Communication Quiz: Are You a Great Communicator?

Communication, which occupations approximately 70% of our waking hours, is what many leaders find the most frustrating. The fact is most of us were never taught how to communicate in a way that produces desired results, so we continue to experience frustration, resistance, conflicts, or breakdowns. Think of a recent important conversation. How many of these questions can you answer YES to?

  1. Did I taking full responsibility for the message being heard by the other person? (Remember, it does not matter what you say, it only matters what the other person hears.)
  2. Did I respect the other person's point of view? (Did I have a reaction to what they were saying that prevented me from listening to their full message?)
  3. Did the other person feel heard and understood? (Did I acknowledge them?)
  4. If I was asking someone to take a specific action, did I make my request clear?
  5. Was I speaking in a way the other person can understand? (Speaking in their communication style.)
  6. Was I communicating openly, without prejudices, expectations and judgment? (Was I focused on having to be right or hearing their point of view?)
  7. Did the other person leave the conversation feeling good – with some value?
  8. Did I leave the conversation feeling good – with some value?
  9. Did I follow-up to see if the conversation was successful – it led to the desired results?
  10. If the arrival of the conversation did not meet my expectations, did I learn what I could improve upon to better communicate with that particular person?

So how did you score?

8-10 Yeses indicate you're the tops. Keep up the good work.

4-7 Yeses is OK. Brush up in certain areas.

0-3 means you have work to do.

Here are four ways to be a better communicator and leader:

Talk less and hear more.

We want to be heard and listened to but we do not always concentrate on listening to others. We focus more on our agenda than on the other person's thoughts, concerns or issues.

Do not assume others are mind readers.

We want some sort of action or response from another person. However, we do not let them know what we really want or how to achieve it. Before assuming the other knows what you want, first inform and then ask for feedback. Take the time upfront to get better mileage later on.

Do not shot the messenger.

We want to understand but our ability to understand is tainted by our perceptions of the person speaking or the outcome we are looking to achieve. So, we often pass judgment on the speaker and disregard the message. Concentrate on the message not the messenger.

Join forces.

We want acceptance and agreement from others, so much so, that we often become consumed with having to be right or providing our point. We push and push our agenda. Rather, stop, look and listen for areas of mutual agreement. Then work from there to co-create a greater outcome together.

The next time you are involved in an important conversation pause your mental and verbal tape player for a moment. Then start really listening. It's amazing what you will discover. Perhaps information that can lead to your leadership and business success.

Communication Style

Are you a watchmaker or a tell-timer? You know which you are when you think about your answer to the question, what is the time? A tell-timer would simply look at their watch and answer the question directly whereas a watchmaker will want to tell you how the watch works before getting round to telling you the time. Does that story strike a chord with you? If so, then you understand this particular dimension of communication style i.e. verbosity.

Some people are much more verbose than others. Such people, when you meet them in the morning and ask them how they are will give you such a lengthy story that, about fifteen minutes later, you are truly sorry you asked. Their communication style is what Linda McCallister refers to, in her book Say What You Mean, Get What You Want, as ‘Socratic’ after Socrates, of course, a lover of dialogue and, as we all know, a star of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

You will probably be able to bring to mind examples; people who you know who use this wordy communication style. The difficulty for them is that the devil is always in the detail. They want to answer your questions, but they are often tempted to provide additional detail as background and context in order that you might understand their eventual answer.

Contrast that style with those who, when you greet them in the morning, barely look up from their work, grunt and then get back to what they were doing. Such people – Linda likes to call their style ‘noble’ (after Rousseau’s Noble Savage) – have a direct and blunt communication style. In many respects their style is a direct opposite of the Socratic style; not just in terms of verbosity, but also in the overall approach to the discussion of any particular topic.

With nobles, the approach is top-down, preferring to stay at an overview level and drilling down into detail only when and where it is required. This is exactly the opposite of the Socratic style which revels in the detail and generally wants to tell, and hear, the entire story beginning at the beginning and ending at the end, no matter how long it takes.

A third extreme of communication style is known as the ‘reflective’ style. These are the people who are asking how you are in the first place. They are the people who say good morning, good evening, have a nice weekend and so on. They are social animals, unable to walk past each other on the stairs without nodding and saying ‘hi’. For reflectors, the important thing about communicating is the human aspects. They observe the rules of social interaction, they say please and thank you, they are courteous and they expect the same from others.

When dealing with reflectors, introductions are very important and so too is chit-chat. For them, getting right down to business after saying hello is simply too abrupt a transition. They prefer some social interaction in between the introduction and the information exchange which forms the body of the communication.

