Chapter 7How to Communicate

COMMUNICATION IS THE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION AND ideas from one individual to another. In its simplest forms, it involves a sender conveying something to a recipient. A manager sticks her head into her sales manager's office and delivers a directive, shoots an e-mail to her executive assistant, or sends a memo to her product development team. Done.

Sounds simple, right? Think again.

Brewing under the surface of this operation is a boatload of potential for trouble. Effective communication, after all, only takes place if the recipient understands the data that the sender intended to transmit. And there are numerous examples of corporate initiatives that failed for no more reason than a stumble in communication.

Communication Rules

Though it might not be immediately apparent, managers actually spend the bulk of their days communicating. A 1991 study concluded that conventional communication takes up between 70 and 90 percent of leaders' time every day. Add cellphones, e-mails, texting, and tweeting to the mix and the numbers soar.

The ability to communicate effectively is, arguably, the most important ingredient in a business leader's fortunes. Lots of research singles out excellent communication skills in a review of exactly what it takes to achieve success and be promoted in an organization. Recent studies in communication at MIT looked at linear and rich media communication and found that most extroverts preferred “rich media.” This is identified ...

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