Print this page Share

Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It

ISBN: 978-1-119-01703-5
272 pages
March 2015
Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It  (1119017033) cover image


Get your message across the right way with clear communication

Message Not Received provides the tools and techniques that make an effective writer and public speaker. Particularly on topics related to data and technology, effective communication can present a challenge in business settings. This book shows readers how those challenges can be overcome, and how to keep the message from getting lost in the face of mismatched levels of knowledge, various delivery media, and the library of jargon that too often serves as a substitute for real, meaningful language. Coverage includes idea crystallization, the rapidly changing business environment, Kurzweil's law of accelerating change, and our increasing inability to understand what we are saying to each other. Rich with visuals including diagrams, slides, graphs, charts, and infographics, this guide provides accessible information and actionable guidance toward more effectively conveying the message.

Today, few professionals can ignore the tsunami of technology that permeates their lives, advancing far more rapidly that most of us can handle. As a result, too many people think that successful speaking means using buzzwords, jargon, and invented words that sound professional, but don't actually communicate meaning. This book provides a path through the noise, helping readers get their message across succinctly, efficiently, and effectively.

  • Adapt your approach for more effective communication
  • Learn the critical skill of crystallizing ideas
  • Tailor your style to the method of delivery
  • Ensure that your message is heard, understood, and internalized

It doesn't matter whether you're pitching to a venture capitalist, explaining daily challenges to a non-tech manager, or speaking to hundreds of people – jargon-filled word salad uses a lot of words to say very little. Better communication requires a different approach, and Message Not Received gives you a roadmap to more effective speaking and writing for any audience or medium.

See More

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables xv

Preface xvii

Part I Worlds Are Colliding

Introduction: The Intersection of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology 3

Subject: The Other Scourge of Business Communication 5

Technology and the Cardinal Importance of Business Communication 5

What’s the Big Whoop? 6

From Pencils to WhatsApp: A Little History Lesson 7

Book Overview and Outline 8

My Communication Bona Fides 17

Next 19

1 Technology Is Eating the World: The Dizzying Nature of Today’s Existence 21

Whoops 22

Accelerating Technological Change 25

The Rise of the Machines 28

Trailing the Goldfish: Our Declining Attention Spans 30

A Communications Revolution 31

The Age of the Entrepreneur 32

Disruption Is Cool 34

SEO, and the Really Long Tail 35

The Sliding Scale of Search 37

Google and the Never-Ending Jargon Train 40

Marketing Madness 41

Mobile Mania 44


The Rise of the Tech Celebrity 45

A New Body Politic 46

Other Trends 47

Next 48

Notes 48

2 The Increasingly Overwhelmed Employee: Is This Becoming the New Normal? 51

Mad Men No More 52

Abundant Leisure: Keynes Was Wrong 56

Drowning in Data 57

Demonizing the Tech Companies 59

The Limits of Technology’s Tentacles 60

A Different Kind of Workplace 61

Is Being Overwhelmed Even a Choice Anymore? 64

Next 69

Notes 70

Part II Didn’t You Get That Memo?: Why We Don’t Communicate Good at Work

3 What We Say: Examining Words at Work 73

Jargon: The Cause of So Much Noise 75

Beyond Jargon: Other Communication and Language Atrocities 90

Next 93

Notes 93

Appendix to Chapter 3 95

Notes 98

Part III Message Received

4 How We Say It: E-Mail Is Dead. Long Live E-Mail! 99

A Communications Dynasty: Explaining E-Mail’s Impressive Reign 102

E-Mail Nation 112

How We’re Working Isn’t Working 114

Next 125

Notes 125

5 Why Bad Communication Is Bad Business: The Unintended Consequences of Mixed and Missed Messages 127

One Size Does Not Misfit All 129

Message Not Received 130

Decreased Clarity, Credibility, and Trust 131

Lost Sales 131

Severed Relationships and Burnt Bridges 132

Poor Execution and Strategic Blunders 135

Lower Productivity 137

Inefficiency, Waste, and Severed Relationships 138

Increased Risk of Project Failure 139

Other Long-Term Employee Issues 141

Net Effect: A Vicious Cycle 142

Next 142

Notes 142

6 Don’t Call It a Paradigm: Guidelines for Effective Business Communication 145

Language 147

E-Mail 148

Selecting a Communications Medium 150

Handling the Fallout 150

Next 151

Notes 151

7 Words and Context: Building a Solid Communication Foundation 153

A Trip Down Memory Lane 154

The World of Words 155

Communication Context, Awareness, and Technique 165

Next 174

Notes 175

8 Life Beyond E-Mail: How Progressive Organizations Are Using New Tools to Enable More Effective Collaboration and Communication 177

