Friday, September 4, 2009, 3:40 PM

Pictures speak a thousand words

(Credit: Associated Press)
Legislators in Connecticut were reminded this week of an important lesson in communications: it's not just what you say, it's what people see and hear.

The Associated Press snapped this embarrassing photo of two legislators playing solitaire and another scanning the sports page online during high-stakes budget debates. The photo has sparked days of controversy in Connecticut and garnered national cable TV attention.

Fueling the taxpayers ire was the fact that legislators were debating substantial tax increases and budget cuts to key services at the time. Naturally, the perception that elected leaders are tuned out during such a debate is not a good one. The fact all three legislators are declining comment days later doesn't help either.

It's not the first time someone has let their guard down at the wrong time. Recall our previous post about Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. The lesson? Effective communication does not end with your prepared remarks. Smart communicators are always aware of their environment, particularly in an age where we are never quite alone in public. One inappropriate comment or action can be caught on a cell phone camera or "reported" on Twitter by a bystander. Like them or not, those are the new rules. If we want to avoid our own "solitaire" moment, we are best served to follow them.

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Blogger Henry Fawell said...

Here's another example of a person of prominence forgetting that we are never quite alone in public:

September 10, 2009 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Henry Fawell said...

Yet another example of a prominent figure (President Obama) forgetting that what you say in private can soon become public:

September 16, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

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