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Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It by Phil Simon

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6Don’t Call It a ParadigmGuidelines for Effective Business Communication

The ability to express an idea is well nigh as important as the idea itself.

—Bernard Baruch

Imagine that your mother is undergoing what should be a routine appendectomy. You are not a doctor but the hospital has agreed to let you watch the procedure. All appears to be going well, although you’re a bit lost. You’ve never even heard of the words the staff is using: gastrointestinal tract, pneumoperitoneum, and peritoneal cavity.

All of a sudden, an unexpected, life-threatening complication ensues. Two surgeons discuss the best way to deal with it. They move around the room quickly, speaking in a rapid-fire style replete with a shorthand you can’t begin to follow. You are justifiably scared for your mother’s well-being, but you take some comfort in the fact that the members of the surgical team are effectively communicating with one another. They understand these polysyllabic medical terms even though you don’t.

This story illustrates that there are times in which speaking in everyday English is not desirable or even possible. This book stresses the merits of simplicity in language in business contexts. At the same time, though, there is no one right way to communicate.

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