EppsNet Archive: Communication

Some Links on Listening


Are you a good listener? Find out (Quiz) Psychology Today, “Listening Skills Test.” Are you a good listener? Find out (Quiz) Mind Tools, “How Good are Your Listening Skills? Understanding Someone’s Entire Message.” Active listening and attending behaviors (Video) “Active Listening: Katie Owens at TEDxYouth@Conejo,” YouTube video, posted by “TEDx Talks,” 3:18, January 21, 2013. Getting past roadblocks to effective listening (Video) “Listening and Its Enemies: Avi Kluger: TEDxLaçador,” YouTube video, posted by “TEDx Talks,” 17:20, May 29, 2015. Good leaders ask questions and listen thoroughly (Article) Chris Baréz-Brown, “3 Habits of Humble Yet Effective Leaders,” Fast Company, October 26, 2015. Six stories from StoryCorps, where people share stories from their lives (Video) The Rauch Brothers, “Listening Is an Act of Love,” StoryCorps via POV video, 22:36, November 28, 2013. Read more →

Some Links on Effective Communication


Busting myths on gender differences in the brain (Article) Nora Caplan-Bricker, “The Idea of a ‘Male Brain’ and a ‘Female Brain’ Is Likely a Myth,” Slate, November 2, 2015. Challenges and strategies for creating safe communication spaces at work (Article) James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris, “Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely?,” Harvard Business Review, vol. 94, no. 1 (January/February 2016): p. 80-87. Communication comes in all shapes and sizes (Video) Nancy Lublin, “Texting That Saves Lives,” TEDvideo, 5:24, February 2012. Do men and women communicate differently? (Article) Deborah Cameron, “What Language Barrier?,” The Guardian, October 1, 2007. Find out the meaning behind emojis (Website) “Emojipedia.” Game-changing communication developments (Article) Amber Leigh Turner, “5 Trends Disrupting Communication,” TNW News. How the medium of communications can change what we say (Article) “Tweets From Mobile Devices Are More Likely to Be Egocentric,” International Communications Association press release, October 1, 2015. Leaders can change their power… Read more →

Management Tips From the Pros: Put the Best Employees on the Drive-Thru Window


If you manage a fast food restaurant and you’re reading this, I beseech you to put your best employees at the drive-thru window to mitigate problems that wouldn’t arise in a face-to-face transaction. For example, I drove through Del Taco today for lunch . . . after the obligatory “Hi, welcome to Del Taco, would you like to try our new Queso Something-or-other,” I said “No, thank you, I’d like a Spicy Grilled Chicken Burrito and a large Coke Zero.” “Would you like a churro or something sweet for dessert?” “No but thanks for asking.” “OK, your total is . . .” After several seconds of silence, I decided to pull forward, give her some time to work through the math, and get the total at the window. After I’d gone about 10 feet, I heard her say “Wait, you wanted a burrito?” The car behind me hadn’t moved up,… Read more →

How to Talk to Anyone: 6 Rejoinders for All Occasions


You’ve got no one to blame but yourself. Just like a typical [man/woman]. I can read you like a book. Why? Because I said so. Who’s sorry now? If I were you, I’d . . . Read more →

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of


Recruiters who write job descriptions with requirements like this: Great Communication – must be able to speak very clear Read more →

Tips for Effective Visualizations


I’m taking a Social Network Analysis class on Coursera . . . The first week’s lecture included advice from Edward Tufte on visualization and graphic design. I thought I’d already posted this a couple of years ago after attending a Tufte course, but after further review, I see that I haven’t, so here it is.   The success of a visualization is based on deep knowledge and care about the substance, and the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. Tufte: Five Principles in the Theory of Graphic Design Above all else show the data. Maximize the data-ink ratio, within reason. Erase non-data ink, within reason. Erase redundant data-ink. Revise and edit. Read more →

