Tech leader Katrina German on “how to lead with kindness in your digital communications”

For many Saskatchewanians–indeed, many Canadians who simply use technology–the name Katrina German is synonymous with brilliance in the field. She has won numerous accolades, including the prestigious international “Women in Tech” award.

In a recent discussion on Canadian Lindsay Lapaquette’s “Workplace Communications Podcast,” Katrina substantiated her claim that we need to lead and communicate in marketing and online with “kindness” and empathy.

  • She asserts that digital communication is only ethical when it is inclusive, accessible for people with low literacy skills, includes women and assists women to participate in such underrepresented areas as venture capital.
  • Katrina reminds us that the algorithms that show us what we read online “very slowly shape the way we see the world and think about things.” Algorithms reduce the “grey” areas between black and white concepts by favouring inflammatory comments that polarize readers.  Subtlety and nuance are lost. Hardware and software can  “reduce opportunities for discussion, dialogue and conversation.”
  • “Ethical Digital,” the company for whom Katrina is CEO and Founder, has researched how internet use “can affect mental health, productivity, sleep, depression, and anxiety.”
  • Her team, based in the north end of the University of Saskatchewan campus,  argues for the need to “change how we communicate with each other and make it a lot healthier for other people.”
  • This is not simply a “feel-good,” “Kumbaya” kind of involvement, but contends that we need marketing and business to be “directly tied with what’s good for . . . . human beings.”
  • She says we need to have a major conversation around the need to remove “FOMO” (“Fear of Missing Out”) from marketing and to make creative changes to our language that refuse to “agitate consumers to buy out of discomfort,” the sense that they’re lazy or ignorant.
  • Sleep deprivation is a problem amongst tech users, and especially youth. So why not schedule your weekend or late night postings to get published during workday, daytime hours? –And not expect others to reply until then.
  • Among Katrina’s recommendations are to research the language and concepts behind our postings, so that we consider geographical differences in language that we may not know about (she cites terms like “gypsy,” “hacked out,” “yard sale,” and “smudging”). We need to apologize when we err, but also offer forgiveness to others when they make mistakes: perfection in language and thought isn’t realistic. But errors can be “opportunities for learning,” and should not be used for online shaming.
  • When we refuse to be fearful around language, but to be conscious of it and approach with a desire for human connection, success will follow. As Katrina closes:  “If you’re always coming at communication from the idea of connection, you’re probably going to win.”

Anyone in communication these days (and who isn’t?)  should definitely listen in: