The Miracle of Language and Linguistics

The Miracle of Language and Linguistics

by Diane M. Hoffmann
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

Language and linguistics are the names that refer, respectively, to the spoken forms of communication among the members of the various human cultures, and the science of such languages.

Linguistics include the study of human language and its phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics within the descriptive, historical, comparative and geographical structure and development and the relationship to other languages.

Language is the human speech or expression of communication of thoughts and feelings by means of vocal sounds.

A good cross-section of the meaning and descriptions of language and linguistics can be found in the Internet's Wikipedia.

But in this article, I'd like to give you a different perspective on the subject which you will not read anywhere else.

A few years ago, a prominent newspaper reported that until recently, science knew little of how humans developed language; through experiments with specially devised tools at the University of Indiana, researchers were able to send sounds of the human voice to children who are totally deaf.

The miracle, as described by those witnessing the scene, was not that children who were born deaf and never learned to speak were hearing and using spoken language for the first time… but ccording to Dr. Mary Joe Osberger, director of research in the department of otolaryngology, that until now, their ability to speak was zero, no matter how intensely they were trained.

This was a quantum step indeed into the sciences of the brain and language. It went on to say that because language is so important to humans, the brain “will not let it go”. For example, it says that children who suffer major damage on the left side of the brain from accidents or disease, can acquire language using the right side of the brains.”

The expert team said that after the age of seven, the flexibility to bounce language around in the brain diminishes… then relearning a language as a result of brain damage becomes more difficult.

It is beyond full explanation how important language is. Some evolutionists place language as the line between humans and animals.

But those who believe in God’s creation realize the magnitude of this fearfully and wonderfully made human body, in all its intricacies, which is made “a little lower than the angels” and which has been crowned “with glory and honor” (Psalms 8:4-6).

With language, we communicate in family and society, we learn, we teach our children, we run our communities and nations.

With language we can bless or curse our fellow human being… we exert power to move ahead in careers and in life. How wonderful God’s gift of tongue is.

The awesome complexity of language is further explained, in part, in the article reporting that, before birth human brain cells are created and assigned general jobs. After birth, a second wave of structural changes occurs as the number of connections, called synapses, are increased between brain cells.

The report explained that between birth and about age 1, the number of connections multiplies from about 50 trillion to 1,000 trillion. Then a third res-tructuring takes place between the ages of 4 and 10 where the brain seems “to glow like a nuclear reactor, pulsating at levels 225 percent higher than adult brains.”

It is said that during this time, learning a foreign language, math, a musical instrument or anything else is easy. Then beyond the age of 10, when the brain’s maps have been made, learning a language involves the building of new connections and the tearing apart of old ones. Wow!

This is where the real miracle comes in…

In Genesis, chapter 11, we read the story of Babel where God broke up the one world language of that time into many languages:

“Therefore is the name of it called, Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth”. (verse 9). That is a mighty miracle of God. These people had gone through all the biological and psychological transformations of language learning, and contained a whole nation of people including the old who had long passed the scientific reasoning “when the brain’s maps have been made and learning a language involves the building of new connections and the tearing apart of old ones.”

But “instantly” God changed their language and “confounded” them all into speaking many tongues right there and then so as to scatter them from their rebellious plan!

In light of what we discover today through science and technology, miracles we read about in the Bible are becoming more and more awesome./dmh

Article copyright(c)2009-2011, Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

Diane M. Hoffmann is founder/director of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and the web site http://communicationverbalnonverbal.blogspot.com which offers free articles and tips on verbal and nonverbal communication. Diane is the author of the 296-page "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training and the 2-part ebook version of the same.
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Three Communication Tools to Use to Better Communicate

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d/th
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

Three Communication Tools to Use to Better Communicate

Communication tools come in all types and forms. We have tools within verbal and nonverbal communication, such as the basic words and body language and the means of translating, interpreting, feedback, understanding and awareness.

Then we have the written word skills and media used to carry out this writing including the technology available such as computer hardware and software, visual equipment, sound equipment in public arena, etc.

But when we encounter problems during communication, we need tools to deal with them effectively.

The following are three communication tools within the tools of communication that I use and that can be applied to any situation.

Tool # 1 -- The 1-11 Measuring Scale(c):

If 0% is bad communication, and 100% is good communicate -- on a horizontal scale of 1 to 11, we have:

1 being 0% communication (bad, negative, destructive),

6 being 50% (poor, negative/positive) and

11 being 100% (good, positive, constructive)

Draw a horizontal line on a sheet of paper and write the numbers 1 to 11 from left to right, leaving about 1" space between the numbers.

Underneath the 1 write (vertically this time, one word under each):

0%, Bad, Negative, Destructive

Under the number 6, in the same vertical manner, write:

50%, Poor, Negative/Positive

And again, under the number 11, write:

100%, Good, Positive, Constructive

Use this scale to measure present daily communication habits -- ask yourself "On a scale of 1 to 11, where do I stand as the speaker (sender) or as the listener (receiver) in a particular issue.

Use it to check specific situations you might be unsure of. When faced with a problem, ask yourself, "On a scale of 1 to 11, where does the problem of communication fall?"

This will identify the level of the problem from 0% to 100%, and the equivalent level of corrective action required. In other words, if the problem is really serious (low on the scale), then a corrective action will be required. But if it is not low and does not alert any danger, you might forfeit any action and just tolerate it -- or "get used to it".

If the problem falls halfway between 0% and 100%, ask yourself, "What would the two extremes be if it extended one way or another?" In other word how bad could it get if I don’t do something about it, or how good could it get if I got rid of this problem. Depending on the answer, is the change necessary? Is it worth the effort?

Along this line, here's another tool to use:

Tool # 2 -- The 2Xtremes analysis(c):

Often, the indecisions we face are caused because problems fall within the gray areas between black and white (negative - positive) and not at an obvious extreme.

So if you need further focus on a problem, push the situation to the black or white extreme by asking pertinent questions from these two points of view. This will identify which side holds the solution or need attention and work.

For example: "I won't get that report done on time, so what's the worst scenario that could happen?" If it's not that important, you'll be able to make a decision and move on accordingly. If it is important, then you move on to "what's the solution?"

Here is an example of looking at a problem from the 2Xtremes analysis.

Have you ever come out of a store or coffee shop and someone else attempts to enter at the same time? Who has the right of way? Looking at it from the extreme, if the store was full and could not accommodate another person, those entering would have to let people out first and then they could get in.

So, based on that, it is a pretty good rule to say that those entering a building should give way to those exiting.

Another way to look at extremes is to look at important people and ask, "What would Einstein do in this situation?" or the Prime minister... "What would Ann Landers say?" Or my father, or mother, or boss, or husband, wife, an admired peer at work, or an expert in the subject at hand -- or you may ask "What would God say?". Then, you can use that extreme to come up with a decision or solution.

Tool #3 -- The 7-Points Problem Solving(c):

Every company should have a common strategy that all employees use to solve problems. That would be part of what is called the "house rules" or the corporate communication of a company. It should be part of the first-hand orientation of a new employee.

When people are faced with a problem, everyone in the company then knows how to handle it in the same manner so that all will be able to communicate with one another in the same language and picture -- in other words "be on the same page".

The way to look at a problem is to spend 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution -- not the other way around.

With that in mind, one needs to ask and answer the following questions:

1) What is the problem? Break it down into groups of not more than 3, that you can call by one name or sentence.

2) What’s the cause of this problem? Analyze facts only. Under each Group, break them down into 3 possible causes.

