Mastering Comunication at Work: A book review by Bob Morris

Mastering Comunication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence (Second Edition)
Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortman
McGraw Hill (2/10/21)

How to gain a competitive advantage that very few others have

I often read 2-3 books at the same time, as I did with this one as well as Raúl Sánchez and Dan Bullock’s How to Communicate Effectively with Anyone, Anywhere: Your Passport to Connecting Globally. I like both very much but for different reasons.

Long ago in one of his classic works, Rhetoric, Aristotle introduced what he characterize as “four levels of discourse”: Exposition explains with information; Description makes vivid with compelling details; Narration tells a story (with a plot) or explains a sequence; and Argumentation convinces with logic and/or evidence. (Here’s a reminder acronym for them: EDNA.) Effective communication depends on all four (to varying degree). Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortman fully understand all this, of course, and (in this Second Edition of a book first published in 2009) take it into full account as they carefully explain in a separate chapter devoted to each of several “ancient” techniques in Section 1 — HOW TO

o Understand and address what is of greatest interest and value to those with whom you communicate
o Establish and preserve your credibility with them
o Use the motivational matrix to maximize their engagement
o Use framing to capture and retain their attention
o Validate their own thoughts and feelings (e.g. opinions)
o Enrich each message to them with “color” to increase its appeal

Then in Section 2, they explain each of several formats that can help strengthen the relationship with those with whom you communicate, especially during a crisis. More specifically, HOW TO

o Avoid or eliminate your own defensiveness as well as others’
o Conduct high-impact formal meetings and informal interactions (i.e. “touch points”)
o Delegate effectively
o Provide feedback effectively
o Prepare and deliver compelling, high-impact formal presentations
o Prepare and conduct interviews that reveal those best-qualified to be hired

In Section 3, Becker and Wortman shift their and their reader’s attention to a challenge that all organizations face: How to establish and then strengthen a workplace culture within which effective communication is most likely to thrive? In this Second Edition, they added new material on  mastering communication while working from home.” The goal of communication is the same as in-person interaction: be clear and be valuable. The way we use language, tone, and timing, however, demands extra care. Words and messages live forever in the digital world. Master communicators love this challenge.”

In fact they welcome it. Most people do not.

Think about it. Individuals as well as organizations need a competitive advantage, especially in today’s business world, one that is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time, at least that I can remember. Ethan Becker and Jon Wortman are eager to help you and your organization gain that advantage.

I urge you to read and then re-read their book, channeling Hillel the Younger when asking, “If not now, when?”.


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