This week in Ottawa Elizabeth’s May, in a moment of inappropriate behavior, set her Green Party gains back years. Last week in Edmonton a ‘cabal’ of oil industry businessmen held a news conference to wag their fingers at voters admonishing them not to vote the way they were going to may undermine their personal authenticity for years to come. In a world where every utterance is instantly broadcast through social media, trust and credibility is built slowly but can be instantly lost. Those who express an organization’s moral code through behaviors, words and actions are more exposed now than ever.
There’s a lot of talk these days about trust building, especially by the oil and gas business. Trust building isn’t as intuitive as many may like to think. There are subliminal non-verbal cues that are now increasingly amplified under scrutiny in a video driven age. In Alberta, an overnight sea change in government was brought about less by what was said but how it was said. Rachel Notley’s non-verbal cues, amplified in video on both traditional and social media were as important as her verbal cues. Her composure, her body language, her tone of voice, how she appeared thoughtful, how she moved her eyes. These were all part of a package that built trust. On the other hand, stern or befuddled business women and men in suits just didn’t cut it.
The recipe for trust building is well researched, simple in description but complex in specific application. Empathic communications is at the core. The industry in Canada can learn a lot from Notley. It’s core competence of technical expertise is unrivaled in the world. But this ‘go to’ message is not enough. Trust is given when people begin to see candor through non-verbal behaviors that communicate a long-term commitment and dedication to their physical, social, environmental and financial safety. As content meets authenticity in a social media driven world every industry spokesperson or industry employee engaged with community stakeholders should take some time to watch themselves in action, learn from their mistakes and build on their strengths. When trust is at issue and concern is high, as much as 90% of trust building communications is non verbal. With so much at stake for the industry, it’s time to took another look at it’s own non-verbal behaviors.