What Kanye and Taylor Can Teach Us About Effective Communication
Trill or Not Trill?

I was in my own world, attempting to be dope this weekend. It’s the summer. Rooftops, views and awesome people everywhere. I’m riding the rails like the full fledged city boy that I am doing what everyone else is trying to do. Catch some legendary Pokemon on the way to the spot. (Yea it got me too) By now you’ve stopped trying to catch Pokemon long enough to hear about the conversation between Kanye West and Taylor Swift regarding the the song “Famous” on his album, The Life of Pablo, videotaped by none other than (GASP) Kim Kardashian. Seriously, who else would it be, but I digress. To make things even better, we received a full fledged Instagram post reply from the breakup queen Ms. Swift herself. Sifting through the drama we’ll find a few quotes containing some poignant lessons on communication that will aid us on our journeys to learn, lead, and leave legacies.

TS: “Umm, yeah I mean go with whatever line you think is better. It’s obviously very tongue in cheek either way. And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice.”

KW: “Oh yeah, I just had a responsibility to you as a friend you know, and I mean thanks for being so cool about it.”

KW: “Relationships are more important than punch lines, ya know?”

  1.  The Relationship is Important

The entire conversation between Kanye and Taylor took place because Kanye wanted to make sure that his future plans did not put his friendship/relationship with Taylor in jeopardy. A successful leader understands how to create, nurture and sustain relationships in order for everyone’s potential success to be met. If you have a proposed program that you want to implement but you believe it may not be received well by certain parties, reach out and start a dialogue. Explain your vision and keep an open mind in the event that you need alter your plan. A good leader will prevent fires, not start them.


KW recites  the “Famous” lyric: “To all my southside n—– that know me best, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.”
TS: “I’m like this close to overexposure.”
KW: “Oh, well this I think this a really cool thing to have.”
TS: “I know, I mean it’s like a compliment, kind of.”

  1. Full Disclosure

In this quote we find Kanye telling Taylor the content of the of the lyric he believes would cause the most trouble (We’ll get back to this in a moment). Surprising, she takes it pretty well. Full disclosure is an effective tool in communication because  it fosters a sense of trust between the two parties. Imagine that while talking to the group that might be offended by your program content, you decide not to share the complete program to secure their consent. Now during your program, not only will they be insulted, they will also see you as untrustworthy; shady even. Your credibility and integrity as leader might be your two most important assets. Do not allow those to be damaged.

This however is where the narrative changes for everyone. Enter the Wrath of Swift, wrought via instagram post. Two parts of that message should stick out to us.

TS: “Where in the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me ‘that b—-”’ in his song? It doesn’t exist because it never happened. You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that b—-‘ in front of the entire world,”

Here is where it seems Kanye didn’t follow the rule of full disclosure and effectively ruined  this healthy conversation. Within trying to foster a continuing  relationship with business partners, vendors, employees, peers,  etc. withholding information has always been self sabotage.


TS: “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.”

  1. The Conversation Cannot Be Undone

Inevitably, as with all things pop culture/reality, there’s going to be some crow on the side to go along with the discourse. Here we find Taylor Swift reacting to a different set of grudges against Kanye’s record after it seems that she was ok with the lyrical content she reacted to when the song first released. Within the realm of good leadership Taylor Swift has set a poor example and her integrity and credibility have taken the hit.  Once you enter into discourse to  create and/or build relationships, your full disclosure or lack thereof cannot be undone. Remember always that words have meaning whether or not they are just leaving your mouth, etched on a page or (SMH) unknowingly recorded on video. Successful leaders fully understand the weight that their words carry and deliver them with sincerity. Again, successful leaders fully understand the weight that their words carry and deliver them with sincerity. They are prepared to stand by them and not backtrack from them. That isn’t a suggestion. Remember that one come November.  

Shame Taylor Shame.

That being said, learn, lead and leave legacies. I’m back to this:


Soye Tom-George is a lover of all things education, sports and hip-hop. He is a former teacher and football coach that now works as Business Assistant at the Board of Education in Orange, NJ. Soye earned his degree and St.John’s University in Jamaica, NY (coachitom@gmail.com)

Twitter: @urbanepiphany
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