Category Archives: Communication

True or False? IT Pros are good communicators...

Software development has seen a myriad of change over the past decade – spiral development gave way to RAD (rapid application development), agile, extreme programming, scrum, and variations thereof with a common goal:  achieving faster, cheaper and better software development.

There’s no doubt that the scrum movement delivers releases faster – light years faster in some cases – than waterfall or even spiral methods.  The cheaper is questionable because the costs of co-locating customers, reworking designs as the software grows, acquiring specialized skills and training is at least as high as on other projects.  And is it “better”?  Better is a subjective word that can mean higher quality (the jury is out on whether agile methods deliver higher quality) or better alignment to requirements (again a subjective comparison)…

The true assessment (IMHO- in my humble opinion) of “better” comes down to whether the customer business needs are appropriately articulated into technical requirements.  Better depends on the communication skills of the customer team (who know their business) AND on the communication skills of the IT professionals.

IT ProWhat do you think?  What is your experience with IT professionals and their communication skills?  Here’s a short quiz to give you a hint about whether your IT Pros are good communicators:

1. True or false? –  Most IT professionals do not know what the acronym TCPIP stands for?
(True)

2. True or false – Most IT professionals know exactly what Markup Language (as in HTML) really is?
(False – markup language is the computer machine code that takes markups such as to denote what to do with text (i.e., make it bold).

3. True or false – IT professionals who were computer science majors had to take a communications course in college?
(False, it is not usually a requirement for computer science majors to take a communications course in college.)

4. True or false – Most IT professionals come from a background of engineering, computer science, technology or math?
(True)

5. True or false – Most IT professionals are introverts?
(True)

Bonus question: True or false:  Management in IT (and other professions) is expected to gain communication skills by “osmosis” as they ascend the corporate ranks?
(True, but this is fortunately changing as corporations realize how important is communication to delivering on customer “expectations”.)

How good are your IT professionals – would you give them a 10 out of 10 for communication?  Could the “better” – in terms of faster, cheaper, better – be a function of how good at communication are IT Professionals?

Happy communicating!

Carol


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ABZ's of Communication for PMs and Techies... P: Presentation Prowess

When you read the words: Polished Presenter, what comes to mind?  Do you think of an articulate speaker supported by clean, easy to read computer projected slides?  Can you remember the last time you saw a polished presenter at a technical conference?  What do you remember that made his/her presentation remarkable?

Turning a mediocre presentation into one worth remembering takes planning and practice.  Speeches and deliveries that lack planning and practice miss the mark and rarely deliver effectively.

Presentations themselves can range from highly interactive workshops to lectures to webinars (voice over IP streaming audio with Powerpoint slides) to a hybrid of these, and without a clear vision and objective, you might not see the differences needed in the preparation!

Before I share my own tips on presentation prowess (my “shortlist” has over 50 tips) – please share one characteristic of a good presenter by leaving a comment below.

After I receive five (5) comments, I’ll publish the first 10 tips across the various topics:  overall tips for presenters, content, appearance, timing, and international considerations.

What makes a good presenter? It’s your turn, please comment below now!

Have a great communication day!

For more information on Carol Dekkers and upcoming presentations and events, visit www.qualityplustech.com or www.caroldekkers.com

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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

ABZ's of Communication for PM's and Techies... O: Outlook and Opportunity - a Personal Story

O: (part two): Outlook and Opportunity

I’ve done p1ublic speaking for years in over 25 countries spanning North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia and so overcoming a “Fear of public speaking” has not been a problem for me since childhood.  However, even for someone whose middle school years involved delivering prepared speeches in front of a packed auditorium, I’ve had my share of the jitters and butterflies.

The O words that come to mind when I think about communication for technical professionals are “Opportunity” and “Outlook”, but before I get into how these words relate in today’s post, I’d first like to share with you the story of how I overcame “presentation paralysis” for presenting impromptu or personal presentations.