3) What’s the solution? Under each possible Cause, break this down into 3 possible solutions, 1 appropriate solution for each possible cause. Choosing the most promising, decide the best one to pursue (one at a time).

4) What’s the corrective action? Again, break down into 3 actions to be taken for that expected solution.

5) Monitor the result. Break down the Action into workable deadlines, and monitor on the time frames until corrected.

6) Follow up with every affected function or department. Continue to monitor and follow-up until every concern is satisfied.

7) Change the approach if needed. Go back to step 3 again and change it. If the first solution does not give the desired result, take the 2nd most possible solution. Work through steps 4, 5 & 6 until a solution is found. If all three fail, start from step 1 again.

These are three of the most popular tools within the tools from my book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training” that I’m happy to share with you to help you improve communication./dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is owner/manager of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site http://business-resources-hrc.blogspot.com and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

The 3-D of Effective Communication

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d/th
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

The 3-D of Effective Communication

How do we communicate now? Poorly. The majority of people communicate at a very shallow surface level. Studies have shown that most people communicate at 50% effectiveness -- even in a two-way communication. I venture to say that it is often less than that.

Just think how often you are frustrated by your boss, your peers, your spouse, your children... on a daily basis. How many times are you misunderstood? How many times do you have to explain that you didn't mean something the way it was perceived or received by your listener?

How many times at work have you been interrupted to never have had the chance to get back to that important discussion where you wanted to clear yourself of a misunderstanding? Often, even the explanation of a misunderstanding is misunderstood -- sometimes angrily, sometimes silently.

How many times have you kept silent rather than risking offending someone as you would genuinely try to find out where a misunderstanding came from, or try to explain your position.

How ought we to communicate? We have to communicate on a much deeper level. We must go beneath the surface which is where most people operate at now. There is a 3-D to communication amongst the words, the surface, and the lines we use.

This 3-Dimensional element is a critical part of communication. You've heard the expression "reading between the lines". This is only one dimension. There is also reading below the surface and reading behind the words.

When words are spoken, listen beyond the mere words -- where reality is found. A lot of people have a limited vocabulary and don't use the precise words they really mean. Studies have shown that one of the major causes for the aggression of violent or criminal people is the inability to express themselves, and consequently their being misunderstood, ignored or misjudged.

If you don't understand someone or if what he/she is saying doesn't make sense, ask questions -- or wait until the rest of the discussion clarifies itself. The best way to do this is to listen. Listening doesn't mean keeping quiet only.

Someone may say one thing while meaning another. Sometimes they may be trying to tell you something without taking the responsibility of having said it. Of course, there has to be a constructive reason to probe in these cases -- sometimes it's best to leave it alone, depending on the motives.

For instance, one may be trying to say that somebody in the office is having an affair. That, you're best to leave alone. Or one may be saying something that may indicate he/she will be leaving the company, which will create an opening. If you've been looking for that opening, you might want to start some smart probing in order to inform yourself about it before you lose the opportunity.

Watch for hints and cues along the discussion with people. That's “contextual listening”, looking at the surrounding context, making the effort to understand what the person is thinking, not just saying. Understand where the person speaking is coming from -- that's being aware of the context of the speaker. At times a person may be full of air, but at other times he/she may be telling a truth worth investigating or expanding. This can be at work as much as at home -- the principles of communication are the same anywhere.

Sometimes people say one thing because of something else -- what is that something else? If it's not clear, make the effort to understand where the person is going with what is being said; what is the ultimate result the person is trying to get at; if these results are not demonstrated during the communication, ask wise questions rather than respond negatively to something not understood. Give the conversation time to finish.

As you can see listening is active.

Speaking about a dissatisfied job at work, someone said, "After January 1st, there is nothing to hold me back." To an effective listener, this should have raised questions like, "Hold you back from what?" "Nothing" means there was something before January 1st -- what was that something? Why is it not there anymore? What is the person saying, or getting at, or trying to bring attention to? Often, we just leave it there and nod politely.

We say something the way we do because of our own contextual situation from our past experiences, the knowledge of our present or the hopes of our future. To listen (or receive) actively means to be aware that there is more than "meets the ear". This is where the Translating, Interpreting, Feedback, Understanding and Awareness responsibilities take place.

It is the responsibility of every communicator to find out when something is unclear. But, if the person being addressed only thinks of what he/she is going to say next, there will be no perception and no opportunity to respond in a connecting manner. This is where the cue will be given to the sender that the listener is not listening.

If the speaker expects the listener to say "yes" and the listener gives an irrelevant reply, then that's the tip-off that the listener's mind was on something else. How often does that happen to you? The speaker can then pick up the topic, the phrase or the question again and re-state it, for the satisfactory result.

This requires the on-going use of the 3-D tool which is "to read between the lines, read below the surface and read behind the words"./dmh


Diane M. Hoffmann is owner/manager of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site http://business-resources-hrc.blogspot.com and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

The Definition of Communication

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d/th
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

The Definition of Communication

In researching several relevant books in my library for the best definition of communication, I did not find one direct answer. Most described it in terms of the language, the process, the influence, etc.

The best definition I came across is the following:

Communication: "the act of transmitting. A giving or exchanging of information, signals, or messages by talk, gestures, writing, etc. To make known. To give information, messages. To have a systematic and meaningful relationship. A system for sending and receiving messages as by telephone, telegraph, radio, etc... A system as of routes for moving one place to another. The art of expressing ideas, esp. in speech and writing." (Websters New World Dictionary).

The Dictionary of Psychology by J. P. Chaplin also describes it as “a process of transmitting or receiving signals or messages.”

Thus in short, the definition of communication is: A system for sending and receiving messages.

This can be applied to human communication within personal, business and technology.

Because communication is a system for sending and receiving, it therefore requires a Sender and a Receiver. In business, it is a seller and a buyer, a consultant and a client, an employer and an employee, a supervisor and a worker or staff member. At home or in our personal lives it is one family member to another or one friend to another.

Within the definition of communication, there is also a verbal, vocal and nonverbal part of communication. Experts tell us that of the total impact of a presentation, only seven percent is determined by the words we use (verbal); thirty-eight percent by the tone of our voice (vocal), and a fifty-five percent comes from nonverbal cues.

In nonverbal communication, people don't even need to be conscious of sending a message. This may take place by means of facial expressions, head movements, body positions, acts and gestures, tones of voice, clothing, dress appearance and even odor!

Saying one thing while doing another is a powerful nonverbal communication. The supervisor tells the subordinate "always return to your original working file after saving a back up copy of your work", yet the supervisor doesn't do it; or management agrees with an employee's request to have staff meetings but does not implement them, etc.

In one company the manager gave a deadline for the production staff to come out with catalogs. Yet, that same manager held up the production by not providing the necessary input on time. This type of sloppy communication sends mixed messages and confusions. These inconsistencies speak louder than words.

In other instances, supervisors or senior personnel use their authority to take off early or carry on long personal conversations on the phone. The rest of the staff can't say anything and are supposed to ignore it and live with it; they don't want to create bad feelings and difficulties for themselves, but it bothers them and affects their attitudes. Again, this sends the wrong messages to the team.

These examples create bad relationships, frustrations and low morale. The worst part is that top management doesn't know it goes on. These supervisors are all nice and diplomatic in the presence of management, but they carry on devastatingly in their own departments.

In a training organization that specialized in providing management excellence to corporations, the office manager used to rave and rant when a staff member made a mistake in data entry, banging on the desk with her fist, yelling and swearing. In front of the management group she was as smooth and professional as you could expect anyone to be.

As leaders, how can we use communication more effectively? By remembering the definition of communication as being a system for sending and receiving that involves a sender and a receiver with equal responsibilities.

And armed with that, by applying workable concepts that create the environment to both talk (when we're the sender) and listen (when we're the receiver)to the staff.

It has become popular in many companies to use "Feedback" forms that employees are asked to send to their co-workers.

However, people are not going to write on them such situations as described above. No one is going to put down on these forms the negative experiences they tolerate from their supervisors/managers or their peers. It takes more than just forms. It takes personal and deliberate open communication.

And these same examples apply at home also within the daily definition of communication, activities and encounters of family members -- between a father and a mother, a parent and a child, a brother and a sister, an uncle or aunt and a nephew or niece, a grand-parent and a grand-child, etc…

It takes willingness and effort to improve communication. Again, the first thing to know is the definition of communication and the understanding of what it is and how it works. Then that knowledge must be applied – every day.

The typical rewards will be 50-100% improvement in areas of greater efficiency, less misunderstandings, better relationships, better environments, happier employees, higher morale, happier customers, better productivity, better corporate and personal results. Who doesn't want that?

In one of his Personal Power tapes, Anthony Robbins names 7 character traits that are imperative to success. One of them is "Develop Communication Skills". "Develop" is the key word.

It has to be developed by each one of us within that definition of communication as a system for sending and receiving messages by both an engaged sender and a receiver. /dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is owner/manager of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site http://business-resources-hrc.blogspot.com and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

Workplace Communication – How To Make The Best Use of It

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

In its simplest form, communication is a system for sending and receiving messages. And when we do any of that within the workplace, as we do every day, we have “workplace communication”. How do we make the best use of it?

To understand what workplace communication is, one needs to first understand what communication itself is. Communication is a giving or exchanging of information, signals, or messages by talk, gestures, writing, etc., to give information and messages.

Communication is a process we use to have and keep a meaningful relationship. It is a system for sending and receiving messages as by telephone, telegraph, radio, etc... It is a system of routing for moving things from one place to another. It is the art of expressing ideas, especially in speech and writing. It is the science of transmitting information in symbol. It is all of these things and more.

Like all other basic communication, it needs to be developed, practiced and improved on a continuing basis. In the workplace, because we spend a large part of our daily lives at work, we first need the ability to communicate with others.

Within workplace communication we need to manage ourselves, our co-workers, our bosses, our suppliers and customers. We need to establish, cultivate and nurture business and personal relationships effectively and successfully.

How do we do that? For many, it does not come naturally. We get irritated by things and by people around us. We get frustrated if we cannot express ourselves properly. Many folks find it very hard to have any kind of relationship, let alone one at work. We often hear of conflicts, sometimes ending with tragic results.

One thing we all have in common: we all have to work at workplace communication. Some of us come into the workplace more equipped than others, some less. We decide what we need and initiate ourselves in the learning process. We may have to learn to communicate with diplomacy for example.

We may need to learn to become more persuasive communicators. We may need to learn to become better leaders in our own lives and in our own departments. We may need to learn to reduce stress in difficult situations, or in our overloaded responsibilities.

Whether we deal with our co-workers or our employees, we can improve workplace communication by learning to give and get constructive feedback. But first, we need to learn to be assertive. We need to be able to make contact with others and open up a conversation. We need to be interesting by reading interesting things that we can talk about, relating to our business. We need to smile more.

Workplace communication should flow from one person to another, from one department to another, from top management to bottom management.

Workplace communication takes many forms. It is verbal, nonverbal, written. It uses many means such as telephone, letters, memos, computers, Internet. Email has become the most common forms of workplace communication.

All of the above have one thing in common. It can all be learned. Whatever we are missing in workplace communication we can learn. We only need to be aware of it, be mindful of it and take the initiative to learn it and make the best use of it to our successful advantage. /dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Leadership Communication: The Merger of Leadership and Communication

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Of all communication, leadership communication is the most potent. Why? Because a) leadership is the beginning of effective management and b) communication is part of that leadership that leads to good management.

What do I mean by leadership being the beginning of effective management? By that I mean that leadership is where it all begins. Without leadership you can’t have effective management, or management at all, in any area of business or personal life.

To lead means to show the way, to direct the course by going before and along with; to conduct, to guide, to cause one to follow, to mark the way, to hold the hand, to pull along, to persuade or influence a course of action or thought….

Placing this adjective next to communication means that, now, communication takes on the same lead role and becomes a whole other dimension of basic communication, and becomes the most important leadership skill.

As leadership is the beginning of management, leadership communication is the beginning of leadership. Without effective communication you cannot lead or manage effectively. When you merge leadership and communication, you have the most potent of communication skills.

What is necessary to make a leader? Are leaders born or are they made? One might think that personality types would limit the possibilities for someone to become a leader. But personality types have both strengths and weaknesses, and it is the strong points that make the difference.

What makes a leader, is the recognition and capitalization of these strong points in any personality type. Anyone can be a leader in business or at home, no matter whether you are a type A, B, C, D or whatever other label you chose to describe your personality with.

But leadership without the “serving” attitude is dead. Leadership is not about bullying. Leadership is not about serving yourself at the expense of others. That will eventually lead to destruction rather than construction. It is about serving others. Every day we are serving someone.

So how does one become a successful leader and keep on being a successful leader?

Firstly, by being mindful of wanting to be a leader. Secondly, by pursuing being that leader through learning. And, thirdly, by continuously asking yourself questions, such as are found in the book “Serve to Lead” by James Strock:

Who are you serving? How can you best serve? Are you making your unique contribution? Are you getting better every day?

Leadership communication begins in successful leadership. It is all of the communication process and activities, conscious and unconscious, instinctive or created, that stem out of leadership into the effective management of our business and personal lives. /dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

***Sign up for my weekly "TipSheet" on Communication Verbal-Nonverbal, Organization and Training...***

Communication Management At The Serving Levels

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Communication management is the planning and setting in place of all the daily communication activities that go on in a business – large or small and in all departments. Most people at senior, middle or bottom management know this instinctively, in its most basic form.

However, the creation, implementation, monitoring, revision and adaptation of new channels of communication within an organization are, collectively, what determines success or failure within. Lack of communication management principles can ruin employee morale and, consequently, productivity and profit.

Communication management planning is like project management planning -- it is a necessary part of it. It is the lifeblood of business operation at all levels. It is a continuing project of its own taking place below the surface.

Senior executives implement policies, make final decisions, approve major changes, guide operations, synergize the teams, empower others to carry out the policies, yet many don't take the time to develop communication management working plans. Why not? And how can they do it? By reading, taking courses, listening and by committing to do something about it.

Most problems within an organization are caused by a lack of communication, or bad communication. As I always say, communication is a wide and broad topic. No one can write an article about any of it’s sub-topics in completion. All writings on the subject work together endlessly.

That goes for this topic of communication management too. Where does one begin? Where does one end? For one thing, it begins at the “serving” level of each worker. In an organization, everyone needs to serve the other. But that requires learning. We don’t normally enter a new job with communication management in mind.

It has to be part of the company orientation from day one. It has to be part of the culture, the value, the mission and vision. It has to begin at the top. Have you noticed how many top management executives buy training materials "for the staff" and request "the staff" to attend -- but they themselves don't?

