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  • Writer's pictureDel Chatterson

A good chat. Is it Art or Science?  

Good communication is essential to the success of almost every endeavor. If it’s

not done well, it may not be obvious what the consequences are, but miscommunication can often explain the less-than-satisfactory results.

I recently wrote on the power of storytelling to create a memorable message and get through to your audience. Your purpose may be to persuade, sell, inform, advise, teach, coach, or manage, but storytelling is mostly one-way communication, with minimal feedback from the audience.

At some point, you will have to have the chat in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion and achieve the objective of changing attitudes or behaviour. If that’s not the purpose of the conversation, then a friendly chat is easy – no pressure to make your point, just get it off your chest and walk away from any objections or controversy.

But what about those uncomfortable conversations on subjects that are important to both parties and on which they do not agree? That's where it’s necessary to exercise both the art and the science of effective conversation.

What are your guiding principles? The usual clichés are a good start: Listen twice as much as you speak. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care.

Recent research and analysis of good communication offers some additional suggestions based on more informed science and more nuanced art in conversation: Stop preparing your well-reasoned response and listen to the reasoning behind the point being made. Spend more time on the content of your presentation than the packaging – PowerPoint or not. Empathize – get personal, dig deeper, turn strangers into friends. Seek consensus on the plan and objectives before sending the team into action. Avoid stereotyping and making assumptions about your audience without confirming what they really think and why.


Those are all good principles too, but be reasonable and practical. Democracy is not efficient and sometimes the simple and obvious answer is popular, but wrong, or was already pre-determined by the presenter of the question.

Leaders ultimately will still have to make unpopular or difficult choices with severe consequences for some of the audience. Welcome to management, it comes with the territory. And good communicators will find a way to deliver even the bad news with a minimum of misunderstandings.   

Avoid the mistakes.


Be better. Do Better. Be an Enlightened Entrepreneur.


Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

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