How I overcame Stage Fright to share Personal Stories…Carol speaking in Sao Paulo, September 2010

I was in my late twenties and was enrolled in the Dale Carnegie 14 week course on team building, and each week we had to deliver a prepared speech about a personal story or reflection.  I was surprised to find that I grew incredibly more nervous about sharing personal stories and participating in these activities as the weeks went by, and I’d spend the time between sessions worrying about how I could prepare a story that would be anywhere as funny, entertaining, and insightful as my classmates.

Every person presented every week, and as my turn approached to share a personal part of my life with my classmates, my heartbeat soared and my palms got wet with perspiration.  I couldn’t believe that I – a person who could deliver a prepared speech in front of 100 people flawlessly – could be tied up with angst over a 2-minute sharing story.  As the weeks progressed and my discomfort grew, I realized MY childhood fears coming true – I didn’t feel like I had anything of value to give and I felt that my perceptions, opinions, experiences, etc. were so much more trite and boring than those of my classmates and I feared that I’d be rejected for having them.  (As an aside, I realize that some of the fear of my perceptions being judged as wrong were perpetuated by my then husband who told me as much when we disagreed! But that is a segue into another topic for another time!)

Did my classmates give me reasons to feel this way?  No, it was the baggage I brought from my childhood and background – and it was getting in the way of my ability to fully take part in the sessions.  Throughout the sessions, various people would talk about their “breakthroughs” in communicating with others – friends, partners, family – and I just felt that I was attending, participating (with fearful trepidation when it was my turn to be at the front of the class) but not experiencing the nirvana that others were variously experiencing… until one night.

messageI returned home after my class still pondering how I could craft a creative, witty, responsive, and most-interesting story from my past for the following week, and the breakthrough hit me like lightning when I looked at the front page of the day’s newspaper:  The headline read “Cyclone in Bangladesh Kills Thousands” and I stopped in my tracks. After I got past the first “Oh my God” reaction in the newspaper, a personal realization set in…

Here was I, a single professional person in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta (one of thousands of cities throughout the world) worried about something as insignificant as being judged by a group of 30 peers in a little room once a week (when there are thousands of similar meetings at the same time) – and thinking that my little 2 minute presentation on some little happening in my life – was somehow significant in the grand scheme of things.  How incredibly self-centered!

At that moment, when I realized the plight of thousands of homeless human beings faced with the loss of their homes, their friends, their families, and impending weeks of sorrow and hardship, I realized how ego-centric and trivial my outlook on this little presentation every week really was.  In fact I thought that (as Dale Carnegie emphasizes) the worst case scenario for the next week was ultimately insignificant.  For example if the worst possible thing that could happen would be that as I walked up to deliver my story in class I tripped over the microphone cord, hit my head on the lectern stand, bleed profusely and vomit on the entire front row out of shock, it would ultimately provide a bit of dinner time talking points for my classmates, but that would be it.  So, if that was the worst that could happen (and it likely wouldn’t), it would never be a life-and-death situation anywhere near what was on the front page of my newspaper.

From that moment forward, my outlook on being in front of an audience – no matter on what subject – changed dramatically and I realized that whatever and however I share my stories (unpolished and imperfect), the outcome will really only matter to the “royal we” (me, myself, and I). My fears of being rejected (it has never happened) or looking stupid (okay, sometimes this probably happens) subsided because I realized that my Outlook and my attitude are the keys to a healthy outcome – no matter what.

I am now totally comfortable on any topic in front of an audience (I am no more or less important than anyone in the crowd) and see each presentation as my Opportunity with myself and not a threat.  MY breakthrough came when I realized that the world really doesn’t care about me at all, it’s all about everyone else and how they personally respond and react to what I say from THEIR VANTAGE POINT, not mine.

How can my story help you to improve your communication at work and at  play?  Perhaps it might help to realize that a presentation is only that – a chance to impart a message and share information – and it doesn’t have to be a near-death fear-filled experience.  Share what you know and do your best – that’s all that matters. The reactions and responses are all about your audience and not about you – and when you realize the focus is on them and not you, watch the outcome be positive.