Staff members sit in these sessions, itching that Mr. or Mrs. Executive "could hear this". Why? Because top management executives have to participate in these practices, along with the rest of the organization.

They have to be seen participating. You cannot have one part of the company use communication management and not the other. Top Management is the example, the leader of all implementation and continuation of communication management activities.

The lack of communication management leadership is born out of the old organizational charts, which does not foster the "serving" principle that lifts up each level from top-down in mentorship.

In other words the President serves the executives below him/her; the executives serve the managers below them; the managers serve the assistant/technical people below them and the assistant/technical people serve the support/secretarial personnel. Each level is trained and/or knowledgeable about the job below as much as their own.

Each level becomes a mentor to the one below by delegating and empowering him or her with clear direction and proper information. Empowerment is the ultimate demonstration of trust that management and supervisors can give to their team members.

When jobs and responsibilities are delegated, appropriate empowering is given along with it. I remember a job I took on contract once where the manager I reported to would give me information but not all of it. Her behaviour was not inviting to openness or discussion; her facial expressions turned to annoying or puzzling frowns whenever one asked a question, as if the staff "should know" what had been kept from them.

This hardly points to empowerment. Communication management begins at the level above and ends at the level below. It begins in creation and implementation at the top and ends in completion and fulfilment at the bottom, in a continuous cascade at each level throughout the whole of the organization./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

***Sign up for my weekly "TipSheet" on Communication Verbal-Nonverbal, Organization and Training...***

Organizational Communication In Business Or Anywhere

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Writing on the topic of communication has no limit. Organizational Communication is just one more facet of the communication prism. Whether we organize our communication at work, home or play, we need to recognize it for what it is. A necessary part of life.

Most of us have some organizational communication which we do unconsciously. And that takes us pretty far in our world of communication. However there is also the organizational communication that we can improve, add, and increase which will make our lives even better and more enjoyable.

Let’s take organizational communication in business for starters. In my experience working with various organizations, I have found that when communication is poor at the departmental or staff level, it is firstly poor at the corporate level.

Only when a company is organized within its corporate context can effective communication and training of its people take place. The organization of a business cannot be done independently of its surrounding departments and divisions. And it begins by people – at the top.

To get organizational communication, there must be effective visuals. The first and foremost is the example of the people who implement it. Then the visuals that present the strategy it to the staff. And then the rest of the visuals that illustrate the divisional, departmental and individual participants. This can go into the orientation employee manual and other corporate communication newsletters and memos, etc.

Conventional organization charts, for the most part, do not lend themselves to express such a clear understanding of its purpose. They have a habit of displaying rather a growth of job functions that automatically expands into what gets to be called the organization chart.

A new manager is hired, or a new job is created and a new box is squeezed onto the organizational chart. After a while this chart becomes a cumbersome octopus -- to which management becomes slave without common vision.

To get out of this mode, many organizations have adapted a smaller and more dynamic chart, that limits the levels and departments of an organization, to five or six main divisions. I for one use such a system, even though I am a small business. It is important and indeed critical to be organized however small you might be – even in the family organization.

It is a known fact that in the 80's when senior management perceived the old organization structure wasn't working, wise companies responded by flattening the corporate structure. Companies such as IBM Canada, for example, went from some ten levels on the corporate hierarchy to about five. (Boom, Bust & Echo by David K. Foot & Daniel Stoffman).

One of the first responsibilities of top management is to provide the environment for effective organizational communication. Diversity was the buzzword of the 90's as TQM and Re-engineering were in the 70's and 80's. Now it is teamwork and speed. But all are based on effective organizational communication -- in different ways, depending on cultural, managerial and survival needs.

Before effective communication can be implemented, there must be organizational communication in place, unto which the first and foremost of all communication – verbal -- can be hinged.

Then organizational communication needs to be carried throughout the corporation verbally and visually. How can communication ideas be passed on to the people in the organization if there are no corporate visuals for everyone to commonly focus on?

Visuals are the charts, flow-charts, drawings, diagrams -- anything that creates a common mental picture that can be seen by everybody in the same way, and that can be used as common measuring tools. As I always say, if you can't measure it, you can't manage it.

Setting the environment for positive and effective organizational communication is what senior management must do when undertaking changes, implementing ideas or inviting participative solutions from its members. /dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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What Is Communication ? The big Picture

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Many people ask "What is communication ?" That's a big question.

I'm sure most of you have an idea and could describe your own interpretation one way or another. But the best description I've deduced from my readings and writings on the subject is as follows:

Communication is the act of transmitting or exchanging information, signals and messages through verbal and nonverbal activities. It is a system of sending and receiving between humans by way of speech, writing or technology within our personal and industrial lives.

What is communication? You simply cannot stop at one paragraph. It transcends psychology and physiology, neurology, electronics as they apply to communications throughout humans, communities, nations and continents.

Communication as a system of sending and receiving encompasses telephone, telegraph, radio, TV, transportation and shipping. There is technical communication, business communication, on-line communication, communication within productivity which can all be described individually as a 'what is communication' question.

What is communication? Our whole world is a great big ball of communication -- technical and individual -- from the micro elements in the earth to the macro in space.

Individually, communication is a never-ending system of transmitting or exchanging information, signals and messages, through verbal and nonverbal activities that begins at birth and ends at death -- even before and beyond.

But in its bare form, as it affects human communication, it is a system for sending and receiving that always requires a Sender and a Receiver. It is pretty hard to communicate with yourself. Although there is a lot of that going on through self-talk and thinking.

One can also communicate with animals. But people need people to communicate at the human level. And, there, it takes place on a two-way street platform used by a sender and a receiver exchanging communication specific codes.

Have you ever wondered how your body communicates within itself? How does it go from receiving a command or a stimulus, to carrying out the reactive physical or emotional response?

Let's draw a mental picture through a quick peek into psychology.

To put it simply, messengers (neurons) inside the body receive a command (a stimulus -- like hitting your big toe on the baseboard for example), pass it on to other neurons along the nervous system, which pass it on to yet other neurons that ultimately make the connection to the muscles to be contracted and which produces the ultimate response (retraction of the foot from the painful sensation).

The essence of the above process is that different types of messengers (neurons) are involved, each one carrying a specific substance (neurotransmitters) in order to connect from the original stimuli to the ultimate reactions.

In communication, the messengers are the activities of the communication process; the stimulus comes from the sender of the communication and the response comes from the receiver. The important factor as all of this takes place is the "connecting power" between the messengers or the activities taking place between the two people.

It’s like the coupling between two different gears in mechanical processes; it’s like the keyboard between the human fingers and the computer screen; it's like the software driver between the screen and the printer... or the receiver and transmitter on an electronic circuit board...

If the coupling isn't right, the gears will not work together. If the keyboard doesn't work properly, the screen will show garbled scripts or nothing at all, etc.

Funny thing is that the neurons within our nervous and neurological systems know what to do -- the unconscious process comes as standard equipment. But in our conscious verbal and nonverbal communication, we need to learn the "codes" which are the equivalent to the "neurons" inside our bodies.

How do we do that? By learning the process of communication which comprises the activities taking place, such as, the information (subject, instruction, opinion, etc.) being communicated by the sender and interpreted by the receiver; the means (verbal, nonverbal, in writing, by telephone, etc.) by which the information is being communicated and received; the way (tone of voice, kindly, hostile, etc.) in which the information is being sent and received.

What is communication? It simply cannot be wholly described or explained in a paragraph or article, it needs a book! In a one-liner crunch, communication can be boiled down to "a system for sending and receiving messages". But within that one line, communication is huge and complex and endless -- as big as our world is. /dmh.

