Authors: James Robbins and Barbara Jones
Publisher: Chain Store Publishing
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
James Robbins and Barbara Jones, co-authors of this book are business communication experts of note sought after the world over, especially in the United States of America.
According to Robbins and Jones, you need to stop for a moment and think about your day on your job. They say you should try to remember each problem, task, conversation and interview as well as entire scope and variety of things you had to do. These authors add that you should also remember the phone calls and talks with salespeople and other groups of people.
Robbins and Jones say you should also recall the time spent on your monthly report and the letter of recommendation you wrote for one of your former employees.
These authors submit that the point they are drawing at is that you have spent most of your time involved in some kind of communication activity during the day. They stress that that hardly comes as a surprise to you, but now that you look back over the list, it may surprise you to see that almost everything you did can be called communication. According to Robbins and Jones, research has confirmed that the average manager spends between 70 and 80 per cent of his or her time in one form of communication or the other, which may be talking, listening, reading or writing.
These authors assert that all organisations, no matter what their size or scope, are held together by and perform their functions through the process of communication. According to Robbins and Jones, communication is the channel of influence, the mechanism of change, the means of motivation and the socialising agent that enables an organisation to reach its goal. They reflect that without communication, there can be no interpersonal interaction, no groups, government, not even a society as we know it today.
Structurally, this text is segmented into ten chapters. Chapter one is entitled The big picture – communicatively speaking. According to Robbins and Jones here, “As a manager, you are well aware that much research and money have gone into the art and science of effective packaging. A package attracts, reminds, informs, and sells.”
These authors ask what happens when we try to package and deliver an idea, submitting that transferring information, thoughts and feelings is not so simple. According to them, “Rather than being a product, communication is a process. Rather than being a specific item which can be handled from one person to another, communication is a dynamic, flowing, ever-changing phenomenon.”
Other concepts discussed in this chapter are misconceptions about communication; getting the message from one head to another as being not that easy; the communication process; and some causes of communication breakdown.
Chapter two focuses on person-to-person communication technically referred to as “interpersonal communication”. These authors ask in this chapter how managers manage, and reply that the question can be answered in various ways, depending on the person you ask.
According to Robbins and Jones, “One thing is sure, however; and that is whoever manager are (sic) or whatever management style they follow, their work is never cut-and-dried and never an impersonal process…managers manage people; it is through these people that a business succeeds or fails. A manager’s primary responsibility is the development of a team which works with the manager rather than for him or her. If the manager can accomplish this, the likelihood of realising the maximum return from individuals achieving the goals of the organisation is greatly enhanced.”
In chapters three to six of this text, these authors analytically X-ray concepts of messages and meanings; communicating without words; feedback and understanding; and sharpening communications skills.
Chapter seven is entitled Interviewing and management. According to Robbins and Jones here, “A simple definition of an interview is a planned conversation. It is an interaction in which two, and sometimes more, people are engaging in a conversation or dialogue with a purpose. Each participant is seeking to get or to give information pertaining to a common goal. Interviewing takes many forms and has many purposes. For instance, you may interview to recruit, to select employees for different jobs, or to reassign employees to new positions. You also may conduct appraisal interviews and exit interviews.”
These authors submit that communication in an interview is different from that of other face-to-face interactions in that it focuses on specific information and attempts to eliminate extraneous messages.
Chapters eight to ten of this text are based on the subject matters of making the most of meetings; decisions; and communicating up, down and across. In this last chapter, the concepts of formal and informal systems; directional flow of communication; downward flow of communication; upward flow of communication; facilitating upward communication; the upward communication of the manager; written upward communication; oral upward communication and communication with peers are analysed.
Conceptually, this text is outstanding. Now on the mode of presentation. The language of this book is simple. This is expected given that it is a book on communication and the authors themselves are apostles of stylistic simplicity. The concepts discussed are logically presented and reflect a high level of research. What’s more, Robbins and Jones employ graphic embroidery for visual reinforcement of understanding. To conform to academic requirement, the index section is included to reflect word appearances and specific pages. One of the structural strengths of this text is the proper segmentation of concepts and sub-concepts to achieve visual seduction and erase likely boredom on readers’ part.
However, a grammatical error of concord “…whoever manager are or whatever management style they follow, their work is never cut-and-dried…”(page ten) instead of (1) “…whoever managers are or whatever management style they follow, their work is never cut-and-dried…” or (2) “…whoever a manager is or whatever management style he or she follows, his or her work is never cut-and-dried…”
In spite of this error, these authors’ efforts are intellectually commendable.
This book is a must-read for managers, leaders, and even anybody that wants to acquire business communication skills. It is simply irresistible!
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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