Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Verbal communication

Today's Lunch 'n' Learn was a seminar on the subject of effective verbal communication in the office, which I expected to be a pablum waste of time. In reality, it was surprisingly interesting, and even a bit useful.

Probably the most intriguing part of it was the quiz handed out at the beginning, which listed 20 *bad* habits in communication, and asked you to rate yourself on each, with a scale of 0 (I never do this) to 5 (I do this all the time). Fascinating opportunity for introspection, and I couldn't honestly rate myself 0 on anything. I think I do reasonably well at avoiding some bad habits (absence of substance, bullying, insincerity -- by and large, practices that feel vaguely dishonorable to me, so I avoid them very carefully), but am a bit more prone to some others (preaching, using cliches, excessive information -- mainly, stuff that can lead to being boring).

The other rather interesting exercise was assigning everyone into groups of three, and assigning each group to talk about what each person's *best* strength in communication was. I wound up paired with Jim, our tech writer, and Ildi, our head of training, so we were a pretty communicative bunch. Their assessment of me was that my primary strength was that they always feel like I know what I'm talking about when I speak -- which on the one hand is flattering, and on the other hand implies a slightly scary responsibility. It's good to know that folks take me seriously, but underscores the need to avoid BS'ing, because folks might believe me when I'm just talking through my hat. I am very good at sounding confident -- sometimes more confident than I really feel. So that's something to be careful about.

Overall, it struck me rather like an Agile seminar does: I didn't really *learn* much that is new and different (my apprenticeship to baron_steffan was mainly in rhetoric and philosophy, so I do know the subject moderately well), but the session served as a nice reminder of both good and bad approaches. One can always use a refresher of best practices, to help avoid falling into bad habits...
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