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Dealing With The Endless Types Of Nonverbal Communication

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

The endless types of nonverbal communication have been the subjects of numerous good writings. The larger part of our communication is totally nonverbal.

Using the popular breakdown of fifty-five percent of our communication being nonverbal cues and thirty-eight percent being tones of voice, right there we have ninety-three percent of our communication being nonverbal. The seven percent left is verbal.

Within that nonverbal communication is where we find the types of nonverbal communication. The human individual responds to constant nonverbal cues and projections from one another. These silent signs and wonders can often make or break our communication since they actually speak louder than words.

These non verbal cues are silent statements about current or immediate situations or relationships not verbalized, that clothe our words either constructively or destructively. They often reveal emotions and attitudes people hold toward their own selves and others.

Nonverbal messages may qualify the words people use or they may betray discrepancies between the words and true feelings. For example one may say one thing but really mean another altogether. And this may even be unconscious on the part of the one saying it. Well, unconscious until they are made aware of what they are doing.

I remember the financial partner of a training company telling his staff there was no money to buy needed shelving for training materials, which they had been asking him for. Yet he took off every Friday in his Mercedes Benz to take his kids to Wonderland playgrounds. Actions speak louder than words.

There was also the owner of a small publishing business, I recall, telling of his disappointing experience when he went up to shake the hand of a motivational speaker he admired greatly. The speaker scanned straight passed him throughout the crowd, ignoring his admirer's handshake and complimenting words. Actions speak louder than words.

So, right here we could name these actions as being types of nonverbal communication: 'saying one thing and doing another' (the nonverbal part here is that which lies behind the words spoken), 'ignoring the person you're shaking hand with' (here it would be the behavior which is demonstrated).

Researchers have found that some specific acts have specific meanings. Head and facial movements, tone of voice and gestures give information about the type of emotion being expressed; body position and tension reveal the intensity of the feeling.

For example, I noticed a lot of people actually grimace while listening to someone laboring to express feelings or ideas. They are really saying "what are you saying", "why can't you tell it fluently" or "come on get it out", which can be condescending and offending. Rather they should patiently wait for the person to express him/herself in the best way he/she can.

Another type of example is someone dozing off during a speaker's presentation; this says something about the feelings of that participant toward the presenter or the company represented by that speaker. Or it simply tells about him/her own negative attitude.

To list the types of nonverbal and verbal phenomena which may be acoustic or non-acoustic (vocal or gesture), is often difficult. Research has shown that nonverbal communication is a lot more subtle and difficult to neatly categorize then what it was thought to be in the seventies.

We can make up a popular list of nonverbal types of communication such as, facial expression, gesture, attitude, posture, behavior, action, tone of voice, personality traits, cultural innuendos, appearance, presentation, stress, emotion, style -- all of these are only a partial list.

But within these types are also added their adjectives: smiling, frowning, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, signals, waving, pointing, loudness, pitch, inflection, strength, weakness, enthusiasm, depression, hesitancy, boldness, interested, disinterested, defensive, offensive, expectations, interpretations, ethical, situational, perceptional, spatial, social, normal, abnormal, familiarity, unfamiliarity, formal, informal, casual, looks, stares, blinks, friendliness, hostility, touch, contact, deficiency, abundance, hairstyles, clothing, color, mood, etc. etc.

Realistically, there will also be points of overlap -- behaviors that fit some aspects of one category and some aspects of another. So interpreting the endless types of nonverbal communication requires a meticulously careful and trained analysis in order to recognize and judge constructively./dmh
Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Being Aware Of Our Body Language In Communication Is Half The Battle

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Body language in communication can be demonstrated in an almost unlimited list of nonverbal and verbal activities that take place in our daily communication.

Researchers have shown that verbal and nonverbal communication is a lot more subtle and difficult to categorize as it was previously thought.

We can write up a popular list of body language communication elements such as verbal, which is from spoken words, and nonverbal that show up in facial expression, gesture, attitude, posture, behavior, action, tone of voice, personality traits, cultural innuendos, appearance, presentation, stress, emotion, style, etc.

And within this list of body language in communication are also further adjective elements such as: smiling, frowning, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, signals, waving, pointing, loudness, pitch, inflection, strength, weakness, enthusiasm, depression, hesitancy, boldness, interested, disinterested, defensive, offensive, expectations, interpretations, ethical, situational, perceptional, spatial, social, normal, abnormal, familiarity, unfamiliarity, formal, informal, casual, looks, stares, blinks, friendliness, hostility, touch, contact, deficiency, abundance, hairstyles, clothing, color, mood, etc.

There are experts who spend their whole career studying what each of these elements mean. And then books are written to tell the public about their outcome which is supposed to help us read one another better.

However caution is necessary. Too many people will read a book and begin a post-reading exaggerated scrutiny of others.

Just because a book says that "crossing the arms over the chest" is a sign of domineering or un-cooperation, it does not mean that everyone crossing his/her arms is expressing that feeling! How many times have you done it and you were not being uncooperative.

Often, this posture is simply because one is tired of having his/her arms hang down the sides. I have seen in meetings, some of the most positively responding people, listening intently to a presenter, being most cooperating and happy about the subject -- all with arms crossed over the chest!

A speaker's eyes moving around the room while talking is construed to mean several things. Some studies have gone to the extent of saying that the direction of the eyes even tells what information they are "fetching" where in the brain (i.e. eyes to the left, searching in the right brain, eyes to the right, searching in the left, etc.).

I've seen people looking toward one corner of a room while speaking because there happened to be a distraction there! The right-brain/left-brain mechanism has a lot of truth to it, but sometimes "experts" can get too carried away. Nobody understands everything about the brain yet. But most times, people are just "searching" for their thoughts.

Neither does disconnecting eye contact with the listener necessarily mean the individual is hiding something from his listener -- or is lying. They may sometimes do that, but more often they don't. These conclusions are study results of behavioral extremes.

Rather than saying that the movements of the eyes in a certain way while speaking to another represent deception, teachers should say, "... it could mean deceiving or lying, but it usually means the person is shy or uncomfortable in the presence of authority or a stranger, or simply is not aware of a bad habit.

And there could be a whole list of other reasons. Shyness is often the cause of such behaviour. My sweet little seventy-five year old mother is so shy that she can't even look in the eyes of the cashier at the grocery store! And she has been like that ever since her childhood under an oppressive up-bring.

Someone may have never been taught how to communicate. Indeed, this habit is eliminated after a person has been made aware of it and has worked at correcting it -- in other words after reconditioning him/herself. Politicians or public relations and business people learn this as part of their training or experiences. But someone who does not work in a public environment may never have even heard of it!

Observe next time you hear people speak, most people's eyes do wander around. There is a higher percent of this taking place when the person speaks, then when the person listens. It is easier to focus the eyes on a person while listening because when we are speaking, we are searching for our thoughts, our ideas, our words, and our eyes will wander off of our listener's -- unless we are trained to keep them fixed on our audience. But that can be overdone sometimes too.

On television, it is difficult for inexperienced people to focus and keep their eyes directly on the camera -- again, unless they have been taught. If you are interviewed, it is important that you keep your eyes on the interviewer as the camera is on you, but when speaking to the audience, your eyes should be on the camera lens as you speak to the listeners.

This is not an article on the study in kinesic (body motion) and proxemic (use and perception of social and personal space) behavior. There are many good books available on the subject of nonverbal and body language. Your local librarian or book store will be able to direct you to helpful reading materials.

