George Bernard Shaw once famously said, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
Although he died in 1950, Shaw's words live on, especially in the business world. Far too many executives, salespeople, consultants, and even rank-and-file employees suck at communicating. Some think that they're speaking and writing effectively when they drop ostensibly sophisticated terms like paradigm shift, synergy, net-net, form factor, and optics. Others think that they're being clever.
No doubt that you know the type. Maybe you're even one of them and don't realize it. These are the folks who regularly rely upon obscure acronyms, technobabble, jargon, and buzzwords when plain English would suffice just fine. They constantly invent new tech-laden words, bastardize others, and turn nouns into verbs. They ignore their audiences, oblivious to the context of their words. In other words, they talk without speaking.
If bad business communication is a disease, the prevalence of hackneyed and utterly meaningless terms is just one of its major causes. Aside from using confusing language, many corporate folks depend almost exclusively on a single communications vehicle: email. In the process, they actively resist new, powerful, and truly collaborative tools specifically designed to make people work and communicate better.
What's the net effect of this near-pervasive failure to effectively communicate while at work? The precise monetary figure is impossible to quantify. At the same time, though, it cannot be overstated. At a minimum, communication breakdowns are directly responsible for myriad inefficiencies, duplicate efforts, ineffectual campaigns, project failures, largely avoidable gaffes, internal political squabbles, and forgone business opportunities.
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