A Summary and Review of Talk Less, Say More by Connie Dieken for Thinking Executives – and Those Who Want to be One

This summary and review of the book, Talk Less, Say More: three Habits to Influence Others and Make Things Happen, was prepared by Jacob R. Schultz while an Accounting major in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Executive Summary

The 21st century has introduced a lot electronic technology, especially technology as it pertains to communicating with each other. The art and skill of face-to-face communication continues to be a lost art. Our society has become so fast paced that we thrive on instant gratification such as text messaging, twitter, Facebook, emails and many others electronic means. Talk Less, Say More is written by one of the leaders in face-to-face communications. The author, Connie Dieken, is world renowned for coaching leaders of business and industry to communicate with purpose and effectiveness.

Image via CrunchBase

With the advent of all the electronic technology available today and all distractions and information overload we are bombarded with, are attention spans are getting shorter every day. This book is basically written as a self-help book. It presents the reader with old habits that continue to persist making them ineffectual communicators and offers three new habits “to Influence Others and Make Things Happen”. The three habits Connie Dieken introduces are connect, convey, and convince.
The author breaks her book down into three parts and under each of these parts are three strategies to achieve effective communication that presents a called action that will benefit you the communicator. The author contends that we are living in a “communiclutter society” and that it is impossible to be a strong or effective leader with weak communication skills. She points out the fact that smart communication is not a skill that most people pick up in business school because not enough emphasis is put on teaching it.        
As communicators, it really does not take us long to determine if we are strong or weak communicators. The author challenges the reader to pose some very candid questions to themselves. By virtue of answering these questions we can certainly identify our strengths and weaknesses. In everyday life whether we are talking with friends, teachers, employers, peers at work we find ourselves able to draw certain conclusions as communicators. We already have some basic instinctual knowledge whether or not we see or hear ourselves as effective communicators. If in our everyday lives we continue to question our ability to get people to do what we want them to do, listen to us, and put forth an action we want them to put forth, or just hear us out and they are not responding to us in the way we want them to, we know that one of two things is true. One they are terrible communicators themselves or two, the problem lies with us. As time goes by we begin to realize by the positive and negative we receive both verbally and with body language that there is a good chance we are in all likelihood the problem.
Self-doubt is a trait that many of us possess. In reading this book the author challenges us with her series of questions to reflect upon that doubt that we carry around day in and day out. Every one of us at one point or another in our lives has stopped to ponder and ask themselves “why did I not get my point across?” or “why did I have so much difficulty to get someone to see it my way?” or “why could I not convince someone that I was right and they were wrong?” .While many of us may not realize it at first, we all want to be effective communicators. We just don’t know how to go about it. This book, while a brief 172 pages is jammed packed full of great advice, tips, hints, and lessons to guide us down the road in the 21st century to speak and command our audience as leaders not followers.

The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from Talk Less, Say More

1. Communication is the single greatest challenge in business today. Talk Less, Say More will help you reach your A-game in interpersonal communication, giving you more power to change minds and inspire remarkable results – while talking less.

2. People have become so impatient in our fast-faster-fastest world that they can’t even wait for you to finish a sentence. Blame the instant gratification that we have been working towards.  For example, there is an instant messaging, speed dating, quick weight loss plan, ten-minute teeth whitening strips, five minute abs, and so forth.

3. A good technique to capture attention is to choose your receiver’s preferred method of communication (PMOC). Their PMOC trumps yours because they control how soon they will respond to you, if at all. If you choose their PMOC you will increase your odds of getting a quicker and more positive response.

4. Connect with anyone to instantly capture their undivided attention in a distracted,    attention deficit world. You must give people what they want and value in order to earn their attention, or they’ll tune you out.

5. Convey and nail information without overloading or confusing. Our world is full of communiclutter, the author’s word for communication overload. This happens when you’re bombarded with endless streams of communication, making it difficult to focus and process all the information. As a result your mind is cluttered.

6. Convince anyone to take the action you want and feel good about it. It is not manipulation or arm twisting, and you don’t have to be ultra-charismatic. Today’s modern communication tools –caller ID, text, email, and such—make it easier than ever for people to dodge and deflect your attempts to convince them to do something.

7. The eyes trump the ears. Showing contrast works because it is a visual shortcut. It cuts through the boring parts to create a visually induced belief.

8. Talk in triplets. Three is the world’s most powerful number for receiving information, which means it is a secret shortcut to convey messages powerfully. The key is to put your desired choice first. Then your next preferred choice goes in the last position for a strong finish. Your least favorite choice gets buried in the middle.

9. We must cut through other people information overload and win results. The main strategy to do this is using portion control to create accurate take-aways and ensure that others understand you.

10. Transferring ownership of your ideas to others, involving your peers, and explain how you got from point A to point B, are great techniques to get people off the fence and earn people’s trust. People should feel as if they are volunteering, not surrendering.