Osmotic Communication


Does it take you 30 seconds or less to get your question to the eyes or ears of the person who might have the answer?   Osmotic communication means that information flows into the background hearing of members of the team, so that they pick up relevant information as though by osmosis. This is normally accomplished by seating them in the same room. Then, when one person asks a question, others in the room can either tune in or tune out, contributing to the discussion or continuing with their work. […] When osmotic communication is in place, questions and answers flow naturally and with surprisingly little disturbance among the team. — Alistair Cockburn Read more →



What actions you take, you believe in. What commitments you make, you keep. What resources you have, you use. What words you say, you believe to be true. What you create, you intend to be great. — Jim and Michele McCarthy Read more →

The Safety to Express Ideas


Teams must intentionally create an environment where it is safe to express all ideas. — Jim McCarthy Read more →

Presenting Data and Information


Looking over my notes from an Edward Tufte course . . . Details lead to credibility. Every paragraph, chart, etc., should lend credibility to your argument and give your audience a reason to believe. Great design disappears; it gives itself up to the content. There’s no “right way” to display data. Try a few different approaches. Tables are often better than graphics. Don’t get it original, get it right. Don’t underestimate your audience. Don’t pander or patronize. Read more →

Communication Bandwidth


As I’m writing this article, I’m trying to formulate ideas, understandings, and experiences into words. When you read this article, you try to understand what I’m saying within the context of your experiences. In the process of narrowing my bandwidth to words, and you trying to expand the bandwidth from words to your understanding, a lot is lost. No matter how well I write and you read. And, most of us are not superb writers and readers. — Ken Schwaber Read more →

Crucial Conversations


I know my son had a history test today, and that history is a make-or-break class for him. I want to ask him about the test but we’re having a delicious family meal at Olive Garden and I don’t want to break up the festive mood in the event the news turns out to be bad. I decide to ease into it with some small talk . . . “So, how was recess today?” o_O (BLANK STARE) I continue, “I know you had a history test today but rather than get right into that, I thought we could start with some small talk about recess.” He says, “I haven’t had recess since 6th grade.” “Oh. In that case, how was the history test?” Read more →

No One Listens to Me


My wife is on the warpath this morning . . . “Can you believe this?” she says to no one in particular. “I hate that printer. I’m throwing it away. It ran out of ink again! I’m trying to print something and now I have to go buy more ink!” So I say, “You print a lot of documents. Do you get rid of your car when it runs out of gas?” “Oh I can’t wait to throw away that printer,” she says, storming off . . . Read more →

The Downside of Effective Communication


What I re-learned in Crucial Conversations class is that you can have “better” conversations with people if you’re able to control your initial emotional reactions and apply some learnable communication skills. I say “re-learned” because I got the same takeaway years ago from reading How to Win Friends and Influence People and Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. And while it’s been my experience that these techniques really do work, I haven’t used them as much I could have because they also seem to take a lot of the zest out of being alive. For example: Several years ago, we had an electrical problem at the house, where we weren’t getting power in any of the front rooms. My wife was home when the electrician came out — I was at work — and he fixed the problem in five minutes. When I got home, she was unhappy… Read more →

You Don’t Say


One of our exercises in Crucial Conversations training was to “think of a person who is really frustrating to work with,” and to describe in writing a recent interaction with that person in terms of what was actually said, and what you were thinking or feeling but didn’t say. My responses included the following: What I Actually Said This project presents some unique challenges. What I Didn’t Say I have a lot of experience managing IT projects, but not in running a day care center or a mental institution, which is what this project requires. What I Actually Said That’s not quite the way I would have phrased it. What I Didn’t Say Everyone else in these meetings seems to feel constrained by a sense of professionalism and decency that you appear not to possess. One of my colleagues at our table of four claimed that based on those responses,… Read more →

How to Destroy Creativity


Always pretend to know more than anybody else Police your employees by every procedural means Have your professionally-trained staff members do technicians’ work for long periods of time Erect the highest possible barrier between commercial decision-makers and your technical staff Don’t speak to employees on a personal level, except when announcing raises Be the exclusive spokesman for everything for which you are responsible Say yes to new ideas, but do nothing about them Call many meetings Put every new idea through channels Worry about the budget Cultivate the not-invented-here syndrome — via MIT OpenCourseWare Read more →