Outlook is a matter of the mind – and when you consider that people have so many more things in their life (thank goodness) than to talk about YOUR PRESENTATION, it takes the stress off of you.  If you do a great job of presenting, you’ll leave a memory of the message in the hearts of your audience, if you don’t, it’s likely that your presentation will meld into the woodwork of life and be forgotten. Do you best to be memorable and outstanding (another O word), but should the worst happen (no one gets your message), know that there will be another Opportunity to deliver your message soon.

Wishing you communication success!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.
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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Communication for PM's and techies... N (part deux): Networking

With communication accounting for over 80% of a project manager’s time, it makes sense to focus on clear and effective communication.

N: (part 2): Networking

In today’s technology-infused, internet-savvy, globally wired world, connections to others (or at least the information networks of others) is increasingly important.  And yet, as our dependence on email, voicemail and texting increases, our daily face-to-face interactions with others decreases.  I’ve heard statistics that upwards of 80% of people would classify themselves today as “shy” – and it is increasing as we can cocoon in the comfort of our offices where we can communicate through email and instant messaging instead of walking down the hall to talk to someone in person.  Our global “shyness” is increasing with each new technology “advancement”.

Author and human relations expert, Susan RoAne (www.susanroane.com) wrote the classical books on networking in the 1980’s: “Secrets of Savvy Networking” and “How to Work a Room”.  Since then she’s said that today’s number one fear is “Walking into a room full of strangers”, supplanting fear of death and fear of public speaking as yesterday’s top fears.  The importance of effective relationships and connecting with people is nothing new in business – recall the saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” – yet the prospect of networking and mixing with strangers can be daunting. While most people would say that they are comfortable mixing with other parents at their child’s soccer practice, the same cannot be said for business mixers because the perception is that there is more at stake. Yet, networking skills are some of the most useful communication skills one can have – particularly in today’s uncertain employment market.

Here’s a list of ideas to help you to make your next networking event a success:

  • Everyone is a stranger:  Considering that many people at a networking mixer are in the same boat as you can ease the discomfort of approaching a stranger.
  • Approach someone standing alone and start conversation in a neutral way:  It is easy to open with “have you been to one of these events before?”
  • Initiate conversation with a neutral and positive topic: avoid asking someone what they do for a living and instead open with a neutral topic such as the weather or a current (non-political) news event. With the number of unemployed professionals today, it is wise to open with a topic that has less potential to embarrass
  • People like people like themselves: find commonality early on – for example if you notice something you may have in common (for women you may tell someone that you like their handbag, for men, you may comment on tie colors, for example)
  • Offer to help the organizers:  Volunteers are often needed to assist with registration, directions, greeting people, etc. and extra help is usually appreciated.  Arrive early and offer your help – the worst that can happen is that you meet a few of the organizers and can feel comfortable early on; the best is that you will be busy assisting as part of the event’s “insiders”
  • Introduce people to each other: knowing the level of overall shyness (80% or more), if you are comfortable introducing people to each other, do so with gusto. People appreciate being introduced because it saves them the work of approaching a stranger themself
  • Join in with a group by standing in an open space (don’t break a closed circle) and listening before adding your comments
  • Realize that rejection and acceptance are both possible – and either one speaks volumes about the other person(s) and is not personal to you.  Remember the words of Michael Jordan on basketball and taking risks:  You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. It’s worth the risk to make new contacts
  • Exchange business cards with new contacts (and have up-to-date ones with you. There is nothing more irritating than meeting someone and they immediately need to “cross out” and write in new information on their business card)
  • Don’t linger, mingle:  be aware that friendships take time to nurture so don’t monopolize any one new contact’s time.  While it feels comfortable to meet someone who is willing to talk to you, be aware that they are also there to meet people. After a few minutes of discussion, move on to meet others – the person will typically approach you if they wish to continue the conversation further.
  • Write down information about where you met the person (and any tidbits of knowledge you exchanged) on the back of the business cards you receive (as soon as possible) after the event so that you can recall who the person is later. A pile of scrambled and mixed business cards isn’t good for business later.  (Key point: do NOT do this in front of people, especially with new contacts from Asia as the business card is an extension of the person.)
  • Be helpful to others: people love to talk about their own business(es) and will often approach you to sell you on their company or product. Let them do so and give them information to help them (such as a lead or idea)- interest in others invariably ends up attracting others to you.
  • Follow-up with the people you meet – especially if you’ve promised to email or otherwise give them information.

What do you think – are these tips helpful?

Do you have any tips to add?  Please post them as a comment !

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.
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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

ABZ's of Communication for PMs and Techies... N: (part 1) Nots

With communication accounting for over 80% of a project manager’s time, it makes sense to focus on clear and effective communication.

Today’s post refers to N= Nots (as in do not’s)…

This posting is a series of reminders of what not to do for effective communication (Often negative reminders have more “stickiness” than positive ones!):

  • Don’t assume that your message reached the recipient when you don’t get a response (it may have been waylaid);
  • Don’t overlook body language in communication (body language accounts for more than 50% of what message is received);
  • Don’t rely on technology without following up (computers are fallible);
  • Don’t take a lack of feedback as acceptance (trust but verify!);
  • Don’t overlook the potential that cultural differences can have on your communication (culture can change the message interpretation remarkably);
  • Don’t ignore your instincts when it comes to audience reaction (your gut feel is often correct);
  • Don’t “wing” it with important messages (practice makes perfect);
  • Don’t underestimate your audience (be authentic);
  • Don’t talk down to your listeners (treat them with respect);
  • Don’t use TLA’s and FLA’s without explaining them (TLA is a three-letter acronym and FLA is a four-letter acronym. Acronyms are dangerous in communication because they can have MANY different meanings);
  • Don’t assume that listeners from other countries will understand American idioms (they don’t);
  • Don’t rollout communication plans before you test them first (it is much more cost-effective to re-plan than to have to do damage control);
  • Don’t rely on theoretical models – use historical results as predictors of future behavior.

To your successful projects!

Carol
Carol Dekkers email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.
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ABZ's of Communication for PMs and Techies... M: The four M's of Messages

With communication accounting for over 80% of a project manager’s time, the importance of — GOOD communication cannot be overemphasized.  Good projects begin with good communication!

M = The four M’s of Messagesmessage

Marketing has three M’s, real estate has 3L’s (location, location, location!) and Messages have 4M’s:

  • Meaning
  • Medium
  • Modality
  • Motivation

Meaning:

Ensure that the content of every message you communicate conveys the meaning you intend to convey.  Double check that what you say in the message as understood by the receiver is the same as what you intended.  How can you do this?  Two ways are to use feedback (see the “F” posting) and active listening (see the “L” posting).  Communication is a two-way street and depends on both the sender sending the right message and the receiver decoding it to get the right meaning.

Medium:

Based on the three styles of learning (see L posting: Learning styles) and the rule of three (it takes three exposures to a new concept before listeners begin to really hear the message), it is important to use more than one medium or way to communicate your message. This is especially true if you are communicating a new corporate concept or something where you need to move your audience to action.  To gain momentum, communicate the same message using a variety of media such as:  email (visual), meetings (auditory and kinesthetic), presentations (visual and auditory), newsletters (visual), informal discussions, etc.  Consistency of your message across the various forms is key!

Modality:

This is the frequency with which you communicate the message.  For new concepts make sure to communicate the message often with at least three exposures.  If it is a long-term concept or initiative (such as a process change at work) that you are communicating, it is important to continue to communicate both the concepts and the progress of the initiative throughout the project.

