Communication is important in every organization, be it internal or external. Among other things, a workplace thrives on an effective marketing campaign, providing useful and relevant information to the customers, maintaining a strong online presence, and conducting effective business meetings, which are all important aspects of communication. In this era of social media, the significance of communication is more than ever, with an increased focus on content and user experience. Often, organizations do not pay much attention to this important aspect and lack a dedicated communications team, leading to inconsistencies in communication strategies, user manuals, and information design. A communications expert, in such a case, will help in understanding the users’ perspective and ensure uniformity in all content, thus presenting a consistent image of the company. Jennifer Arvin Furlong, Communication Skills Coach, Motivational Speaker, and founder of Communication TwentyFourSeven, LLC, has been helping small and large organizations solve their communication issues with her specialized skills.
Jennifer had a traumatic childhood, and coming from a broken home, she learned to grow up very quickly. Feeling the need for a structure, a solid foundation for her life, she joined the US Marine Corps at the age of 18, where she became the first woman Marine to serve as editor for the Quantico Sentry newspaper and went on to receive the Sergeant Major Dan Daly Award and the Best Feature Writer by the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association. Following her time in the military, she went on to get a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in communication from George Mason University. Her stint with the military piqued her interest in communication and led her to gain more knowledge on the subject.
Jennifer stumbled into her second career in higher education during her graduate program due to a chance teaching opportunity. With three decades of experience in the communication field, she has worked professionally as a communication specialist, a journalist, an editor, a community relations liaison officer, a director, and a media analyst. For almost 17 years, she taught courses in basic human communication, public speaking, business communication, and intercultural communication as a college professor. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in English Language and Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham.
As much as she loved the classroom, Jennifer wanted to get out there and be of service to the world in general. She then decided to focus on organizations, especially after a global health crisis threw professional life off gear and people were just getting back to work, and communication gained much importance.
Jennifer created Communication TwentyFourSeven in 2021 out of the desire to help organizations manage their most difficult communication challenges. As a Corporate Communication Coach and Consultant, she works closely with institutional leaders to create and execute short-term and long-term strategic communication projects for internal audiences. Through tailored communication training programs, Jennifer’s company helps organizations create positive and productive work environments by improving employee morale and relationships.
A very important criterion that Jennifer stresses is the importance of listening to communicate effectively. People think that a good communicator is one who can talk well. On the contrary, a good communicator needs to be a good listener. The message sent may not be the message received; hence listening is one of the most important skills that need to be developed. Listening is an intentional act, and one must focus and pay attention to process and understand the message properly.
In addition to workplace development, Jennifer also provides insights on individual professional development. With options of in-person as well as virtual consultations, the company can help organizations create a dynamic and effective workforce by improving their communication skills. “We help workers develop communication skills, learn how to identify different styles and adapt to them, give and receive effective feedback, power of mindful listening, conflict management and resolution. Our carefully curated programs are tailored to help them find their voice and learn to use it to impact the world around them through effective communication,” Jennifer said.
In 2017, Jennifer gave a Ted Talk throwing more light on the “The Platinum Rule”. She believes that many people understand the tenet of “The Golden Rule”, which is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated. Various forms of this rule have been found in most religions and creeds through the ages, testifying to its universal applicability. While all that is great advice for children, as we grow older, our lives and relationships become more complicated, and this rule may just not add any value. The Platinum Rule suggests treating others the way they want to be treated. It requires us to put our ego in the backseat and focus on the other person.
Jennifer’s Communication TwentyFourSeven podcast is an extension of her company. She started off by giving short tidbits on communication topics and moved on to interviewing other people to know more about their stories. Her recent podcast, which is yet to come out, is with an artist who has created a lot of art that is focused on the beauty and humanity of Black people. Jennifer believes different stories need to be heard as communication in any form is very important in all aspects of life.
Jennifer is also the author of “Mini-Handbook for Jackasses: Communication and Relationships”. A fast read, the book covers topics including the Golden Rule myth, listening skills, social media landmines, and freedom of speech. Jennifer believes that words are like food, you can either use them like poison or nourish yourself. The book explores how humans now use technology as a substitute for other humans in their lives. Instead of communicating with the real version, they have become accustomed to communicating with the screen version, thus leading to the deterioration of interpersonal communication skills.
The Road Ahead
Jennifer wishes to keep talking, communicating, and authoring more books in the coming times to impact the world in a positive way. She also has a few pieces of advice for women out there. “Sometimes, women find themselves in situations where they might feel isolated and, therefore, not understand the workplace. In such a case, reach out to different communities and start networking to not feel alone. Also, be mindful of the news you are consuming to avoid bias. Look at a variety of sources to gain more perspectives. Do not be afraid of challenges and open your mind to alternate viewpoints. It will only make you strong and prepare you to be the voice that challenges the status quo,” Jennifer said while speaking with WomLEAD Magazine.
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