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Communication Skills

© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

December 2005

Many years ago, my wife had a resume typing business. She'd worked for a head hunter placement firm, so had plenty of experience rewriting and polishing resumes.

The resumes would come in typed or printed on yellow lined paper, sometimes neat and needing little work, sometimes very poorly done. I'll always remember one in particular, though. It was the "Objective" paragraph that my wife showed to me:

Objective: To work in a company where my real good communication skills will be appreciated

Of course we laughed. My wife said "I have to change that", but I said "No, anyone considering hiring him needs to know about his 'real good' skills". Well, of course we came up with a slightly different objective, and had to make sweeping edits to the rest of the resume.

Communication skills are important. Vocabulary, sentence structure and of course meaning are important elements, but the most important part is tailoring what you say to what your audience is able to hear. For example, I usually deal with technical people. Tech folk want the facts and don't want a lot of extraneous detail unless they specifically request elaboration. Short and to the point is what they want. However, if I fall into that mode when talking to a sales or management type, I'm apt to get complaints that I'm being too terse, leaving out "important details" (the same details the tech folk would consider unnecessary, of course). I need to adjust my communication to meet their expectations, and honestly, I don't always remember to do that.

That's OK. None of us are perfect, and we will sometimes have communication problems. Just remember that if you are being paid by someone, the communication problem belongs to you: you need to fix whatever is wrong and give them what they want.

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While modern technology has given people powerful new communication tools, it apparently can do nothing to alter the fact that many people have nothing useful to say. (Leo Gomes)

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