Motivation:

Motivation answers the question: why are you delivering the message? Undoubtedly you know why you are doing the communicating but does your audience?  Normally we don’t give this much thought, but your own motivation behind what you communicate can be a critical success factor.  If your goal is to communicate honestly and openly with your audience then this will become part of the unspoken message that is delivered. If, instead your motivation is clouded with ego and pomposity, then that will come through in your delivery. Ensure that your motivation is sincere, and if it is not, perhaps you are not the person best suited to deliver the message.

Try to keep the 4M’s of messages in mind when you communicate – meaning, medium, modality and motivation are keys to success!

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.
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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

ABZ's of Communication for PMs and Techies... L (part 2): active Listening

What is GOOD communication?

If you can’t answer this seemingly “simple” question, how can you as a manager do 80% of your job (communicating)?

In this second part of the letter L, we take a look at what many people consider to be the passive side of communication:  Listening – with an eye to making it an active part of the equation.

L = Active ListeningActive Listening

Often we mistake hearing for listening – but there’s a big difference.  As I pen this article, I am sitting outside on my deck in Florida and I “hear” an ongoing orchestra of cicadas and crickets –complete with crescendos and chorus.  It’s like a natural mix of electrical sounds intermingled with a subtle Latin maracas beat of the crickets.  But, while I’m hearing these sounds in the background, I’m not really listening and there is no communication going on with me.  (The insects are communicating with each other.)

Listening is a whole different concept when it comes to communication.  We can have passive listening (one way communication where the speaker delivers a message) or active listening (which is the subject of this post).  Active listening implies that we are not only hearing, but also deciphering a message and providing a response.  Wikipedia defines active listening as  (I’ve added the emphasis):

Active listening is a communication technique. Active listening requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. The ability to listen actively can improve personal relationships through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding.

When interacting, people often are not listening attentively. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements). Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important to fully attend to the speaker.

In corporate settings, it is the “thinking about what we are going to say next” that dominates and obstructs communication more than anything else. Rather than truly digesting what the speaker is saying, too often we concentrate on what our response will be and how to craft the words so that they come out well.  Group settings such as meetings, especially when the hierarchies are strict and “fiefdom” mentality prevails (turf protection) give rise to a lot of dysfunction with “active” listening.  As a result, communication gets crossed when the goal becomes speak, speak, speak instead of speak, actively listen, respond with questions.

Good communication is the result of respectful interaction on a “two way street” – the speaker speaks a message and the recipient decodes it and responds to make sure that the message as delivered is understood to be the same as the speaker’s intended meaning.  Often what we say is not what we meant to tell – there is a disconnect in the sender/receiver process – and the feedback to what is said is the clue to effective communication. When the loop is broken because there is no digestion and feedback, communication breakdowns occur.

If you are the speaker, it is important to encourage active listening.  If you are the listener, it is incumbent on you to set aside your secondary purposes (preoccupation with other things, blackberry or pda usage, deciding what to say next) and concentrate on what is being said.

After all, isn’t the reason for communication to communicate?  We can all do well to listen actively and improve our part in the communication process.

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

ABZ's of Communication for PMs and Techies... L (part 1): 3 Learning styles

With communication accounting for over 80% of a project manager’s time, the importance of GOOD communication cannot be overlooked.  Good projects begin with good communication!

L= 3 Learning styles

Have you ever tried explaining a new concept to someone and they just don’t understand? Then someone else walks in, gives the same explanation, and the other person gets the concept right away?

What probably happened was a disconnect in learning styles.  You  explained the concepts in YOUR learning style and the new person communicated in their learning style which happened to be the same style as your listener.

There are three dominant learning styles:

  • Visual (learning by seeing);
  • Auditory (learning by hearing);
  • Kinesthetic (learning by doing).

Visual Auditory KinestheticWhile we all use a mixture of the various learning styles, we tend to gravitate to one style when we communicate with others. One clue to your own or other’s dominant style is in the words we use:  Visual people may say “I see what you mean” and describe things with colors, shapes and visual clues. Auditory learners may say “I hear what you are saying”, while kinesthetic learners often express things in terms of feelings such as “I know how you feel.”

