Nine communications lessons from Game of Thrones Article icon


1.       If you’re doing good work, let the world know
Ned Stark was the most honourable man in Westeros but in staying strong and silent didn’t communicate that to the masses at King’s Landing. He allowed the Lannisters to control the narrative and so when Ned lost his head, the crowd at King’s Landing cheered. Even if the audience didn’t.

2.       Keep your promises
Though Robb Stark’s downfall may have been one of the most upsetting in the Game of Thrones’ universe, the King in the North was by no means faultless. After swearing an oath to marry a Frey, he wed someone from another family. If organisations likewise make a promise that they can’t keep, expect a backlash of similar, if less violent, proportions.

3.       Look after your followers
Daenerys Targaryen, widely accepted as the leading contender for the Iron Throne, shows compassion for her subjects and has won legions of followers and an army as a result. King Joffrey, on the other hand, showed nothing but contempt for his subjects and was poisoned at his own wedding. Those who look after their followers will achieve greater loyalty, and greater screen time, in the Seven Kingdoms.

4.       The North Remembers
Reputations can be destroyed or made on a single action. Only a fool would trust the Freys after what they did at the Red Wedding and Tyrion Lannister certainly feared retribution from his own family’s involvement in the massacre. Do something without conscience and rest assured, your name will be on the lips of every travelling minstrel from Oldtown to the Wall, and no one will trust you again.

5.       Valar Morghulis – All men must die
Or all leadership must change. Daenerys uttered these immortal words in Valerian when she overthrew the slave traders of Astapor. She wasn’t afraid to rock the boat in order to bring about change, so if you think there’s a better way to do something, speak up. It helps if you have dragons, of course.

6.       Network 
‘I try to know as many people as I can – you never know which one you’ll need,’ says Tyrion in series two. Whilst I wouldn’t advise using people for your own means, such as trial by combat, the message is nonetheless clear. Get to know people; you never know what doors they might open.

7.       Consume content
‘A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone’ is another pearl of wisdom from Tyrion, when asked by Jon Snow (who knows nothing) why he reads so much. Just as reading books sharpens the mind, consuming content other than your own breeds inspiration. And hey, if your mind gets sharp enough, you can start calling yourself the Kingsguard of Content. Though that would be embarrassing.

8.       Don’t get cocky
Cocky people don’t last long in Westeros, whether that’s Oberyn Martell or Viserys Targaryen. Oberyn was winning his fight against The Mountain but stopped to give a monologue, allowing his opponent the chance to (spoiler) gouge out his eyes. Viserys, on the other hand, angered his allies so much with his pomposity that said ally poured molten gold onto his head. The lesson? A little humility goes a long way.

9.       Hold the door
It’s okay to work your way up in a company but you shouldn’t leave others behind. Just as Hodor helped Bran achieve his destiny as the Three-Eyed Raven, you too should hold the door open for colleagues to achieve their greatest potential.