Business Communications Skills

Interpersonal Communication Skills

Plain talking

A neglected skill? It must be! Since there is even a book (referenced in PDF) by a well-known author on the subject. Just read his 'Plain Talk'. This is a book on plain talk. It tells you how to speak and write so that people understand what you mean.

So, obviously we need to be taught how to talk plain language. Much of the work in business organizations is in teams, say a project team or task force.

Typically, the members of such a team may have backgrounds in accounting, engineering, legal, production and computing. A project team comprising five such professionals are known to behave like five different firms, each concerned with their own world . For example:

  • Accountant - presents the analysis in jargon
  • Engineer - uses every technical phrase learnt at school
  • Lawyer - speaks in Latin

In effect, all at different wavelengths. If the project manager talks in plain words to the team - "anyone who cannot use words understood by a high school student would be kicked off the team". This is bound to have immediate effect and everyone will start talking in plain language.

Words can indeed mean different things to different people. There is, or was, a sign in the Pentagon in Washington that proclaims:

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Humpty Dumpty explaining his philosophy of life to Alice, says:

"When I use a word", Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less."

Are we all living in "wonderland"? Those gentlemen at the Pentagon seemed to think so, if the sign above is any indication of their thinking.

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