Dumbo Wasn’t Dumb: What communicators can learn from elephants

In doing a bit of research, I realized we – as counselors and communicators – have a lot to learn from elephants. 

By: Lauren Parker, President and CEO 

TikTok recently blessed my FYP with this video of an elephant gently returning a child’s shoe that had fallen into a zoo enclosure. I was reminded of how much I love these majestic animals, and in doing a bit of research, I realized we – as counselors and communicators – have a lot to learn from them. 

They demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities. 

Several years ago, researchers discovered elephants were capable of insightful problem-solving. When in the proper circumstances, elephants are able to have “aha” moments. Problem-solving is critical to our work as communicators. We’re often tasked with solving big business challenges, and our problem-solving skills can help us propel the organization forward.

They are able to take in information and learn new behaviors.

As communicators (and especially at an agency), we have to deeply understand many industries. This requires us to quickly learn new information to develop strong marketing and communication campaigns. At Slide Nine, we thrive off learning new information. This is why we have Slack channels devoted to sharing work hacks, inspiration, trends and other useful information. 

They use tools to complete tasks they can’t do on their own.

This is a big one. Being able to leverage tools is more important than ever in our industry. As communicators, scalability is critical to the effectiveness of our work. Tools can help create operational efficiencies allowing us to focus on higher-level, more strategic tasks. For example, our team uses Talkwalker, a listening software, to help us catch in-the-moment social media and media mentions for our clients.

They are capable of a range of emotions including joy, playfulness, anger and grief.

It’s important to build a culture where employees can bring their whole selves to work. We recognize that everyone is complex and can be experiencing a lot in and outside of work. At our agency, we focus on giving our team time away, opportunities to stretch their imagination and in-person retreats to connect with one another. 

They have a sense of humor.

It’s okay to enjoy yourself at work. There’s nothing I enjoy more than when I come into the office and hear the team collaborating. Every month, we host an agency-wide meeting and there’s usually quite a few laughs. Creativity requires outside-the-box thinking, and a little humor can allow you to view your work from a different angle. 

As you prepare for your next big project, don’t forget to channel your inner elephant.