Communication skills is perhaps the most common feature in most job descriptions when firms recruit. However, there are nuances to effective communication beyond being a persuasive presenter that this article focuses on.

“In a paper published in 2015, Kyle Brink of Western Michigan University and Robert Costigan of St John Fisher College found that 76% of undergraduate business degrees in America had a learning goal for presentation skills, but only 11% had a goal related to listening. Business students were being schooled to give TED talks rather than have conversations. That may have costs. Another study, conducted by Dotan Castro of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his co-authors, found that when people felt listened to by those in supervisory roles their creativity and sense of psychological safety improved.”

Indeed, it features a new book called the Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg (who also authored the brilliant ‘The Power of Habit’). One of the studies featured in the book:

“Recent research by Beau Sievers of Stanford University and his co-authors asked groups of MBA students to discuss the meaning of ambiguous film clips. The presence of people perceived to be of high status seemed to impede consensus: these folk spoke more and were readier to reject the explanations of others. Groups that reached consensus were more likely to have a different character in them: people who were well-connected but not dominant, who asked lots of questions and who encouraged interaction. They made everything align—even the neural activity of their groups.”

The article features a couple of techniques from the book such as sharing vulnerabilities to build connections or looping techniques to bring people with diametrically opposite views together.

“…his book is a useful reminder that demonstrable curiosity about other people’s experiences and ideas can benefit everyone. Asking questions, not cutting people off, pausing to digest what someone has said rather than pouncing on breaks in a discussion to make your own point: these are not enough to qualify someone as a supercommunicator. But in plenty of organisations they would still represent good progress.”

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