Smalltalk….

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and shouted out “I’m holding a party next Wednesday at 8pm please come” and then walked out again ? No I thought not ! It’s just plain weird isn’t it ? So why do people insist in social media spaces on consistently shouting out messages at the people that follow them ?  With no preamble or engagement I see many tweets that are “look at this” “do that” “go here” “read this about us” …. I hate to generalise but it is usually organisations who are running their latest campaign or other and seem far removed from just simply being human.

However I have noticed a change in a few accounts recently …  @theRCN and @6CsLive have, of late, found their human side.  It’s been wonderful and warming to see tweets from them that reach out and actually converse with people.  Whilst I understand that sometimes within social media we all have to broadcast a bit … Take this blog for example, you would never have got here if I had not tweeted “here’s my latest blog, come and take a look” however it’s sooooo important to add a bit of small talk in there too.

One of the best pieces of advice re social media I have ever come across is from The NMC “If there is any doubt about whether a particular activity online is acceptable, it can be useful to think through a real-world analogy” (of course we are days away from the release of an update of this, so this advice may disappear) I think that this not only applies to the nursing code of conduct but also to how we generally conduct ourselves within this space.  Would we walk into a room full of people and start shouting?

The only set of circumstances I can think of where this would be seen as normal were if you were a town crier.  Oh yay, oh yay !

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If it’s not “socially acceptable” to broadcast in real life it’s not in our virtual and social spaces either.

So what’s the answer ? Take a leaf out of @6CsLive and @theRCN book and bring on the smalltalk – say hello to people, get to know them, build relationships, share a joke, share a tear … Be human !

The end of a journey ?

The other day I walked out of meeting and the person I was with turned and said to me “Wow. who was that in there? Where did you learn all of that!” .. they were commenting on the way that I had been in the meeting and that I was much more confident than I was this time last year and that I seemed to have changed the way I work.  I have to admit to smiling and saying “That was Mary Seacole!”

Of course what I meant was that the change in me and in particular the confidence is all due to the NHS Leadership Academy’s Mary Seacole Programme .. which, over the past year, I have been utterly tearing my hair out over !!! It was a huge amount of work and at times I questioned both my intelligence and sanity, and I wholeheartedly thank my fab husband, Nick, for not only providing support but also tech help when my assignments were too big to send !!!! There can really be no doubt that Seacole has made a huge difference to the way I approach things and it has helped me immensely. I have found that with greater understanding around leadership and how it fits into my role I have gained greater confidence, courage, compassion, creativity and inspiration.

This week I was really very chuffed indeed to graduate from the Mary Seacole Programme,  it was wonderful to sit beside my fellow students and hear what they have done “since Seacole finished” and to collect my certificate.  Of course there was also the inevitable question – “What next?” …. I am not sure, but I do know that the more I learn the better I can be and the bigger difference I can make.  So even though the Mary Seacole Programme has well and truly ended now I’m pretty sure my journey has just started.

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No purpose, no point!

Last Friday I spent a day at Nottingham University with a small group of healthcare professionals from BAME Connect – a black, Asian and minority ethnic group.  Myself and Sarah Amani (@s_amani) were invited by Stacy Johnson (@misssdjohnson) to hold a workshop around the use of social media and how it can be used to connect, learn and support.

ID-10094437As a little bit of an ice breaker Sarah and I got the group to kick off the day by talking to each other and then introducing each other – you know the type of thing, great to get people chatting at the start of a day.  The first person to introduce the person sat next to him politely told us her name, and her job role and then said “and she doesn’t do all of this” (at which point he waved his hand in the general direction of computers and ipads) “as she thinks that often theres no purpose!” …….

(Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

sign-429419_1280Well time seemed to slow down and I think I must have visibly paled! The words “tough crowd” went through my mind …. But then both Sarah and I seemed to instinctively take the same approach …. We agreed with her !!! She was right ….. social media is pointless if it has no purpose.  There has to be a reason for organisations to engage and for people to engage otherwise, there has to be some sort of direction, otherwise its just time wasting.  Of course those reasons can be wide and diverse, from support to spreading a message and from learning to sharing cat pictures (lets hope less of the latter!) but purpose has to be defined and clear in our minds.

“Purpose” then set the tone to the whole day and we kept returning to it again and again and the day turned out to be one of the most wonderful workshops I have ever attended.  The group were one of the most engaging, sharing and supportive groups I have ever met ….. they already naturally had social media skills and it seemed that purpose was all they needed. Towards the end of the day they all signed up to twitter – and you will find their tweets if you search #BAMEconnect.  They are definitely a group to watch – inspiring, friendly and purposeful.

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