I plan to write a series of posts about addressing the diversity of people when communicating.
I use “diversity” here to mean much more than racial or ethnic variety. What more I mean will be disclosed over the series.
For a framework, lets take the goal of communicating our intended meaning to all or our readers or listeners or viewers. That may be a goal that can never be reached. It would require uniformity and humanity expresses diversity.
In the fields of architecture and design, there is a movement called Universal Design. Here is the description offered by the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University:
“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.
“The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities.
Wikipedia defines Universal Design”
Wikipedia offers these principles for Universal Design:
- Equitable use
- Flexibility in use
- Simple and intuitive
- Perceptible information
- Tolerance for error
- Low physical effort
- Size and space for approach and use
So the series I will offer will explore the multitudinous diversity in people that we must address to do our best to reach universal communication.
The advice below is taken from an interview with Laura Morgan Roberts in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge website called “Creating a Positive Professional Image“
Put your mind to what your image communicates about you and how that affects your message:
Be the author of your own identity.
Take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your image:
Identify your ideal state.
- What are the core competencies and character traits you want people to associate with you?
- Which of your social identities do you want to emphasize and incorporate into your workplace interactions, and which would you rather minimize?
Assess your current image, culture, and audience.
- What are the expectations for professionalism?
- How do others currently perceive you?
Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for image change.
- Do you care about others’ perceptions of you?
- Are you capable of changing your image?
- Are the benefits worth the costs? (Cognitive, psychological, emotional, physical effort)
Use strategic self-presentation to manage impressions and change your image.
- Employ appropriate traditional and social identity-based impression management strategies.
- Pay attention to the balancing act—build credibility while maintaining authenticity.
Manage the effort you invest in the process.
- Monitoring others’ perceptions of you
- Monitoring your own behavior
- Strategic self-disclosure
- Preoccupation with proving worth and legitimacy
This tip sheet is from a course in writing for government at the University of Victoria–home of British Columbia’s provincial government–that will serve you well for general purposes.
I followed its advice when writing a press release for a federal government department and found the result too clear and readable for the current government’s preferences.
Here is a statement that sums up:
“Remember, the aim of the press release is to have the greatest impact with the fewest words.”
Are you motivated to know more after reading the press release below? The headline for this release mentioned communication pitfalls, so I read this, but it turns out to be an example of poor communication.
“MADHAVAN NAYAR is company leader of INFOGIX, INC., the leading provider of Information Integrity solutions: “With the advent of the Internet, there has been a paradigm shift in the way companies communicate with their customers and deliver customer service. Considering there is such a wealth of information, such advanced technology offerings and such powerful communication capabilities available, why is it that so many of us feel that we are overcharged, underserved and taken for a ride? Why is it that so many organizations deliver such mediocre service and, as a result, stagnate, fail and get overrun by their smarter competitors?” To help companies understand how to avoid these pitfalls in the future, Nayar can explain how to align, focus and mobilize people, processes and products to become customer-driven, so the company can profitably grow and create value. Nayar can also provide expert insight into Information Integrity, highlighting the importance that organizations assure the accuracy, consistency and reliability of their critical information.”