101 Tips for Improving Your Business Communication
eBook - ePub

101 Tips for Improving Your Business Communication

Edward Barr

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  1. 266 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

101 Tips for Improving Your Business Communication

Edward Barr

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About This Book

This book contains business communication information that may not have been taught in college–information that has been accumulated over years of business experience and teaching.

Anyone can read these brief tips to learn how to better communicate in business while saving the time that might have been invested in reading many books.

The tips cover the fundamental areas of writing, speaking, and interpersonal communication, as well offer general business communication advice. Each tip is a practical application that can be implemented immediately. Each tip is also illustrated by a story from the author's work life in various industries. Lastly, the book also lays a foundation for an understanding of how the brain influences all communication.

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Year
2021
ISBN
9781953349996

Part I

The Brain

To best understand communication, you need some rudimentary knowledge of how the brain works. I do not claim to be an expert on brain function, just someone who has continued to be fascinated by the small bits I learn from the books of renowned neuroscientists and assorted others including neuromarketing experts. I take that knowledge and fit it inside the context we all inhabit. This is the context.
1. EVERYONE IS OVERWHELMED WITH INFORMATION
We get too many e-mails, tweets, text messages, blog posts, catalogues, newsletters, radio commercials, TV spots, popups, banner ads, billboards, and so on.
We can hardly deal with the onslaught. Each of these mediums presents us with numerous issues. Consider continuous partial attention; we cannot focus on one task and complete it. Instead, we try to juggle five or six things at the same time, maybe more. We read our e-mail, work on our report, talk on the phone, and check our Facebook posts at nearly the same time. I say “nearly” because science has proven that no one can pay attention to more than one thing at a time. We can’t truly focus on two things simultaneously. Forget texting and driving; you either text or drive.
2. HOW BAD ARE THINGS?
We have a very short attention span, 8 seconds and shrinking. That is compared to a goldfish with a 9-second attention span. Attention has become the gold standard. If you can capture attention, you have a chance of getting your message through. I say you have a chance (you’ll learn the challenges you face later on). On top of that, if your message does not dominate that short attention span, it may get rejected.
A web developer in Omaha, Nebraska, Andrew Fisher, auctioned on eBay the use of his forehead as advertising space. He sold the rights to a company that owned a product “SnoreStop” and for a month’s display, Andrew earned $37,375. Not bad for a month’s work.
We see Andrew’s forehead and we see a message. We visit the men’s room and we see messages above the urinals. (I can’t speak to the ladies rooms but I’m guessing they have messages too.) We see body art (tattoos) on many people. We see little polo players on the clothes of the cool people who wear Ralph Lauren clothing, as well as many other product and company names and logos, FUBU, Tommy, DKNY, Sean Jean, and so on. And that does not begin to consider the bombardment of billboards, posters, radio, and television ads we encounter on a daily basis.
3. WE CAN’T DEAL WITH IT ALL
Then there are the 55,000 text messages sent every second. And 3 million e-mails are sent every second. And the 5,700 tweets are sent every second. And then, there are blog posts, and so on. Every political campaign sends at least one e-mail every day, probably three or four on other days.
Data never sleeps. It just keeps rolling in, ever flowing. I admit, I’m adding to it herewith. But I’m trying to help you with the insights I have gained from neuroscientists so that you can actually reduce your messaging by getting it right the first time.
4. WORKERS ARE CONTINUOUSLY INTERRUPTED
We try to focus, but our e-mail pings. Then someone stops by our cube to ask a question or BS. Our phone buzzes with texts. A customer calls with a question. The interruptions never end. We lose much of our day trying to re-focus, which scientists indicate takes 15 minutes to 30 minutes. In the process, we either ignore or forget most of the messages sent at us.
We have much more distraction than communication, and we grow more and more frustrated because our messages don’t work, our products don’t sell, and our companies fail.
5. UNDERSTAND THE BRAIN AND COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY!
According to many scientists, we have learned more about the human brain in the past decade than we ever knew. EEG and fMRI, especially, have given us much information about how that 3-pound tool at the top of our heads works.
6. IT ONLY WEIGHS THREE POUNDS
But, it does amazing calculations and functions, including keeping our hearts beating and keeping us breathing! The brain can perform 200 million billion calculations with its 80–100 billion neurons and its 1.1 TRILLION cells. Pretty amazing, right?! Its neurons fire anywhere from five to fifty times per second. The brain has more wiring than the world’s biggest supercomputer, 200,000 miles of “wiring!”
7. YOUR BRAIN WEIGHS LITTLE BUT CONSUMES MUCH OK, so it’s only a little guy, weighing a measly three pounds. The brain makes up for its small size by consuming as much as 20–25 percent of the oxygen and glucose you consume. Who said thinking wasn’t hard work? Now you know why you need a nap at the office at midday!
8. IT DOES MOST OF ITS WORK NON-CONSCIOUSLY!
And, you don’t even know it. Your brain helps regulate your body temperature. It regulates your heartbeat. It helps you breathe. Yes, your brain does those things while you’re busy thinking you control the world. Yes, we think we consciously control things. But, we take in 11 million bits of information per second (mostly through our eyes) and we only process 40–50 bits of it. That means, 99.99 percent of our brain function is non-conscious.
