Readers seek answers to communication conundrums

//October 5, 2009//

Readers seek answers to communication conundrums

//October 5, 2009//

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NULLQuestion: Now that the kids are back in school, I have volunteered to emcee a talent show as a fundraiser for the parent-teacher organization. Although I have never done this before, the organizers have asked me to have some backup plans ready in case there are blackouts or other technical difficulties. I thought of preparing some jokes, but in the past, I have read in your columns that it might be best for people to be careful how, and when, they use humor. If there are technical difficulties the night of the show, what do you recommend?

Adubato: Don’t use jokes unless they are proven laugh-getters in other situations in front of a variety of audiences. Instead, go into the talent show or any event with a personal anecdote or story about one of the participants, or something about the show itself that connects to you and/or your audience. Stay in the moment when things go awry.

Question: I have a boss who micromanages everyone in our office. What can my coworkers and I do to cope with this manager? We really enjoy our work, but not her micromanaging.

Adubato: Many managers believe that they can’t trust their people to get the job done, so they hover and over-communicate. They create unnecessary rules and policies that have nothing to do with productivity and effectiveness, and everything to do with the perception that they are keeping control. What is really needed is better leadership and professional development to help future managers understand what it really takes to move a team forward while creating a positive, collegial environment.

Question: I have found that there are some business professionals who have a tremendous ability to read an audience’s nonverbal clues, and in turn are able to react to them in “real time.” How can those of us who aren’t such naturals at this become more aware of our audience when communicating?

Adubato: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once told me in an interview about how he communicates: the key is to “get into your audience.” He said you must have a sense of where they were coming from. His point is well taken. The more you can have a feeling for your audience, the more you can connect with them. The more your audience feels that you are on the same page with them, the greater the likelihood your message will get through.

Question: Electronic communication has become part of our professional life. Nowadays we are communicating almost strictly via e-mail. Many times I receive e-mail from my associates which are without a formal beginning and ending. Am I old fashioned or reasonable in my expectations that a message needs to have a beginning and an end?

Adubato: As we become more immediate in our communication, more and more of our communication has become informal. Many don’t differentiate between texting and e-mailing. It is all just a way of sending and receiving information. The problem is that degree of informality is perceived by different people to mean different things. A simple rule of thumb with any business-related e-mail: It is safer to provide a simple salutation and type your name in at the end. You can’t get hurt by doing it; however, if you go in the more informal direction, it can send the wrong signal.

The Bottom Line: Thanks for taking the time to send feedback. We can all learn from one another in this complex communication game.

Steve Adubato wrote “Speak from the Heart” and “Make the Connection.” He is also an anchor for Channel 13/WNET (PBS) and a motivational speaker. He can be reached at (973) 744-5260 or at www.stand-deliver.com.