Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It
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.
List of Figures and Tables xv
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
1 Technology Is Eating the World: The Dizzying Nature of Today’s Existence 21
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
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
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
Appendix to Chapter 3 95
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
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
6 Don’t Call It a Paradigm: Guidelines for Effective Business Communication 145
Selecting a Communications Medium 150
Handling the Fallout 150
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
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
Part IV What Now?
Coda: Was This Message Received? 215
Thank You 221
Selected Bibliography 223
About the Author 227
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.
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.