Book Review: Shut Up and Listen – Theobald and Cooper

shutupAt a time when our technology allows us to communicate so readily, why is it that we feel so isolated, confused and poorly informed than at any other time?

So a book that provides leaders, managers and we mere mortals with a clear description of how to communicate with clarity and impact is more than overdue.

Shut Up and Listen: Communication with Impact provides that clarity in how to get your point across easily and simply no matter the medium.

Theobald and Cooper have demonstrated exactly how to communicate well, not only in the various chapters and sections within the book but also in the elegance in the fabric of the writing itself.  Kept to clear succinct prose, Theobald and Cooper deal not only with the Sherman strategy of writing but also with the tactics of how to craft a message.
Littered with examples, case studies, metaphors And comments, the authors leverage not only their considerable skill but also the knowledge and observations of and expert panel; key people and captains of industry that know the importance of clear communications. Easily read and simple to follow guidelines and examples, ensure the reader is neither bored nor confused.

In Section 1, the authors explain key revelations that often influence the quality of communications. These are a list of factors that have an impact on the parity and impact of a message.

These factors include:

  • The need for directness
  • The power of story telling
  • The importance of passion in delivery

Section also explores a series of communications styles that we might each use, almost like a mask when we communicate. Although there are several styles here, they are decidedly on the negative IDE and appear as a less than comprehensive list. Still thy are useful lenses though which o view our individual communication attempts.

Section 2 is very different to section 1 and is very much a comprehensive manual on how to communicate.  The key point is to ensure the message received by the other person is exactly what was meant. It is also important that the information is presented in a form and format that is readily absorbed and understood.

The areas addressed include most of the contemporary communications channels such as email and twitter as well as the more familiar phone, writing and reading.
The main areas discussed are:

  • Getting the most from your reading – we often miss much and learn little from how we read now and often read ever hits our desk without discrimination.
  • Writing with clarity – for the reader rather than for us.
  • Persuasion – in it’s many forms.
  • Writing for email, text, web and the new technologies – exploiting these media rather than suffering from them.
  • How to listen more effectively – rather than merely waiting to talk.
  • How to talk – to communicate rather than just filled the gap in the noise.
  • First impressions, body language and culture – we communicate as much with our approach and behaviour as with our words.

Richly filled with examples and comment, this section is very much a manual on “how to communicate with impact”.

Section 3 seems almost out of place in this book. While the rest of he text seems well researched and presented, this section seems almost a last minute addition to fill in areas of application that may have been better placed earlier in the text or integrated into the main body.

Theobald and Cooper discuss the importance of planning how we communicate rather than doing it unconsciously. The authors then slip into a discussion on basic productivity, to do lists and planning your day which is decidedly off topic.

The last chapter, the last 4 pages in fact, discuss 6 “strategies” on how to apply the lessons presented earlier.
These are merely guidelines or factors to consider rather than a communications strategy and actually detract from an otherwise strong discussion on how to communicate with impact.

This shouldn’t put the reader off this book however as the value of the book really is in the second section. This really is the meat in the sandwich, sections 1 and 3 being wrappers around a very tasty filling.

Overall, this is a clear and useful book helping leaders, managers and we mere mortals craft our communication for clarity and impact, no matter the medium.

Certainly a worthwhile addition to the leader’s library.

Rated: 7/10

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