Mastering Communication at Work Book Summary - Mastering Communication at Work Book explained in key points
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Mastering Communication at Work summary

Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann

How to Lead, Manage, and Influence

4.5 (586 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

'Mastering Communication at Work' by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann is a guidebook for improving communication skills in the workplace. It offers practical techniques to overcome common communication challenges and build stronger relationships with colleagues.

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    Mastering Communication at Work
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    Deductive and inductive thinkers communicate differently – so you should adapt.

    What type of thinker are you? Here’s a quick test.

    Your co-worker comes up and tells you about a family dinner, at which his mother-in-law said he should start jogging. So he went to the mall, had trouble parking, and visited a few stores. After trying several on, he bought a lovely pair of white sneakers.

    He’s going to break them in this afternoon, but wonders about the weather. So he asks, “Do you think it’ll rain?”

    How are you feeling? If you’re rolling your eyes at all that detail, you’re a deductive thinker. But if you see where your co-worker is coming from, your tendency is inductive.

    The key message here is: Deductive and inductive thinkers communicate differently – so you should adapt.

    In the example, your co-worker is a pretty extreme inductive thinker. Inductive thinkers need context: it would feel wrong to him to ask, “Do you think it’ll rain?” without first explaining why he’s asking. A milder inductive thinker might simply say, “Hey, I don’t want to get my new pair of sneakers wet. Do you think it’ll rain?”

    On the other hand, deductive thinkers prefer details straight up: an extreme deductive thinker might just look at you and say, “Rain?” She might then provide context, but that’ll come second.

    Neither type of thinking is superior – they’re just different. Problems only occur when people don’t take each other’s tendencies into account. So as well as knowing your own tendency, you need to know your colleagues’. A good manager learns the tendencies of their team, and communicates with each of them appropriately.

    The same applies to presentations. Say you have to give the board a choice between cuts and a new round of fundraising. How do you do it – go straight in, or cushion the blow?

    It depends on how the board members think – although a majority of board-level people tend to think deductively. So it might well be best to present the key point right at the start, before rowing back and giving the context the inductive thinkers need.

    That’s not all it takes to give a good presentation, of course. It’s always vital to be upfront with your listeners about what you’ll be telling them, how long it’ll take, and why the presentation will be worth their time. Also offer a clear, actionable summary.

    But a master communicator will always be adapting to their audience’s inductive or deductive tendencies. Because communicating isn’t just about you: it’s about the people you’re talking to.

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    What is Mastering Communication at Work about?

    Mastering Communication at Work (revised edition, 2021) is a classic guide on leading in the workplace through strong communication skills. It teaches you how to communicate effectively by understanding your listener’s tendencies and motivations.

    Who should read Mastering Communication at Work?

    • Managers looking for new communication tactics
    • Employees aiming to make the next step up
    • Executives who want to improve relations with staff

    About the Author

    Ethan F. Becker has worked with Apple, IBM, the FBI, and many other organizations, as president and senior coach/trainer for the Speech Improvement Company. 

    Jon Wortmann is an executive coach, speaker, and trainer, who has consulted for organizations from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits.

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