How to Talk So People Listen Business Book Review Bu

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©1989 Harper & Row
ISBN 0-06-015669-4
Sonya Hamlin
The Real Key to Job Success
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How to Talk So
People Listen
Volume 6, Number 3 • Copyright ©2000 Corporate Support Systems • All Rights Reserved
Book Cover
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Reviewed by Lydia Morris Brown
Chapter 1: What’s the Problem? Why We Don’t Communicate Well in the Workplace (20 pages)
We don’t communicate well because we learn not to. At an early age, our parents move us from “Me. I want. I
need,” through a socialization process that edits the progression from feelings to action so completely that we become
extremely accomplished in deception, denial, and accommodation, denying our natural expression in order to receive
affirmation, affection, approval, acceptance, and recognition.
The gratification of these primary needs is also what motivates us at the workplace. The job, where we hope for the
biggest returns on our personal investment in these primary needs, is the very place where we are the most constrained
in our communication. Therefore, we adjust our communication behavior to accommodate these needs as they are
manifested in others and ourselves. Additionally, these needs work in specific ways in the three basic work personalities,
which operate to further define who we are and what we need on the job:
1. Achievers are those who are internally motivated and who set high standards for themselves, their primary
motivation is accomplishment, e.g., entrepreneurs.
Business Book Review™ Vol. 6, No. 3 • Copyright © 2000 Corporate Support Systems, Inc. • All Rights Reserved
How to Talk So People Listen
2. Affiliators are motivated by the need to belong
and to be well treated by others.
3. Influencers are motivated by power and influence, either personalized power/influence or
socialized/institutional power and influence.
Achievers are the majority in the workplace; therefore,
the key to better communication is for achievers to
recognize and understand the skills and behaviors of the
minority (Affiliators and Influencers) when developing
strategies for any encounter.
Chapter 2: The Basics of Communicating: Why
and How People Listen (27 pages)
Truly effective communication requires the active
participation of the listener as well as the teller. The
challenge is to motivate the listener to actually want
to listen.
People will listen if it’s in their self-interest, because
of who’s doing the telling, and/or because of how the
information is being told. The way we’ve been conditioned
to listen, however, has been influenced by the evolution
of television as the primary method by which we transmit
and receive information. News stories are short; time is
compressed, words are reinforced by pictures, live action,
and sophisticated graphics; the person presenting the
information is downplayed; and there is a seamless flow of
words (made possible by the TelePrompTer).
Consequently, the listening public has become passive
and inattentive; it lacks imagination (the images are
provided), feeds on sensationalism, is able to veto, by
remote control, anything it doesn’t like, and expects
commercial breaks every 10 minutes or so. This slick
“quick-fix” has supplanted the slower, in-depth learning
systems that have been in place since the beginning
of time.
Understanding why and how we listen is vital when
planning a communication strategy.
Chapter 3: Getting Ready to Communicate:
Fore-Thought for Strategies (30 pages)
Improvised “seat-of-the-pants” communication usually
falls short of the desired effect; no matter what the milieu
, one-on-one with the boss, a client, or a staff member; a
presentation to a large audience; or a meeting with a few
Sonya Hamlin
participants, direct, organized strategy (“Fore-Thought”)
is the most viable path to take.
Fore-Thought is the analysis of a presentation situation
before anything is said or done. The Fore-Thought chart can
be used by those being summoned (the “They” column)
to the meeting or presentation, and serves as a purposeful
method for considering objective goals, emotional needs,
and probable expectations.
Chapter 4: Structuring and Organizing Business
Encounters (18 pages)
Crucial considerations include deciding: (1) what’s to
be accomplished; (2) the amount of material that can be
effectively covered; (3) who else needs to be involved in
the planning; (4) if the time is right for your subject matter;
and (5) the length of the meeting.
Taking into account the day and time of the proposed
encounter, distractions, work habits, the need for follow-up,
and the emotional impact of the meeting location will
garner optimum receptivity and focus from your audience.
In addition, how you go about getting on the calendars
of those you wish to meet with must allow for work
circumstances and your relationship with the intended
No matter how you choose to factor in these various
scheduling considerations, flexibility and sensitivity must
be the key ingredients.
