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Hi. I'm David Buchanan.
I'm an Emeritus Professor
of Organizational Behavior
at Cranfield University School
of Management in the UK.
Now this talk is about
The main argument is that comms
is not a 'soft' function.
The ability to communicate and
persuade orally and in writing
is top of the list of skills that employers
look for when they're hiring graduates.
We think of communication
as a soft skill.
Communicating with others is something
that we all think we're pretty good at.
It comes naturally.
For the organisation,
the stakes are higher,
is key to performance.
From a global survey
of 650 organisations,
the American consulting
company, Willis Towers Watson,
found that those with
were three times more likely to
show superior financial performance
compared with those with
In other words, communication can help an
organisation to make or to lose money.
Comms is not a soft function.
Communication involves a
transmitter sending a message
through an appropriate
channel to a receiver.
To do this, the transmitter
has to code the message
in a way that the
receiver can understand.
This involves a choice
of language and words,
and also the tone and
style of the message.
The sixth sense of communication thus depends
on the accuracy of the receiver's decoding.
Did they understand the language and
the implications of the message?
When we communicate
face to face,
we get instant feedback to check
that we have been understood.
But when we communicate
through other channels,
feedback can be delayed,
distorted or nonexistent.
Communication often fails where transmitters
and receivers of different frames of reference
don't share experience
even if they share
a common language.
When communicating details of a
major change initiative, therefore,
we can't assume that all of the
recipients of the message will have
the same understanding of each
other and of the transmitter.
For you, as a manager,
this organisational change is exciting
and will contribute to company profits.
For me, as an employee,
this change would make my skills
obsolete and ultimately lose my job.
Perceptual filters play a
key role in our decoding.
For example, this can involve
a readiness or predisposition
to hear or not to hear
Preoccupations that divert our attention
can also lead us to filter out information.
We can all remember an occasion
when somebody told us something,
we did hear them say it,
but we were thinking about
something else at the time,
and the message didn't sink in.
It was filtered out.
Communication would be
simple to describe,
but this is clearly an