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What Ben Bernanke Knows About Communication

Federal Reserve
Creative Commons License photo credit: skpy

What does Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke know about communicating that others don’t? In a recent article for Harvard Business, leadership consultant John Baldoni writes that it is Bernanke’s willingness “to speak last”. In Baldoni’s article “How to Communicate Like Ben Bernake” the author notes:

Bernanke, who established his academic credentials by researching and writing about the Great Depression, is first and foremost, as E.J. Dionne noted in the same interview, a straightforward speaker — people understand him. Bernanke, according to Brooks, also worked hard during the financial crisis to keep discussions going, even calling people back after a meeting to follow up. In this way, Bernanke seems more a legislator, one who works with peers, than an executive, one who dictates.

Baldoni recommends the following tips to keep conversation flowing:

Open up. If you want to keep discussion going, you should keep talking. If the topic is critical to the future of the company, throw out your calendar. Meet with your colleagues, even those who don’t agree with you, until you come to consensus, even if it’s only an agreement to keep talking. (Mediators employ this technique to help resolve disputes between adversaries.)

Give (a little) up. The secret to good conversation is give and take. Those who feel the need to impose their will gain little by talking. Those who want to reach consensus learn how to make concessions over small things to gain agreement over major issues. Dialogue is essential to facilitating that process.

Follow up. Important matters are seldom resolved with a single conversation or a single meeting. You will need to meet multiple times. Keep the dialogue going by following up with participants between meetings. The act of simple conversation can lead to greater understanding off issues and people.

You can read Baldoni’s entire article here.