Chapter 5: Designing Presentations: What
Captures Attention and Understanding (23 pages)
Because the human mind requires order and logic
to absorb information and formulate conclusions, a
chronological checklist of the contents of your presentation
is a useful organizing tool. After the presentation is
designed, consider explicit, logical, and clear visuals
for greater persuasion, and “leave-behind” materials for
further consideration. This content design process can
be used to plan any type of presentation, including
sales pitches, requests to the boss, or the reprimand of
an employee.
Chapter 6: Close Encounters: One-on-One
(23 pages)
A one-on-one encounter progresses through Openers,
Substance, Special Issues, and Closure. The function
Business Book Review™ Vol. 6, No. 3 • Copyright © 2000 Corporate Support Systems, Inc. • All Rights Reserved
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How to Talk So People Listen
of each of these components determines the kind of
communication needed.
1. Openers warm the environment and help the
recipient of the message feel more comfortable.
Additionally, they buy time for each person
to evaluate the attitude of the other, and to
then use that information within the context
of the encounter.
2. Substance: Motivation, structure, and design
are as important here as in a presentation to a
large audience. Impromptu visuals (arranging
objects on the desk or simple drawings) and
“leave behind” materials can also be of value.
3. Special Issues such as criticism, discovering the
truth, and dealing with anger are particularly
sensitive areas that need special attention when
they surface in an encounter.
4. Closure is often mishandled or simply forgotten, even though it is critical to the success
of the encounter. Each party must leave the
meeting knowing exactly what happened and
what each can expect from the other.
How well each party communicates during the
encounter is dependent upon how well these components
have been addressed.
Chapter 7: Presentations: How to Make
Memorable Speeches (46 pages)
When planning your presentation, create a portrait
of the audience that includes age and sex, professional
and educational levels, and ethnic differences. Take into
consideration why your audience is there: coercion; interest
in the speaker or the subject; office or industry politics;
confrontation, etc. Use this information to determine what
role you need to play (sharer/guide, inspirer, realist), and
what you need to give your audience. Your presentation
should contain neither more nor less than what they need
to know.
To ensure optimal contact, avoid “reading” your
material, an extemporaneous presentation from succinct
outlines and notes will effectively make your presence felt.
An opening that establishes the theme in a way that lets
the audience know why they should bother to listen will
Sonya Hamlin
capture their attention, and actively involving them in the
presentation will sustain it.
How your audience feels, passive, disenfranchised,
anonymous, competitive, put upon, manipulated, resistant,
threatened (feelings associated with why they’re there,
who they are, and what they need), as well as their physical
comfort or discomfort, will affect their receptivity to your
Chapter 8: The Art of Being Questioned: The
Audience or the Boss Vs. You (34 pages)
One of humankind’s most threatening experiences
is to be the object of questioning. You can lessen your
feelings of apprehension by understanding that in any
Q&A interactions, the information requested is yours to
give as you choose and how you choose.
Handling an audience question-and-answer period
requires understanding what your audience wants, hearing
exactly what is being asked, and thinking before
When in a Q&A session with the boss, you must
address your fear that the situation gives you no real
choices about how you’ll react or what you’ll say. Plan to be
helpful and constructive, rather than evasive and defensive,
by being prepared to answer all questions.
Chapter 9: Meetings: Leading and Participating
Effectively (35 pages)
Meetings are extremely valuable to the workplace, but
usually fall short of what they could accomplish. Group
interaction is difficult and requires concerted effort to
make it work well; therefore, everyone must strive to listen,
support, and disagree constructively. Recognize and take
into account predictable behavior patterns; build unity
by allowing everyone to participate in some phase of the
planning; organize your presentation just as thoroughly as
you would for a large audience or a one-on-one encounter.
Within the context of the meeting, the central figure should
lead rather than take over, and the participants should
come prepared to fully participate.
Chapter 10: The Last Word (2 pages)
Effective communication must first reflect the audience,
then connect with and include them, otherwise the message
will go unheard.
Business Book Review™ Vol. 6, No. 3 • Copyright © 2000 Corporate Support Systems, Inc. • All Rights Reserved
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How to Talk So People Listen
Sonya Hamlin
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Business Book Review™ Vol. 6, No. 3 • Copyright © 2000 Corporate Support Systems, Inc. • All Rights Reserved
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