The Smart Thinking Book: Communication

The Smart Thinking Book: Communication is the third of The Smart Thinking Book review series. Communication is crucial when working in a team. In addition to that, good communication helps spread information within a team and organization effectively. Hence, it is the single most important element for a coherent organization.

The Smart Thinking Book: Communication

I find the following pieces of advice in this chapter useful:

  1. ROI: Respect = Opinion + Inquiry
  2. Do we really need this?
  3. Power of sequence
  4. Saying vs hearing
  5. First question, then big pause.

ROI: Respect = Opinion + Inquiry

Communication works both ways. So does respect. In order to communicate effectively, speaking and listening respectfully is important. Before you say something, take a moment to be in the perspective of the listener. After that, presenting it in a way where the listener understands. The more tactfully the message is presented, the more constructive a response is.

For example, begin an idea with “I have a view worth hearing, but I may be missing something”. Offering an opinion or scope an idea, and then making it clear that the listener is capable of responding constructively. This will set the tone for the listener being more receptive to the initial idea. Not only that, it provides the environment to bounce ideas off the original opinion. This results in a chance to improve on the existing ideas. Blending opinion with inquiry will improve the idea and the chances of receiving the idea.

Do We Really Need This?

I am not a fan of long meetings. This is because meetings are inefficient hours. Instead, what we should aim is to spend more time on execution. Meetings are important for aligning execution plans and ensure that we get the purpose right.

Getting the purpose clear sets an expectation and clear goals to everyone. It helps to provide a reference where you can measure if the activity is helpful to the goal. With that in mind, this serves as a prevention from getting into “This is how we do things” trap. And when people gets too comfortable on doing things without questioning, this becomes a policy of doing things. In essence questioning whether we really need something helps. Otherwise, we will find ourselves turning bollocks today, into policy tomorrow.

Power of sequence

Communication stems from getting your idea across to your listener. A clear and well structured message is important to aid understanding. As we cannot mind read people, keep messages simple. Next, try sequencing your sentences. A very good example of this is the Pixar pitch:

  1. Once upon a time, A
  2. Every day, B.
  3. One day, C.
  4. Because of that, D.
  5. Because of that, E.
  6. Until finally, F.

When you structure your messages well, it brings more clarity to your message. Consequently, clearer explanation leads to effective communication.

It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear

Firstly, communication starts with an idea inside your head (Process A). Then, you transform your idea into speech (B). After that, the recipient listens to the message (C). Finally, the recipient interprets the message (D).

From idea to interpretation, there can be a distortion of the message. What you say might not be fully reflective of your initial idea (A to B). Also, different people will interpret the same message differently (C to D). As a matter of fact, effective communication depends on how accurate A is to D. Hence, it is critical to ensure that when you are speaking (B), the listener is getting it correctly (C). This is why it is important to explain in an engaging way as it ensures clearer comprehension (B = C).

First question, big pause

Silence is awkward. That is why we tend to speak continuously in order to avoid silence. However, you need to give time for the listeners to process the information. Don’t dive in to fill a conversation with noise. Instead of aiding understanding, keeping the words flowing makes things worse. This is because listeners will need to pay attention listening to noise and lose track of the main points.

Next time, take a pause. Think and say something thoughtful instead.


That’s all for my summary of Smart Thinking Book: Communication. While I work on the next article, Smart Thinking Book: Innovation, feel free to drop any feedback in the comments section or visit my previous article, Smart Thinking Book: Growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *