Reputation And The Urgent Change In Attitude for Companies

By Rogério Artoni

Almost every communications professional has read somewhere that the communications process consists of, generally speaking, a receiver and a sender. Moreover, almost everybody is also familiar with the studies performed by professor Albert Mehrabian, where he argues that the communication between two people consists of the following parts: the context of words (7%), the tone of voice (38%) and the body language (55%). Although this study is rejected by many professionals, the necessity to work out verbal and nonverbal communication is a point of agreement among, basically, all professionals.

When communication is established between two people, a language adjustment is required so that the message is perceived and understood to the fullest. If a full professor must explain topics of his/her research to a group of seven-year-olds, he/she inevitably has to adapt the verbal and nonverbal language. If that does not occur, the perception of the transmitted message will probably be totally compromised.

When we transpose this information into the communication relationship of a company and its stakeholders, in which the company is the sender, and the audience of interest is the receiver, I always ask myself: how could we apply the Meharabian theory into this sort of communication? If we set aside the previously mentioned percentages, how could we transpose verbal communication (the content of words) and nonverbal language, represented by the tone of voice and the “body language” of the company?

The verbal communication of a company would occur through its whole communication, internal and external. In order to exemplify, I would consider internal communication, in this case, all platforms that communicate to employees and outsourced workers, from bulletin boards to the company’s communication apps, exchange of internal emails, announcements, stickers next to the light switch, intranet, communication in name badges and even signposts.

Now, in external communication, I would mention press releases, executive’s quotes in a report, all social media posts, email marketing, exchange of emails, advertisement, folders and commercial material, slogan, packaging of a product, the content of a website or corporate blog, the sustainability report and even the posts of employees on social media. To sum up, all that is written “by” the company or in its behalf and targets a group of people composed not exclusively by employees.

When we transpose nonverbal communication between two people to this same sort of communication between company and stakeholders, we must picture the actions of the company themselves. That means the manners in which support is given by the costumer service center, the resolution of problems, the timing of response, the quality of the product, the handling with service providers, the renewals of supplier contracts by the purchasing sector, improper practice of publicity, illegit relationships with politicians, the personal relationship between employees and their managers, relationships between employees and suppliers, the relationship with journalists and influencers, precautions with the environment, the company’s social projects, among further activities performed by the company.

Inside many areas, there is always great attention with verbal and nonverbal communication IN companies, but the need of care within the verbal and nonverbal communication OF companies remain urgent. If we have inconsistency between the manner in which the company verbally communicates and its actions, the reputation will be fatally compromised. A company might, for instance, have a high level internal communication, win prizes, but mistreat suppliers, employees and not respect basic compliance issues.

One of the greatest challenges of the communications field, besides showing its strategic worth, is trying to reduce the gap between the way companies want to be seen and how they are actually perceived by the their stakeholders. To this end, they change how they communicate with their public, spend millions in consultancies, but forget to focus on the inside of the company, their operations, their processes and, mostly, on the behaviour of the people that operate inside the company. Above all, they forget to evaluate whether verbal and nonverbal communication are going through the same path, the same direction and, therefore, forming a good reputation.