In her book, Linda describes three other styles, which are simply combinations of the three we have just discussed: she calls them the ‘magistrate’, the’ candidate’ and the ‘senator’. The magistrate style is a blended style, the combination of noble and Socratic. The candidate is a blend of the Reflective and Socratic styles. The Senator, however, is a dual style (rather than a blend) which switches between noble and reflective styles according to context.

Since the latter three styles are simply blends or combinations of the three pure styles, we only need to concern ourselves with understanding these first three i.e. noble, Socratic and reflective because your own style will be some combination of these three influences. It is very unlikely that you will be an extreme of one style or another.

Now it is important to note that each of these groups get along best with individuals who use their preferred styles, so a key principle in learning how to communicate effectively is understanding how to adjust our own style to cater for the preferences of the person we are addressing. In other words, if we are speaking with a noble – someone who calls a spade a spade – we need to adopt a straight-forward approach to communication. We need to answer questions directly, even if we feel the person might not understand the answer. And that’s exactly how nobles like to be dealt with; if they need anything clarifying, they will prefer to ask.

If we are dealing with a reflective, we need to ensure that we are polite, that we introduce ourselves properly, that we show some interest in them personally and conform to the social dimensions of the interaction. Simply getting involved in a little pre-amble or social chit-chat before getting down to talking turkey is all it takes to make a significant improvement in our ability to deal with this group.

With Socratic communicators, there is always the difficulty of time, especially in the workplace where time is usually at a premium. But remember that the detail that is being offered is generally not irrelevant. Socratic communicators are usually not off-topic, like reflectors. They are providing background and context that is relevant, so we need to make a mental effort to give them our full attention.

Remember that none of these pure styles or their derivatives (magistrate, senator and candidate) are right as such, although each of them thinks their way is right. Nobles think that communication should be top-down, talking at an overview level and drilling into detail only where necessary. Socratics think that all avenues of a topic need to be fully explored before making decisions. And reflectors believe that the most important part of the interaction is the social part.

So part of the art of communicating well is learning to listen not only to what is being said, but to how it is being said. Listen for verbosity and social content; just those two things, and you will be able to figure out the other person’s bias toward one of these styles. Once you understand that, simply give them what they want.

If you can practice this simple method of adjusting your own communication style, despite your own biases and preferences, you will begin to get on with people you previously found difficult. They won’t know what you are doing. They will know you are doing something different but, generally, they will be unable to put their finger on what it is. They will just know that they are getting along with you a lot easier.

Eventually, if you continue to practice this method, you will get better at it and, eventually, you will no longer even have to think about it because the whole approach will become a natural part of you. Try it out for a month and watch the results. You can have a great deal of fun working with the idea and, in addition, you will be significantly improving your ability to communicate.

Novel Netware Network Operating System

This is an operating system that has the capabilities of supporting information and resources sharing between network computers. It provides an influence between workstation in a network.

Network Operating System Services includes:

File and resource sharing – Is the fundamental requirement for a network ie is the reason behind networking computers.

Configurability and usability – configuration and use should be easy paper documentation, electronic format, books should be provided for a first time user to get the network up and running.

Support – any kind of useful information should always be available.

Types of Network Operating System:

Novel Netware
• It is the first NOS to support the multiple platforms
• It was the first NOS to support multiple and varying topologies and routines between this different topologies
• Novel Netware servers typically outperform other network servers because it is by design network operating system

Features of Novel NOS include:

• Novel directory services (NOS)

NDS offering is what makes a novel a strong competitor of Windows NT. It uses X.500 standard and therefore prevent the creation of duplicate objects. Each object has a distinguish name (DN). Because NDS directory services is displayed in neat graphically arranged order, objects such as users, printers, workstations and application servers are sharing an organization structure to the system administration user. You can log in as the administrator user from any workstation. This enables you to manage the entire directory tree. You can add and remove user's services and other network resources. Users need to log only once in order to gain access to all network resources.

• Security Services

All passwords flows back and forth from the Netware server to the client workstation in an encrypted format, even the administrator can not look at user's password on the server. The administrator can remove and add users permission but only the users know their own password, even if users get to physical Netware server, they have no greater access to resources that would have on their own workstation is build into the network system because Netware security is build into the Netware system of the lowest level. All attempts to access information or resources on the network go through on the network security system.

• Database services

Provide a central repository for information on the server, the major database management system available is
Netware C – a database record management system index with a database key for easy development for vertical application.

