Broken Discussions

Nerd-to-English Book CoverA brief note: The “Nerd-to-English” book is now available in print and digital editions. Both are on sale at special prices at our online bookstore and are also available through Amazon.comThe following is a short excerpt from the book….

Broken Discussions

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
    ~ The Captain, from the movie Cool Hand Luke

When you don’t exactly understand someone or feel you aren’t completely understood, you’re in a broken discussion. And broken discussions are expensive. They are black holes for wasted time, lost money, missed opportunity, unnecessary distress, and unfair loss of credibility.

If you want to be more effective, all you have to do is ask yourself where you are falling short and what you’re going to do about it. And if you don’t want to be more effective with your business, you might as well put this book down right now.

We’ve all had those discussions or email exchanges with someone whom we did not understand. Was it our fault or theirs? In most cases, it was probably both. Can one person alone fix a broken discussion? No. However, one person can still improve the conversation and make the best of a one-sided attempt.

Communication is a skill, but it’s one almost everyone can improve. Those willing to learn and practice will improve. Those who keep communicating without awareness or change will keep getting what they’ve got and continue to miss out on what they’ve always missed. They will continue limiting themselves, and I include all of you who are already highly skilled in many areas, but who have yet realized that communication is another skill crucial to your success.

Now you may say that by talking and writing (emails, texts, posts, letters, etc.) each day, you are practicing this skill. Maybe, but probably not. You are more likely to be further ingraining bad communication habits. Practice does not make perfect if you are practicing something incorrectly.

Frequency has nothing to do with skill. “I write all the time,” doesn’t mean you write anything that makes good sense. More of us communicate more often with more people than ever in the history of our culture. For centuries, the average person communicated with only a handful of people every day, and almost always with speech and hand gestures. Now almost all of us interact with dozens or hundreds of people, often through the written word, something that few people use effectively.

There is no such thing as perfect communication, at least not until we master telepathy, so obviously I think the best we can do for now is work toward perfection. It’s pretty much the only option, since the alternative is doing the same old things the same old ways with the same old outcomes.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.