Communications Crash Course

Book Review by Lisa Chestnut Fort Huachuca, AZ

Author: Alixander Laffredo-Dietrich


Summary: In the book the author introduces research and develops strategies for conversations to help build confidence in your abilities to handle communicating at various levels and situations. The book is broken down into three parts. Part I is the theory behind communication. Part II introduces the eleven strategies and puts the theories into action. Part III is using a variety of exercises to help achieve better confidence in your communication techniques.


Part I of the book helps to outline the various elements and theories behind communication. The author claims that people do not normally put enough effort and time into developing their communication skills. It is normally a trait that is either thought of as the person either having the “gift of gab” or not having the skill. By presenting the science and research behind communication and the various techniques the author sets the stage for Part II of the book where the theories are put into action. Part I also explains how non-verbal cues impact the delivery of your communication. Making sure your message matches your actions to help enhance your impact or if it doesn’t match that you are aware of this and you are using it at a technique to better acquire what you are seeking. Part I also discusses the variety of mediums we use to communicate. Some people may be better with face to face communication and some via text or phone. The strategies put forth here are to help the reader bridge the gap, if there is one, and have a more level performance with all forms of communication.


Part II’s eleven strategic conversation frameworks are introduced. The frameworks are the following: real curiosity, interest/agreement openers, keep the conversation open, storing and referring, nodes, amplification, muting, weaving, plural asks, tridenting, and exit strategy. Each strategic framework is broken down into a section. In the various sections it is broken down the same for each strategy. The strategy is defined, the benefits of using the strategy discussed, when to use the technique, how to use
the technique, a sample dialogue given, tips, and finally a challenge using the technique to reinforce learning.


Part III is where the theory is really put into practice. The author provides challenges and worksheets for the reader to complete for each strategy. Some examples of the assignments are: listening to a podcast of an interview and writing down three things you learned about the interviewee and how you could use that to develop a conversation using the “Real Curiosity” strategy, an easy one is asking a co-worker where they usually go for lunch and then develop three conversation starters from that simple question which is “Interest/agreement openers,” and finally write an “exit strategy” for a conversation you are having with a co-worker that you know is very talkative. The challenges for each strategy are broken down into Easy, Medium, and Hard. The author suggests using friends and relatives to practice the various strategy challenges so help you feel more confident and comfortable.


Takeaway: While I feel like I am above average in starting conversations and am an active listener I did takeaway strategies on how to extricate myself from longer conversations without hurting the person’s feelings. I also learned several techniques on how to focus a conversation on the topic you want and keep it there. I feel these two strategies are important to customer service. One it is nice to be able to chat with your customers and learn more about their lives especially if they give you repeat business but being able to exit the conversation smoothly to return to work and serve the rest of your customers is a skill that is learned. Secondly if a customer is complaining I feel like helping to keep them on track with or on task nicely by placing well thought out questions to help them along the way is a good skill to develop.


Action Plan: The Communications Crash Course has many good tools and techniques to practice and use throughout the day with your co-workers and customers. My plan is to review the strategies and techniques using the worksheets especially after a conversation that I feel did not go according to plan. This will help me to focus on improvement in the areas where I need help and reinforce the strategies for my next encounter. By continuing to be cognizant of ways to improve my techniques I will become a better communicator.

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