As an industry our common pain point is the lack of talent. How often do we hear youngsters wanting to pursue a career in PR on the premise that they love talking to people. Wish it was that simple!

Being a good communicator is considered to be the most essential skill to be successful in PR and ironically, many of us fail miserably at communicating or rather communicating properly. My favourite dialogue to younger colleagues has always been –

We are in the business of communication and if we are unable to communicate right, then we have no reason to be in this profession.

So, what does it take to be a good communicator? Curious people tend to have an active mind. To make that mind stronger and alert, the mind muscle needs to be exercised continuously. If you practise yoga, you will understand the importance of flexing every muscle. Mental exercise generated because of curiosity makes the mind stronger. With curiosity, comes observations and new ideas and thoughts. A whole world of creative possibilities surface when you challenge the status quo. There is nothing as a boring client. With creativity, we can infuse a fresh approach to the mundane.

Often we hear a colleague say – “We’ve always done it this way. Why change things now?” No! Do not shy away from experimenting with new and innovative solutions. And that will be possible only if you have an inquisitive mind. Be open to learning, unlearning, and relearning. Learn about a new journalist or a new column or a new speaking opportunity – it does not always have to be client-centred. Learning about a new trend, or a new restaurant … even twitter trends … the idea is to keep absorbing, keep learning. Follow the “One new thing a day” rule.

Some things you know and believe in, may just be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and bring in a change. The trick lies in asking questions relentlessly, thinking different angles and looking for answers through questions. And please, do not accept that client brief without trying to dig deeper. What, why, when, who, where, and how need to be your best friends always. Have a discussion and don’t just be a receiver.

An inquisitive mind is the first step towards developing strategic thinking!

  • Curiosity makes you observant. You tend to notice more, know more, are able to spot trends. It is not just about finishing the task at hand. Keep sight of the big picture. A strong understanding of the industry, business drivers, help you integrate the information skilfully in your suggestions to clients.
  • Remember, you have to constantly employ your mind. Be a voracious reader. Reading does not just enhance your knowledge, but it also stimulates your analytical thinking skills.
  • Asking questions can help develop better problem-solving skills, retention and grasping power of the subject or situation. Brain games and puzzles too come handy in developing strategic thinking.
  • Practice your problem-solving skills. Next time you are asked to work on the strategy, work on two or three possible solutions. Critically analyse the expected outcome and then zero in on the most appropriate. Weigh the pros and cons. Think rationally, making analytics the backbone of your thinking.

If you are well informed, you tend to be more curious and synthesise the information given to you more analytically; explore different points of view; assess new possibilities and approaches and perhaps even different potential outcomes. To sum up, with inquisitiveness comes the power to understand better, sharpened reflexes (the mind muscle) and innovative solutions.

 

Originally appeared in Reputation Today.