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Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

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The way in which information is conveyed also increases (or decreases) accuracy. If information is complex, emotionally laden or unusual, then it should be conveyed in a redundant manner; i.e., it should be conveyed several different times in several different ways. Preferably, this information should be communicated through at least two different media, for example, speech and the written word, or speech and a visual diagram. If questions arise, they should be answered, if possible, by shifting to a different medium. If information is being conveyed verbally, for example, then questions might be addressed by constructing a visual model or demonstration, or by telling an illustrative story.

Unfortunately, some communicators simply repeat the same words they used before when asked to clarify a point or they simply speak louder. Some communicators only make use of one medium, usually verbal, when many of the people with whom they work exhibit a strong preference for other media when receiving complex and disturbing information. Group members who are often described as “thick-headed” or inattentive may prefer communication in a medium with which we don’t feel comfortable. In order to improve their own communication skills, group leaders should learn how to communicate in several different media: speaking, writing, visualizing (diagramming) and enacting (physically walking through a process or procedure).

Obtaining Group Feedback on an Idea

In most meetings, information is expected to flow in both directions. Participants are expected to react to the ideas being presented by the person who is convening the meeting. These expectations often hide the fact that the convener does not really want this feedback but is only soliciting it so that the participants feel good and, as a result, listen to the presentation being made by the convener.

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