However this synopsis should bring the matter up to our attention for the awareness and improvement of our body language in communication./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Communication - Avoiding Superfluous Bureaucracy of Documentation In Organizations

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Back in the 70’s I read a book written by a scientist who said that all systems were breaking down; he gave detailed examples of all levels from hydro plants to businesses, to economy, ecology, etc. He gave the results of a study that had been undertaken by an appointed commission who concluded that the paperwork and bureaucracy of documentation within government could be cut by half and more.

This superfluous bureaucracy of documentation in government and business organizations has not stopped. In fact it has grown parallel to the exponential increase of knowledge.

And it all stems from inefficient communication. I have seen abundant government forms, books and other written materials, that were not revised or expanded as should have been the case, but that were instead totally replaced with new materials. Somebody, somewhere in the bureaucracy of government didn’t know that something already existed that could be added to or improved upon. No one could even command a consistency of style and format.

Every time a new person is appointed to up-date or revamp manuals, they re-do everything entirely instead of improving and/or adding to the existing materials. As a result, each year, the public and business sector is forced to re-learn brand new sets of instructions and guides to perform totally new and different sets of exercises. Well government may have the time and resources to re-do every documentation over every year on taxpayers money, but businesses can't.

For example, when up-dating a book, the author does not re-write the whole work, he or she up-dates and adds current information. Up-dates are inserted within the body of the book where required and the current new information that took place since the last revision is added at the front of the book, along with a summary of the up-dates that have been inserted throughout the body of the book. This way, the reader who is already familiar with the book can quickly go through the newly revised work.

Likewise in a job description, the basic functions of it are the same even though some changes may take place from year to year. You don’t re-write the whole manual – you simply up-date it. The contextual part of all this is the recognition of the immediate surrounding of the job functions and the people performing these jobs. No matter who takes on the job or leaves it, the job possesses a basic, generic way of execution, according to the activities and requirements of the function requirements.

Of course, with the implementation of ISO 9000 standards of some years ago, this is somewhat easier to do now, because job writing processes are being foundationally laid down in such a way that any one taking up the job of up-dating documentation automatically follows the precepts of the previously written material.

But unfortunately most organizations do not have such standards and controls. I've seen plenty of instruction manuals that have been put together under some degree of professional business level only to find out they just didn't make sense. Oh, some of it is impressive to look at, it makes great reading on its own but try and marry it to the actual performing of a function, and it doesn't work.

Why? Because after it was written, nobody sat down at the job to follow the written procedures alongside the function. You follow every step, you do what the manual says, but the system or process you're trying to learn or make out to work just doesn't do what it's supposed to do -- a step is missing, an instruction was left out, a word was omitted at the beginning or somewhere along the process that sent the whole sequence on the wrong pathway. If you’ve bought a product to be assembled at home and followed the instruction, you know what I mean.

But my point at the beginning is that within government agencies or business organizations where there is no central documentation control, too many books and manuals and guides are being completely re-written instead of being merely up-dated by unsupervised trigger-happy individuals who have no concept of the predecessors who already penned the foundational basis to be worked on.

Multiplied by hundreds of hours of writing, this superfluous pool of documentation ads up to multi-million dollars annually – and that is not even counting the readers’ time. The bureaucracy of this all is the mechanical unimaginative way that has insisted on inflexible and blind routine and petty rules.

So how do we avoid this superfluous bureaucracy in an organization? By first becoming aware of its existence, by recognizing it in our own places of communication output and by hiring people who can set the controls to catch the flow of documentation that is lined up for up-dates and revisions./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Employee Training – Making Sure to Delegate Training to Competent Staff

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

When a new employee starting on a job gets oriented by a staff member, that’s employee training! However, be careful to making sure to delegate the training to competent and same level staff, because what will be said and done to that new individual will be either negative or positive to the company's present and future efficiency.

The worst thing I have seen is when a company hires a manager and then turns him or her over to a support staff member two or three levels below to ‘train’ and teach them about the workings of the company or department they are to manage. I’ve seen that happen with my own eyes many times. And, it seems to be happening more often to a woman manager – thrown into the ‘kittens’ den by male executives.

I remember the story of a new manager who started a marketing department in an organization. Since there had never been a marketing department before, the marketing tasks and functions were being performed by people who “filled-in” these tasks separately from their own various departments.

The company had several dealers across Canada who obtained all their product literature and brochures from this head office. The dealer orders for brochures had been split up into a multitude of responsibilities that were handled by various people. One kept tract of the inventory, another purchases and another production, etc. The task of actually filling in an order and keeping an inventory of the stock had been given to the receptionist.

A problem quickly became obvious as the new marketing manager took control of the efficiency of service to the dealers when they needed brochures sent to them. The dealers had been disillusioned about the delivery time of their orders. The backlog measured days, weeks and even months.

In discussing this situation with the receptionist, it became clear to the new manager that she was not going to cooperate. As suggestions for better ways to get the orders processed were given by the new manager, the receptionist’s comments were strong and negative that she would not cooperate in any way. At the time, she was being transferred to a new position in accounts payable and even spoke for her replacement to come that she "wasn’t going to want to do that either".

First of all, it was not up to the receptionist to tell management what her successor was going to have to do or not do. Second, it was certainly not up to her to interfere with the implementation of new procedures bestowed upon the new marketing person.

The even deeper problem was that this employee had not been told the level of responsibility the new marketing manager's job entailed. The receptionist’s attitude was in a time-warp of bridgeless and disconnected organization, communication and training existing throughout the organization.

Management had never trained its staff on the different levels and responsibilities of the corporate structure’s players. The only respect given was to upper management who bore the titles of president, sales manager and controller. Everybody else was on the "same level" according to their perceptions.

As for the job function itself of filling in the orders and keeping track of the inventory of the dealer brochures, the task had not been delegated to the right person or department in the first place. The receptionist could not leave the switchboard and go to the plant to fill in orders and ship them out and count inventory. Logic alone said that. Hence the perpetual backlogs. Yet it had gone on for years, even as the dealers complained repeatedly about the delay or total non-delivery of their promotional materials.

It’s hard to believe, but there it was. No one at the management level had even taken the time or initiative to identify source of the problem and the job function requirements from both the reception and the order filling point of view. If they had, they would have found the descriptions totally at odds. The job had been given, unwritten, helter-skelter and completely out of the context of the function itself.

Yet, top management turned a new manager over to the ill-equipped support level person during the critical initial period of management orientation and training. Not only was this oversight (?) on the part of the executive demeaning but it created unnecessary delays in the organization of the new department as well as some pretty difficult situations to be overcome during the process.

Where do these executive discrepancies come from? Well, often it is from people who rose to the top without getting proper training themselves. When it comes to new employees, making sure to delegate training to competent and equal or higher level staff members is, not only the right thing to do, but critical to human decency and courtesy and business proficiency and efficiency./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Four Types of Communication – Or Are There More?

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

From my observation, many people are searching for “the” four types of communication. Perhaps they are thinking of the four types of personalities. However, I will deal with four types of communication that are most commonly discussed.

Firstly, what is communication? It is a system for sending and receiving messages, whether that is personal or otherwise. Because communication is a system for sending and receiving, it therefore requires a Sender and a Receiver.

