of course, are connected in the minds of others with those forces. This includes our organizations and agencies the leadership of which may just seek to get you off their ship.

At the end of every single moment, everything, absolutely everything, is about becoming a better human being.

Let us now represent well our organizations by remembering what to leave at home.


Note: All quotes of Dr. George Thompson are from the highly recommended Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion, Updated Edition.

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