Email has become the most popular form of written communication at work, first within the organisation and now in dealings with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders. This book point out that the speed of its uptake has only been matched by the speed of its abuse. People dumping their workload onto others by email, and the development of an 'all-hours' culture are just some of the problems, spamming. Some cowards also use email to deliver bad news that should be handled sensitively and face-to-face; people have even been made redundant by email. On the other hand, email has many benefits, including speed, friendliness, and flexibility. As a form of communication it is hard to beat. How we use email determines if it is good or bad for us as a communication tool.
Great communicators have self-awareness, caring, empathy, wit and 'spark', but it is vibrancy, enthusiasm or self-confidence that sets them apart. Passion is a critical element of all effective communication too but you can't manufacture committment as it is driven by belief and faith.
This book sets out six types of communicator, each with good and bad characteristics:
- The secret agent: they play their cards close to their chest; are reliable and discreet but can breed a 'suspicion' culture.
- The double agent: has a foot in both camps; can be a useful ally in the short term but may be deemed untrustworthy in the long term.
- The gossip columnist: collects or makes up tittle-tattle; has lots of 'friends' but lacks credibility.
- The dictator: listens to no one, makes snap judgements and decisions. Gives clear directions but people become resentful when they think their views aren't being listened to.
- The kitchen sink: tells everyone everything. They cannot be accused of not keeping people informed but they lack focus and waste time.
- The mouse: has opinions on many important issues but lacks the self-confidence or ability to express it. Seen as a good sounding board but lacks the ability to influence.
This book includes a number of tests and exercises to help you assess how effective a communicator you are and to identify the areas in which you would like to improve. BUT the best piece of advice in this book is BE YOURSELF.
A review of by Shut up and listen! by Theo Theobald and Cary Cooper, Kogan Page, 2004.