Blog: Content that makes you happy

How to understand a bad communicator: active listening

Boss and stenographer, 1896, MetLife Office NY

It takes two to communicate! How do you work with people whose communications are incomprehensible?

Maybe they send you cryptic emails ... smother you with gobbledegook ... expect you to read their minds ... give you mixed messages ... confuse opinion with fact ... 

Whatever the cause, you just don't understand what they mean.

And whatever their communication crimes, the solution is the same: active listening. That's much more than just absorbing the words they utter. It means playing an active part in the communication, taking the lead so that you get the information you need.

1. Pay close attention: the message may be buried somewhere in a grunt or a raised eyebrow or a P.S.

2. Prompt them for clarification.

  • So what do you need me to do right now?
  • I don't quite understand.
  • What do you mean, exactly?
  • Who? What? When? Where? How much? Why? 

3. Paraphrase what you think the other person means. Don't repeat their exact phrases: use your own words. Find an approach that feels comfortable for you.

  • So what you're saying is...
  • Have I got this right? ...
  • I need help here. Do you mean that ...

RESULT: you get the information straight.

BONUS: you make those bad communicators aware of the problem and may even help them to improve.


Image: Boss and stenographer, 1896, MetLife Office New York.

With regards to a grammar question

Man says "With regards to", thinks "What will I say?" Hello, can you help me with a grammar question? What is the difference between: With regards to beauty, attitude is more important than appearance and  A beautiful attitude is more important than a beautiful appearance.

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How do you write useful survey questions? Good question!

Senior person conducting street survey. Noah KazisWhat is a useful survey question? Without any context, that's a meaningless question. You can't just click your fingers and
produce the perfect questionnaire. As always, a writing process is involved, step by step.

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Save your intranet project: start training content authors today

1950s women waving. Copyright holder unknown.Your intranet is being redeveloped. Everything is going OK except for the content, which is unsatisfactory, late or non-existent. Start training them tomorrow, and make everyone happy.

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Reward, retrain and retain talent says Ortus HR: now’s good!

Nike crowns athlete; public domain image

Attracting and retaining talented staff is a major problem for companies. Last year’s report by recruitment firm Ortus shows that HR worldwide struggles to retain staff, and headhunting is rife.

This report (many like others) pinpoints career development as the greatest incentive for leaving an organisation. So that’s a top reason for offering targeted training to new staff and others.

Training staff in modern writing skills has never been easier

HR managers tell us that staff are impressed by Contented online courses, citing personal satisfaction and immediate benefits at work. Managers are impressed with the results in clear writing and accessible web content, and they love the ease of administration.

Today, a one-day sale — buy now and register staff when convenient

Quick! Our high quality CPD-accredited courses are half price for 20th February only. You can purchase a number of places for your staff now online or by invoice, and register individual employees any time during the next 12 months.

Retaining staff through learning and development

Image of Nike crowning an athlete: in the public domain

Tablet-friendly online writing courses: half-price soon but not for long

Commuter studying on an iPad in US, UK or CanadaWhere do you prefer to study? If you work all day at a desktop computer, you probably prefer to study in a different location, different posture. That's easy with Contented courses, now that they're in HTML5 and can be studied on tablets and smartphones too.

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Commercial websites must soon be accessible to all

Wheelchair ramp to an online grocery store.A momentous shift is underway in the U.S. Increasingly, website accessibility is
seen as subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Very soon, formal web standards will apply to commercial as well as government websites.

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