Communication is further described as “an act of transmitting. A giving or exchanging of information, signals, or messages by talk, gestures, writing, etc. To make known. To give information, messages. To have a systematic and meaningful relationship. A system for sending and receiving messages as by telephone, telegraph, radio, etc... A system as of routes for moving one place to another. The art of expressing ideas, esp. in speech and writing. The science of transmitting information, esp. in symbol." (The Websters New World Dictionary)

As we can see, communication can be of many types. From the description above, we could say that there are two types of primary communication: 1) communication exchanged by humans, and 2) communication exchanged through industrial systems (albeit executed by humans).

Within the primary type of human or personal communication, we can boil down a secondary set of four types of communication commonly used.

These four types of secondary communication are the: A) Verbal; B) Non-verbal; C) Written; and D) Visual.

The verbal type of communication is what comes out of our speaking tool – our mouth. It is the verbalized thought that is expressed through the sounds of our spoken words. This can be done in person, or by telephone or video conferences, etc.

The non-verbal type of communication is the message we send, consciously or unconsciously, around our words, like gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions and physical appearance. This can be seen in person or through other means of tele-transmission.

The written type of communication is simply the words that we put into written forms. This can be through letters, memos, reports, emails, books, etc. It can only be read by the one receiving the communication (or heard by someone reading it to the receiver). This too can carry a non-verbal (non-written) tone that can be misread.

The visual type of communication is the addition of specially designed graphics or diagrams or illustrations to describe, explain or support, in a visual format, the subject that is being spoken or written about.

Then within the number two primary communication exchanged through industrial systems, we can extract the following secondary types of communication in accordance with the communication description above: A) Transportation by truck, ships and planes; B) Transmission of symbols and files by other means such as computer and Internet; C) Transmission of verbal, non-verbal, written and visual by way of television, radio and other industrial and commercial means.

So, right here, we already have two primary types of communication and seven secondary types of communication. And we could easily come up with some more. Because communication goes far beyond our commonly known verbal, non-verbal, written and visual four types of communication. /dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Barriers To Effective Communication – And How To Overcome Them

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Just as multi-faceted communication itself is, the barriers to effective communication can be just as wide and deep. They can be physical or psychological, individual or social.

Some people have problems communicating which in turn brings the worse in others. If you have two people with good communication skills relating to each other, the conversation or the relation can be just as effective, wonderful and enjoyable as it can be. But the moment you pair one good communicator together with one bad, you create barriers to effective communication.

Some of the barriers are tangled into a problem of individual attitude. This can be the result of rebelling against poor communication coming from management in a work place environment, or parents at home, or a spouse, or friends in other personal areas.

Some people may have psychological problems from personal health or struggles. Communication barriers can come from language misunderstandings stemming from cultural differences, etc. They can be linguistics which is the use or misuse of uncommon or difficult words. They can be from types of personality which is a major player in creating barriers to effective communication.

All these can be found within personal, interpersonal, social, organizational, etc., making for a myriad of barriers to effective communication that one can avoid only through learning and training.

Some of the difficulties might be from a lack of sensitivity either from a sender or a receiver’s point of view, or a lack of basic communication skills, or a lack of knowledge on a subject matter that one might be too proud to admit.

Other communication difficulties may be from emotional instabilities such as anger, hostility, resentfulness, fear, mood swings. All of these create conflicts and barriers to effective communication. As you can see, there is no limit to this subject list.

But the good news in all of it is that something can be done about overcoming these barriers. There is room for improving our communication skills, no matter at what level we are. Even a professor in communication can have problems communicating, because of one or another of the areas listed above.

The barriers to effective communication could be called just as well, the problems to effective communication. So we need to ask ourselves, what are the problems that I’m finding in communicating with others? As we list the problems, it is important to recognize which side those problems belong to. You might have a problem communicating with someone at work because he/she can’t communicate.

Communication is a two-way street. If you are the only one communicating, it will be pretty difficult to resolve the problems. Then what do you do? Send the individual to a communication course? Teach them how to communicate every time there is a misunderstanding, a conflict or no communication at all? They may not be too receptive to the idea.

Sometimes, the only thing we can do in such cases is to ignore, give understanding, forgive and work around it. But with the problems or barriers to effective communication that fall squarely on us, the thing to do is to start working on them through taking courses and seminars, reading books, etc. Then the next most important factor is to put what we learn into relentless practice – one problem or barrier at a time./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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History Of Communication – In Quirks And Quartz

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

The history of communication is a large subject to cover. Communication encompasses so many facets that it is not possible to cover it all in its diversity of topics. Its history is just as far and wide reaching, but I’ll share the following with you.

History books tell us that we do not have any written record of man’s development beyond approximately three thousand years BC. That is when we begin to read about some of the history of communication as it was written from that time onward.

It is obvious that people communicated, verbally and nonverbally, before that time. We do find archaeological tablets of Phoenicians origins showing pictographs and hieroglyphic writings dating back some thirty five thousand years. But only from written records available do we know anything about ancient times.

To corroborate this three thousand years of recorded accounts, my research on the history of communication took me to historical beginnings from around twenty-nine hundred BC. So where do we place our focus on the history of communication – verbal, nonverbal?

For this article, we touch on written communication and its means, which entail the Greek phonetic alphabet to Chinese writings on bones dating back to fourteen hundred BC; the first encyclopedia written in Syria circa late twelve hundred BC; the first postal service in China around nine hundred BC.

Then we read about first recordings of homing pigeons to communicate messages, the first library, the first portable writing surfaces known as papyrus – all between the eight to one hundreds BC from the Greek civilization.

Even before that, humans rode on horseback or on foot relaying communication messages from stations to stations throughout Egypt and China and anywhere else that followed suit in the broad expanse of the old world.

Then of course in the more recent centuries of our AD era, we have the inventions of heliographs, the Gutenberg printing press, first image making, first newspapers, first typewriters, books and paper as we know it, the telegraph line, the talking machine, the morse code, mimeograph equipment, telephone, radio, motion picture, television, computer, and everything in between that is not mentioned here – right up to our present Internet wonder.

So you can see what I mean about communication being an unlimited subject to write about. Every step of the development in the history of communication and every facet of communication can be written about directly, individually and collectively forever.

But I want to tell you about one of my own little time facet of the history of communication that I came across in a news item today.

It is about a man who was a punctuality fanatic. When I heard the story, I was really excited. Why? Because, I too, am a punctuality fanatic. That’s an important part of communication. I really do not appreciate when people are late for meetings or seminars, etc. I was at a community meeting just last Saturday which was announced to begin at 11 am. As usually, I arrived to sign up about five minutes before eleven. At 11:30 the meeting had still not begun.

With each passing moment, I was getting more and more agitated and frustrated at the lack of leadership. “Why don’t they get started”, I repeated to my husband who came along for the ride. I find it very discourteous, and downright rude, to let the people who are there on time, go beyond schedule for the sake of a few undisciplined, unprofessional and disrespectful time robbers.

Time is money to business people. And that’s what folks do when they don’t show up on time -- they rob others of their time and the cost of it.

But the biggest blame has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the leaders who should start promptly whether those late comers are there or not. And don’t flatter them either when they do stroll in late. If people who run meetings would stick to the scheduled time and agenda, folks would get the message and we would become a more punctual society.

So what is the name of my double on punctuality fanaticism in this current history of communication bit? His name was Sir Thomas Roddick. He was a renowned surgeon and the Dean of Medicine from 1901 to 1908 at McGill University. It is written about him that he would arrive at a lecture a few minutes early and then walk through the door on the dot. Isn’t that the kind of surgeon you want yours to be? Oh that we would have more of these professional people around!