Netware SQL – standard used for accessing records stored in relational database system.
Oracle DBMS – it is SQL based system used primarily business critical application in different lines of business.

• Messaging services

Provide a messaging service called Netware message handling service. This provides ease of message, transmission between many fronted applications. This application can share data over the LANs and Novel word.

• Print services

Allows up to 16 printers to be shared per print server on the Network and therefore a real flexibility of printing, Printers need not to be attached to the actual print server in order to be operated.

• Netware loadable machine (NLM)

Netware loadable modules are maintained by Novel Netware operation. It provide the power needed to support hierarchy used network services in the server. have the same access to the Netware security services making them same to control and monitor.

Advantages of the Novel Netware
Has the print and file server software in the business and its sharing of files and printers that makes a network important and useful. Has the best LAN NOS directory service.

Disadvantages
As an application server its failures as Windows NT beats it on this case. Poor at printing data / information network status and management. It has build in network management tools that are not powerful.

When, Why and How to Ask for Prepayments and Extra Payments As an Expert Witness

Should you ask for a retainer? Yes, you should. If a case appears simple, a modest retainer fee equivalent to two or three hours of your consulting rate may be fair. You can reduce your initial retainer fee under special circumstances or for limited scope of work. In the same fashion, you can raise your retainer at other times when the initial work will be dramatically larger. After assessing how many hours of initial work you will need to undertake, let that guide you to the size of your retainer.

Be particular about the initial expectations so that you can quantify the initial retainer. Ask, and agree, on the materials you must read, the research or investigations you must complete, and consider what tests you must run. Confirm your understanding with an email, a fax or a letter, depending on the urgency of the work. Then, wait until you've received the retainer check or payment before starting the work. If the attorney tells you that the job is urgent, send him wire transfer information so that he can wire your retainer directly to your bank account. This can easily happen in a 24-hour period.

Always ask for an initial payment before you begin work on a case or you might end up working for nothing. If, by the end of the case, the hours you spent did not consume the retainer, you should refund the difference.

Occidentally an attorney will ask you to do work for free. A free first telephone conversation representatives goodwill and can be an encouragement to engage you when the case seems right. Doing analysis or research for advocates and charging them nothing is unprofessional. On the other hand, you can certainly consider pro-bono work from time to time, just as attorneys occasionally do.

One novel element remains to consider. As your reputation grows, attorneys will sometimes retain you just to be sure that the other side can not employ you. As a result, you should value the use of your name as an expert witness, and considering imposing a minimum fee whenever an attorney wants to retain you. You can apply this minimum charge against services, so it will have no impact on the total cost to the client unless the attorney never uses your services.

In my retainer contract, my terms require both an advance retainer and a replenishment of all or part of the retention from time to time. The amount of replenishment depends on what additional work the attorney requires of me. Some experts require that the attorney or client maintain a minimum retainer. To do so, you should bill to restore that minimum whenever the balance in the pre-paid account for the client falls below a specific level. Ask for new advance payments whenever it becomes similar that additional work will deplete the existing balance in the client's account.

Typically, your client will not have to replenish the retainer if the additional work only requires one to several hours. But you should request advance payment in the following instances:

1. If a sudden surge occurs in discovery materials for your review.

2. If your attorney requests that you travel for conferences and meetings.

3. If any investigations require you to travel to job sites or company offices for observations, meetings, and any other explorations.

4. If your deposition has been scheduled. You will have to reserve a variable number of days in your schedule for the deposition, for a pre-deposition conference, and possibly for the travel time as well.

5. If a trial has been scheduled; you will have the same factors of blocking out time for possible travel, meetings, and testimony.

You should also estimate airfare, hotel, car, and food expenses as well. You can contain those in requested advance payments. If you ask for advance payments, ask for them well in advance. Larger companies often have processing delays for invoices or payment requests. You do not want those delays to stand in the way of your work. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for advance payment. Your business needs to be organized enough to estimate the size of advance payments. You can base those payments on discussions with the attorney about the progress of the case and what work you expect will be required of you.

The most important advance payment is the one that precedes a trial. Be firm in asking for advance payment for your anticipated billings before traveling to testify at a trial. Clients have now spent a large sum of money by the time a trial begins. If the client loses in the trial, he either may not be able, or choose not, to pay you. But because he needs your testimony at the trial, put the pressure on him to pay beforehand and not on you to collect afterwards.

Receiving advance payment for your trial testimony time permits you to respond "No" to the potential cross examining question of whether the client owes you any money.

If the client has now paid you, you can honestly point out that the verdict in the case will have no affect on your testimony.