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In this episode, JoDee and Susan speak with Linda Comerford about business communications. Topics include why communication skills are consistently among the most sought after by businesses worldwide, the myths we learn in high school English classes, emotional intelligence, and oral grammar. Linda has more than 30 years of Business Communications teaching experience, including two star pupils – JoDee and Susan!
Businesses routinely value communications skills as a top priority when looking to hire leaders, but more and more, professionals find public speaking, presentations, and writing as the ultimate pain points in their careers. Public speaking is even listed as many people’s number one fear, ahead of snakes, spiders, and even death. Where is the disconnect here? According to Linda, this is rooted in our education system, where English classes have begun to shy away from these crucial skills in favor of more literature focused curriculum.
Unfortunately, many “laws” of grammar we do learn in school are myths. Were you taught that starting a sentence with “because” was a mortal sin? Think again! Were you taught that “one” should be substituted for “you” in formal writing? You’ve gotta be kidding me! Did your teacher let you drop the comma before “and” in a list of three or more things? Better put that back; falling on the wrong side of the Oxford comma debate can even lead to lawsuits. When writing, perhaps even more important than grammar and punctuation, says Linda, is the “so what, who cares?” test. Whether you are writing a State of the Union address or a customer service email, you must keep in mind your audience and your purpose for writing. If your correspondence cannot pass the rigorous standards of “so what, who cares,” it might be time for you to reconsider pressing send on that email.
For another key to succeeding in the workplace, Linda takes us back a century or so to the original definition of communication: “interacting with others with kindness and caring.” Somewhere along the way, we lost the second part of that definition, which led Linda to create a course she calls “Communi-Caring,” where she teaches students how to be better colleagues, how to give and receive feedback, and other valuable lessons on emotional intelligence. Self perception, decision making, problem solving, and stress tolerance are all a part of this crucial bundle of skills, and they factor into everything you do as a professional.
In today’s listener question, JoDee and Susan field a tricky problem involving an anonymous tip and a romantic relationship between an executive and an employee that reports directly to him. In the news, a Wall Street Journal article by Francesca Gino implores professionals to not only dive into case studies about projects that failed, but also to do post-mortems on initiatives that succeeded. After all, it’s important to understand what went right if you’d like to recreate your success.
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Loved the reminders of grammar that we may have forgotten or didn’t know that changed.