Firstly, I would like to congratulate the organizing committee from both SANIRE and SAIMM on the recently presented AfriRock 2017 Conference in Cape Town. As in the metaphor of the calm duck on the pond, with feet kicking frantically under the surface, this event was no different. You will be able to read more on the event inside this edition of Rocktalk.
Following a series of events and responsibilities, I was again reminded of a piece I read a while back pertaining to the way people communicate, which I try to follow in my life as well. We are good in telling people what needs to be done; however, the moment we turn our back, nothing changes. We all live and die by the 5 rules concerning safety, but No. 5 – “Will they continue working safe when I leave?” – is seldom positively answered. After the time spent on presenting your case, it is business as usual. The answer as to why might be in the following ques- tion: Are you good as a presenter, or can you persuade people to change?
Here are some bases I try to cover in presentations to persuade people in changing course – “BIO”.
The first key is Brevity: You might be able to talk someone into buying, but if you keep on talking, you might talk the same person OUT of buying. In the movie, Jerry McGuire, at the end where he proposes to the girl who stood by him in his endeavours, explaining how lucky he is to have known her and that he is so grateful to have her in his life, let alone mentioning how he would be less of person when she leaves, she replied: “You had me at HALLO!” You need to know when to stop.
One should give enough information to get the conversation going, yet limit the facts to what is needed for the occasion.
Second to brevity is Identification to experience: Share your experience. It is best if you can share yours (first person), but sometimes you can reach into the “archives” and share other people’s experience (third person). With the stories comes emo- tion, which in most cases sells the product better. If people can relate to what you feel, they will more readily change the way they act.
If you ever were part of the production staff and you try real hard (although our brains are good at blocking out trauma), you might just remember how tough it was to juggle all the balls of responsibility. Remember what you did and the short cuts you took to achieve the daily blast. Try to recall what happened when you did not install that breakerline of support units, when you did not bar down the small piece on that brow. It does not even have to be as far back as that; it might even be as recent as the previous panel you visited. Relate that feeling to the crew with the necessary words and feeling, and you will win them over.
The third key I try to concentrate on is Ownership: Both you and I might be in the same life (time), yet we both live different lives. We need to realise that we are responsible for our own actions and the course which our lives take. The sooner one gets to realise that only you can do what is needed to change your conditions, the sooner the change will start. Michael Jack- son sings in his song, Man in the Mirror: “I’m looking at the man in the mirror, asking him to change his ways”. In our profes- sion, we should communicate the fact that although the Geotechnical Engineering Department might be responsible for all rock -related hazards and risks, the following and implementation of recommendations rest solely on the production staff. The stra- ta control observer can highlight the possible hazards; however, fixing the problem is the responsibility of the miner.
By applying these three principles in communication – brevity, experience and ownership – I would wish when I left that each member would experience effective presentation and persuasion for doing the right thing, with the right tools, at the right time.
As we are into the last month of 2017, I would also personally like to convey my greetings toward you and the family in this festive time of the year. May we all enjoy the fullness and appreciation of the Christmas season, and may 2018 bring along hap- piness, prosperity and health.