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Top Three Communications Essentials from Mr. Rogers

I was - and am - a big fan of #MrRogers. A big fan. I had four Mr. Rogers albums, which was a big deal in the 70's. I just loved him, and I am really excited about the movie coming out this week, #abeautifuldaymovie. I will absolutely be in the theatre to see it, and I'm bringing Kleenex. I've been thinking a lot about my childhood friend this week, and it occurs to me he laid the foundation of my career today. Here are the three most important effective communication fundamentals I learned from Mr. Rogers.

Be Authentic.

Mr. Rogers was not a character on TV. He was Fred Rogers. There's a wonderful clip in the movie when #LloydVogel asks Mr. Rogers about the character he plays on television versus his real life. "I don't understand the question," Mr. Rogers replies. It's a critical lesson for all of us, but especially those of us in the communications profession. Our audiences and customers expect authenticity today, it creates a more powerful brand, it inspires stronger loyalty and ultimately it results in more effective communications.

Photo credit: AP

Explain, define and repeat.

Mr. Rogers was a genius at breaking down complex ideas so children would understand them. Crew members jokingly called his technique "#Freddish," and it incorporated a number of rules to ensure preschoolers would hear and understand his lessons. His ideas are perfect for anyone trying to communicate a message - internally or externally. The basic lessons for us? Keep it simple, be positive, and tie the message to your greater purpose, mission or business goal.

Know your audience.

Mr. Rogers knew his audience, and he never, ever - not once - talked down to us. He spoke to us as children, but made us feel important, and equal, and valid. And that may be the most important lesson of all. Understand the perspective of your audiences - see, read and hear your communication as they will. Never assume they know or believe something they may not, and always tell the truth.

I could write for hours about everything I loved about Mr. Rogers and how so many of his lessons have stayed with me these many years. I've been shocked to realize how his example has inspired me professionally, and it's given me a new perspective on my career and how I hope to continue to grow as a professional.

Can you say, grateful?


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