The type of learner you are provides clues to how we need to focus our communications with others. Knowing that there are 3 learning styles and that we prefer one particular style tells us that there are two learners who may not as easily connect with how you communicate.

Any planned communication should aim to reach all three types of learners through a variety of media:  written (visual), spoken (auditory), and discussed (kinesthetic).

Food for thought the next time you think that a single email will suffice in your communication plans.  Ensure that everyone is included by addressing all three styles of learning and you’ll find the commitment and receptivity of your audience increases.

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

ABZ's of communication for PM's and Techies... K: The KISS principle

With communication accounting for over 80% of a project manager’s time, the importance of GOOD communication cannot be overlooked.

K: K.I.S.S.=Keep it simple stupid!

While we can become divided by the fact that English is a common language with many variations, acronyms further complicate things.  Every client I visit is overrun with TLA’s and FLA’s that create barriers to the very communication they intended to make easier.

What is a TLA and a FLA?

TLA is a Three Letter Acronym and FLA stands for Four Letter Acronym. And, to make matters worse, the meaning behind such acronyms is often lost on even the most savvy users – in fact, sometimes even the original words are forgotten by the most frequent users.

Keep your communication clear, concise and easy to understand by avoiding acronyms.  If you must use one, make sure to include the words that make up the acronym in parentheses behind its first use.

Acronym usage is so prevalent in government and corporate environments that many organizations now publish “acronym guides” to explain the various (and often conflicting) words behind the various three and four letter combinations. (The only problem that I find with such guides is that they are specific to a particular industry or government group, and the lists themselves abound with further acronyms.)  For example:

http://www.acronym-guide.com/

http://blog.acronymfinder.com/

The best advice is to avoid acronyms all together, and if you can’t due to widespread use or industry familiarity – at least make sure to embed its meaning when it is first used.  We can’t stop the spread of acronyms, but we have a duty to make them meaningful to our audiences!

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

ABZ's of communication for PM's and Techies... J: Just do it (one step at a time)

With communication accounting for over 80% of a project manager’s time, the importance of GOOD communication cannot be overlooked.

J= Just do it… one step at a time!

If you are a well-read professional, you already know the value that comes with polished communication skills in terms of confidence, ability to think on your feet, and “promotability”.  Yet fear and inertia could override these benefits and keep one stuck.  What can we do about this?

Change is difficult – especially when it affects us personally.  When a change is proposed (like changing a habit), success comes when the cost of conformance to the new way is less than the cost of non-conformance.  In other words, if the benefits of change do not exceed the cost of not changing, we often go back to our former ways.

So, if you want to make a change to improve your communication skills remarkably, do it one small step at a time.  You may have heard the “joke” about how one should eat an elephant where the answer is one bite at a time.

So, what is a low risk way of improving your communication skills?  A number of low-cost yet effective organizations and tips can get you started including:

  • Toastmasters International (Toastmasters’ clubs meet weekly in many major cities across the U.S. and throughout the world. Newcomers and visitors are welcome and members practice and refine their public speaking skills by volunteering to speak at upcoming meetings in front of a supportive group of fellow members. Personally, I’ve attended several Toastmasters meetings during my speaking career and always found them to be consistently supportive of fellow members;
  • Dale Carnegie training.  While this is a structured program of seminars held over a three to four month period (and the cost is more than Toastmasters), the results are proven.  I hold fond memories of my own Dale Carnegie training and the experience of going back as a volunteer leader years ago.
  • Susan RoAne’s books (Secrets of Savvy Networking, How to Work a Room, and various other titles). Susan’s moniker as a mingling maven is well-earned as she continues to convert introverts into savvy networkers with her books and presentations worldwide.

Whatever direction you start out in to improve your communication skills – just do it by taking baby steps one at a time.  The benefits will enrich both your personal and business life so why not start by taking the first one today?

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======