Communication and Collaboration Circa 2004 178

The Benefits of Old Tools 181

E-Mail Detox 182

If Not E-Mail, Then What? 184

True Communication and Collaboration in Action 187

Slaying the E-Mail Dragon: Klick Health 187

Keep Calm and Jive On 198

The Internal Social Network 204

New Tools: No Guarantees 210

Next 211

Notes 212

Part IV What Now?

Coda: Was This Message Received? 215

Acknowledgments 219

Thank You 221

Selected Bibliography 223

About the Author 227

Index 229

See More

Author Information

Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker and recognized technology authority. He is the award-winning author of six previous management books, including the award-winning The Age of the Platform. While not speaking and writing, he advises organizations on matters related to communication strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, the New York Times, NBC, CNBC, Inc. magazine, BusinessWeek, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Fast Company, and many other media outlets. He holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon and Cornell University.

See More

Press Release

February 24, 2015
Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It

Thanks to bewildering jargon and excessive e-mails, the vast majority of business communication just doesn’t work. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the adoption of collaborative technologies can save $1 trillion annually.

Far too many business people from executives to salespeople to rank-and-file employees communicate poorly—or not at all. Some drop ostensibly sophisticated terms like paradigm shift, synergy, net-net, form factor, and optics to seem more effective—or even clever. Others regularly rely upon acronyms, techno babble, and buzzwords instead of plain English.

Not only are too many people in business talking without speaking, they are relying far too much on a single communications vehicle—e-mail. In the process, they actively resist new and truly collaborative tools specifically designed to make people work and communicate better.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

So says Phil Simon, management and technology expert. In his new book, MESSAGE NOT RECEIVED: Why Business Communication is Broken and How to Fix It (Wiley, March 2015), Simon demonstrates how intelligent professionals and organizations are embracing simpler language and new technologies. In so doing, they are communicating in a much more straightforward and effective manner—and seeing impressive results.

Simonexamines how we use (and often misuse) both language and technology at work. With case studies from progressive companies like Klick Health, Sidecar, and PR 20/20, MESSAGE NOT RECEIVED shares they use new platforms, tools, and collaborative technology to improve how we communicate and how messages are received.

At a minimum, communication breakdowns are directly responsible for a myriad of inefficiencies, including duplicated efforts, project failures, internal political squabbles, forgone business opportunities, and more. How many could have been averted if two colleagues had engaged in a five-minute live conversation or videoconference or with a quick phone call and screen-sharing session?

Divided into four parts, MESSAGE NOT RECEIVED is a thoughtful and thorough analysis of how we got to where we are in business communications, how to correct the errors being made and how to advance beyond e-mail.

  • Worlds Are Colliding. A recap of recent technological, societal, and business developments and trends in communication.
  • Didn’t You Get that Memo? Why we don’t communicate well at work? The two main problems of business communication: increasing use of buzzwords, and the evolution of our continued dependence on e-mail.
  • Message Received. Principles to increase the chances that our audiences will receive messages in addition to specific communications tips around language, context, and case studies.
  • What Now? Final thoughts and how we can effect change in our jobs.

Additionally, Simon discusses and can address:

  • Our growing dependency on e-mail, its limitations, and other alternatives (both more traditional and more technologically advanced).
  • The overwhelmed employee has become the norm. A great deal of internal and external business communication is not properly received, much less understood.
  • The effects of poor communication on employee morale, marketing campaigns, etc.
  • Alternative words and phrases to use in place of business jargon.
  • Hacks to stop using your e-mail inbox as your task-management list.
  • Tactics for building solid communication foundations.
  • Detailed case studies detailing how companies have deployed new collaboration tools.
See More
Back to Top