The news item of the day was that for the 85th anniversary of the Roddick Gates at the University, the clocks and bells in its tower were re-started at a ceremony on October 1, 2010, after decades of stillness. So this is just another part of the history of communication in its time facet. And I was glad to be a part of it and to find out that I’m not the only punctuality fanatic./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/. Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Communication Process – Understanding the Codes

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

There are as many communication process models as there are descriptions of communication. Communication, as a system of sending and receiving, can be applied to a multitude of forms and formats, within the verbal and nonverbal human language to the technological scientific channels and elements.

Every human being communicates. Depending on our upbringing, some communicate better than others. Personally, I came into adulthood with the very basic communication elements I received from my very basic parents and family life. I learned communication skills after I recognized that I needed more communication ability than what I had.

As I learned more about communication through work experience, reading and training, I became more interested in it, because it is indeed a fascinating and endless field of discovery. I have observed that in life, the most successful people are the ones who can communicate best.

And this does not mean to talk more. Remember communication is verbal and nonverbal. By talking more we just make more noise. Sometimes the most impacting parts of our communication are the most silent. Understanding the communication process, can help us improve our communication ability and skills.

Basic communication is the sending and receiving of messages. It therefore requires a sender and a receiver. Of all the communication process models I’ve seen and read about, I have to say that I like the one presented in my book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training”. It is the process that is likened to the communication that takes place automatically within our fearfully and wonderfully made body.

Here, the activities of the communication process are like the neurons inside our nervous system that receive a stimulus. The sender is like the stimulus that sends the communication activity received by the receiver. The receiver then interprets the response that the stimulus ultimately created.

For example, to put it simply, neurons inside the body receive a stimulus -- like a hot iron on the finger for instance -- pass it on to other neurons along the nervous system, which make the connection all along to the muscles to be contracted, which then produces the ultimate response of the retraction of the finger from the burning sensation.

In between all of these activities are codes that are automatically opened and closed as they go from stimulus to neurons to connections to responses.

In the same manner we respond to our communication process taking place between human sender and receiver. Some of that communication is automatic, as within our nervous system, and some is learned.

When we are a baby, we don’t know that the iron is hot and we may extend our finger to it having no clue of the pain that will ensue. But once experienced, we’ve learned what we now know and we will not do it again. We’ve learned a new code.

By the same token, before we ever tasted a peach, we have no idea what the sensation is. Then someone gives us a piece of this ripe, juicy, sweet fruit and our response is ‘yummy’. And here, we do want to do it again. We’ve learned another type of code.

In the communication process, we learn the codes of what’s bad and what’s good and also what works and what doesn’t. We learn that certain words and behaviours produce a good, constructive response in the other person or activity. And some produce a bad, destructive response. We now know what to do and what avoid.

And so the communication process continues to grow and improve as we learn through our mistakes and through training. /dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Informal Communication – How It Differs From Formal Communication

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

Both informal communication and formal communication take place in any organization whether it be business or our personal family lives. But we need to recognize the difference.

Informal communication is casual and spontaneous, whereas formal communication is more thought-out and prepared from learned experiences or organized training that present rules and conventions authoritated by business and formal etiquette.

Informal communication comes from communication activities outside of those formally learned at home through discipline, or at school through education, or in business through our own personal experiences and formal training.

It falls under the social communication of grapevines and rumours, casual conversations and inter-relational activities outside of the formal or public arenas.

We do not behave the same way at work as we do at home or at play. I always say that people are at their best at work. We really don’t know someone until we’ve stayed with them outside of work for a few days—or a few hours even, with some people.

Informal communication may not be as reliant as formal communication where more accountability is expected. In an organizational setting, such as business, or association and the like, communication is connected with official status-quo or protocols of the formal channels of structure and culture which the line of manager/subordinate reporting system is expectedly accepted.

In order to understand informal communication, we need to understand formal communication and then realize that informal communication is what takes place without the formal addition of convention and ceremonies.

In business the different forms of formal communication include departmental functionality, activities taking place within meeting and conference settings, verbal and written communication through telephone, memos and bulletins, etc.

It is safe to also recognize that informal communication may be vulnerable to being deceptive and imprecise in its casualness – conscious or unconscious. In a formal setting, people take the time to recognize the consequences of transmitting any wrong or incomplete information. But in an informal setting, the quality of communication may be affected by the more relaxed or careless attitude or behaviour.

However, both formal and informal communication is found in an organization, depending on the level of business experience and training one possesses in his or her personal life. An organization can make efficient use of informal communication by confirming and affirming that which is being communicated by the untrained or less trained individual.

Informal communication, like formal communication can be expressed verbally or non-verbally by words, tone of voice, signs such as glances and gestures and even silence. For the purpose of effective communication, one needs to identify and affirm anything that may be communicated, if unsure of the true meaning behind the communicator./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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Communication In The Workplace - Improving One Increment at a Time

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d./th.

The majority of people in the workplace (or anywhere for that matter) communicate at a very shallow surface level. That includes those in senior management. Studies have shown that most people communicate at 50% effectiveness -- even in a two-way communication. I venture to say that it is often less than that. But we can improve our communication in the workplace, one increment at a time.

Just think how often you are frustrated by your boss, your peers or colleagues, on a daily basis. How many times are you misunderstood? How many times do you have to explain that you didn't mean something the way it was perceived or received by your listener? Even worse, how many times have you been interrupted to never have had the chance to get back to that important discussion where you wanted to clear yourself of a misunderstanding?

Often, even the explanation of a misunderstanding is misunderstood or received with arguments -- sometimes angrily, sometimes silently. How many times have you kept silent rather than risking offending someone as you would genuinely try to find out where a misunderstanding came from, or try to explain your position.

Experts in linguistics say that people learn languages in their cultural environments and as they grow up they make, maintain and break relationships by talk - males and females having differences in communicating. Communication is a complex subject and vulnerable to the spoken and written words. The novelist E. M. Forster said, "A pause in the wrong place, an intonation misunderstood, and a whole conversation went awry."

In a telephone call to an associate, one day, I left a message on his answering machine to call me back. Somehow, he had been given a phone number which was a business line used for a specific on-going project located in another part of the building; I had subsequently explained to him, that he should not use this number and gave him the one he should call.

However on this particular day, when I called him, I was temporarily working from the first number location and left the message on the tape to call me on that number, at that particular time. When he called me back a few moments later, he called on the other line which was in the other location. What did that tell me? That he did not "listen" to the message on his answering machine. (Just like many don't read their memos or emails). They listen or read hastily and in part only.

This was indeed confirmed later. But, I could have "assumed" he did not listen properly. If I hadn't found it important enough to pursue the incident in order to clarify, I might have wrongly perceived this of him. It could have been that he was not careless at all, but that the tape on the answering machine broke or ended before the explanation about the phone number came on. This would have disclosed my wrong assumption, which would have meant that if I don't know something, I should not assume.

Of course we don't always deduce and analyze our conversations in such details during our daily activities. Who has the time? However being aware of these possibilities, and including this awareness in our philosophical way of thinking, (thinking before receiving) will help us operate in a realm of understanding at all times -- a second nature as it were.

Improving communication is about awareness and doing the little things, many times a day, that will add up to make us communicate better. The goal should be to improve from our current 50% to 100%, one increment at a time./dmh

Article Copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may print this article making sure to include the following bio without any changes.

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and author of the 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Diane also provides a 2-part e-book version of her printed book, "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as many free articles which can be seen at her blog at http://contextual-communication-hrd.blogspot.com/.

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