We will purchase more beef if the sign tell us “75% lean ground beef” than if it says, “25% fat ground beef,” although both are identical. We don’t rationalize this. We decide non-consciously. Why, because of a technique called “framing” largely unconscious to us. We will buy more German wine when German music is playing in the liquor store.
If you and others enter a room with a backpack on the floor, you are likely to be more cooperative; however, if money is on the floor, you will be more competitive. If you are exposed to an Apple logo, you are likely to be more creative than if you are exposed to an IBM logo. Hey, maybe we should have Apple logo wallpaper at work! If you are holding a warm cup of coffee and are asked to evaluate a stranger, you will evaluate that person more positively (warmer).
… today brain scientists are slowly displacing the conscious mind with the nonconscious mind as the center of human mental activity. This shift is as important, and as profound, as the shift, in astronomy, from the earth-centered to the sun-centered solar system
—Genco, Pohlmann, Steidl1
Wow! That is saying something! We are using our non-conscious brains to get around in this world. We think we use consciousness but many studies show us otherwise.
9. WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE 100,000 YEARS AGO?
Things were rough, to say the least when we lived in caves. The men woke up hungry and ready to hunt. This was the age of eat or be eaten. Humans had a slight disadvantage—they were smaller, slower, and weaker than most animals. Every kind of animal out there was interested in a nice warm human dinner. But, we had developed thumbs, good hand movements, and developed tools, as in weapons. We stood upright to see the competition better and we developed perspective. Our trachea elongated and we were able to make sounds that allowed us to communicate. These advancements helped us to survive and thrive.
10. WOMEN’S LIVES WERE EQUALLY CHALLENGING
Women woke to the cries of their children and their hunger. Together with the other women, they stayed close to home looking for roots and fruit, as well as water. They cared for the sick and came to rely on each other. They built social networks, became masters of empathy and learned quickly to interpret body language and facial expressions. Women internalized the notion of community, knowing that if ostracized, they might perish, along with their children.
11. OUR PREFRONTAL CORTEX ALLOWED US TO PLAN
One hundred thousand years ago, we were “thinking”—where shall we plant, hunt, bury our relatives? We drew cave paintings, switched tasks, practiced rituals, and experienced emotions. We used our “executive function,” our thinking brain, that is, “thinking” in the way we usually define it as conscious activity.
12. OUR BRAINS FUNCTION MUCH THE SAME TODAY
We wake hungry and aggressive. Instead of battling wild beasts, we battle traffic and the person in the next cubicle who wants our job. We function with the same “Triune Brain” (three-part). So, what is this three-part brain? Scientists refer to it as the “ Lizard-Limbic-Neocortex Brain,” as well as the “Hindbrain-Midbrain-Forebrain.” You may have heard it described as “Survival Brain-Emotional Brain-Thinking Brain.” This name also suits it well: “Mammalian Paleo-mammalian Neo-mammalian.” Regardless of which nomenclature you prefer, they all describe the same thing.
13. REMEMBER HOW THE THREE-PART BRAIN EVOLVED
The lizard brain guided humans, just as it guided lizards, through the dangers of the world. When it encounters something new and unusual, it asks some very basic questions: Should I kill it, eat it, mate with it, or run? As the emotional brain evolved, it added to the lizard brain memory and feelings about the important stuff it encountered. The thinking brain allowed us, unlike the animals, to use memories to build plans and societies. But, most of the three-part brain’s functions were (and are) being carried out non-consciously. Why? To keep us alive!
14. WHY ARE SCIENTISTS DISPLACING THE CONSCIOUS MIND?
Imagine that you are a centipede. You’ve got these hundred legs and you suddenly must consciously decide how to place one in front of the other for a quick walk down a leaf. That’d be pretty troubling, wouldn’t it? Leg 1, leg 2, leg 3, leg 5. No wait. Leg 4. Oh crap! Or, imagine you are a human being and you must continually, consciously regulate your heart beat, lung action, respiration, and blood pressure. Controlling all those functions consciously, you’d never get anything else done!
15. OUR CONSCIOUS MINDS LET US REMEMBER THE PAST, LEARN FROM IT AND PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
That’s challenging enough. So, we rely on our non-conscious minds using “gut feelings,” doing things the “down and dirty” way and using the power, as Malcolm Gladwell called it, of the “blink.”
16. WE ARE NOT MR. SPOCKS
What comes to mind when you think of Dr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame)? Spock retrieves and evaluates information, right? He processes it quickly and dispassionately, like a computer. He makes choices based on logic, created from his thinking brain. He doesn’t change his behavior or thinking unless he is given new information. He’s a data wonk. We like to believe we are all Spocks, of lesser but similar skill. We think that we “think about” things, that we use our thinking brain to make decisions. Sure, we do to some extent. We might have used conscious deliberation when learning to ride a bicycle, but after we learned, we committed it to our non-conscious to process ever after. Try riding your bike today and consciously thinking about balance! We committed the riding skill to “System 1.”
17. ARE YOU OPERATING ON SYSTEM 1 OR SYSTEM 2?
Well, actually you are both. Daniel Kahneman popularized these systems and won awards in the process. When you use System 1 thinking, it is fast, automatic, effortless, associative, emotional, intuitive, and inaccessible to conscious awareness. When you use System 2 thinking, it is slow, controlled, effortful, rules governed, neutral, deliberate, analytical, and accessible.
18. MOST OF US CHANNEL Dr. McCoy
Dr. McCoy, unlike Spock, is a System 1 guy. He uses his instinct combined with previous experience and emotional cues. He doesn’t always get his facts right and he does most things out of habit. If he were a buyer, he’d buy things spontaneously because they “felt right.” He would buy emotionally and justify rationally. If you wanted to sell him something, you’d use r...

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