Full Summary of Talk Less, Say More

Connie Dieken uses the 3 C’s of communication to explain how to talk less and say more. These are connect, convey, convince. She explains that the best way to get your point across is to use “triplets”, making it an efficient way to get your information across clearly and efficiently. She explains the difficulties of using the 3 C’s compared to current age technology and information overload.  Following one of the strategies of using triplets, her book is organized under three habits and under each habit there are three strategies to grasp and influence each habit. Communication is the single greatest challenge in business today. Talk Less, Say More will help you reach your A-game in interpersonal communication, giving you more power to change minds and inspire remarkable results – while talking less.

The first habit is to connect with anyone to instantly capture their undivided attention in a distracted, attention deficit world. You must capture people’s hearts and minds so you don’t lose their attention or drive them to distractions. You must make connecting a habit and automatic, engaging people and managing their attention is a priority. The skill to connect is a learnable skill even if you spent your whole life skipping this first step.  You must give people what they want and value in order to earn their attention, or they’ll tune you out. The listeners now hold the power these days. It’s like they hold the remote to the TV, and if you want to be must-see TV, you must connect smartly.

Strategy one under connecting is stay in their moment. Be fully present and focus on the needs of the people you are communicating with. Strategy two is to frontload.  First thing is fast, quickly point out what’s relevant so your listeners immediately grasp what is in it for them. Strategy three is goldilocks candor. The right level of candor is crucial to keeping people connected. The wrong level of candor can lead to people being defensive, hurt feelings, bad performance, and being withheld.  

The second habit is to convey and nail information without overloading or confusing. You have already connected successfully, why lose them by conveying information in a sloppy manner?  Conveying successfully leads to clear understanding, which will allow you to convince them later on. Our world is full of communiclutter, the author’s word for communication overload. This happens when you’re bombarded with endless streams of communication, making it difficult to focus and process all the information. As a result your mind is cluttered. We can’t escape communiclutter so we must embrace and manage it. You bog people down and they resist—and resent it. Overload is incredibly frustrating, especially with the hundreds of daily communications.

Strategy one under conveying is the eyes trump the ears. In many marketing campaigns many commercials use the before and after pictures that show a huge impact. Showing contrast works because it is a visual shortcut. It creates an instant impression without forcing you to trudge through confusing statistics. It cuts through the boring parts to create a visually induced belief. Using contrast, you can demonstrate growth or even exploit a competitor’s weakness.  Strategy two is talk in triplets. Many basic things in life come in threes, for example stop, drop, and roll; as well as elementary, middle, high school and another would be solid, liquid, and gas. Strategy three is tell stories. Smart stories have a long shelf life, they break through the clutter and stick like glue. Three is the world’s most powerful number for receiving information, which means it is a secret shortcut to convey messages powerfully. The key is to put your desired choice first. Then your next preferred choice goes in the last position for a strong finish. Your least favorite choice gets buried in the middle.

The third habit is to convince anyone to take the action you want and feel good about it. If you’ve connected and conveyed properly, convincing should be your easiest step. Convincing is a core leadership skill. It is not manipulation or arm twisting, and you don’t have to be ultra-charismatic. This skill can be learned. Convincing is not a thunderbolt event, It’s a process that unfolds incrementally to change hearts and minds and compel others to action. You should sound decisive, and prevent sounding wishy-washy. Today’s modern communication tools –caller ID, text, email, and such—make it easier than ever for people to dodge and deflect your attempts to convince them to do something. Convince in a smart manner, and you’ll improve your ability to sell ideas, products, services, or even yourself.  

Strategy one under convincing is sound decisive. Making good decisions quickly and speaking with confidence is an attribute of a high-performance leader. Strategy two is transfer ownership. It’s powerful when the people you are communicating with feel like they arrived at a decision on their own. Transferring ownership of your ideas to others, involving your peers, and explaining how you got from point A to point B, are great techniques to get people off the fence and earn people’s trust. People should feel as if they are volunteering, not surrendering. Strategy three is adjusting your energy. When you communicate with people they monitor the signals you send. Your intensity, facial expressions, pitch, tone, volume, body language, and eye contact all combine to influence others.

People have become so impatient in our fast-faster-fastest world that they can’t even wait for you to finish a sentence.  Their attention is tempted by text messages, e-mails, web surfing, and cell phone calls. These distractions have caused people to disconnect from one on one, in-person conversations.  Blame the instant gratification that we have been working towards.  For example, there is an instant messaging, speed dating, quick weight loss plan, ten-minute teeth whitening strips, five minute abs, and so forth.  A good technique to capture attention is to choose your receiver’s preferred method of communication (PMOC). Their PMOC trumps yours because they control how soon they will respond to you, if at all. If you choose their PMOC you will increase your odds of getting a quicker and more positive response.

We must cut through other people information overload and win results. The main strategy to do this is using portion control to create accurate take-aways and ensure that others understand you. Information has to be processed first before we understand it and then it becomes knowledge. Don’t confuse people with messages that are too long, complex, and difficult—if not impossible—to follow. Portion control is a smarter way to convey because it forces you to manage your messages so that others can process your information accurately. If you do not use portion control this is call data dumping, which leads to confusion, misunderstanding, and wasted time. Portion control will help your listeners absorb and understand even the most complicated messages.  

   

The author Connie Dieken uses the company Apple as an example to bring all three of the “C’s” together and show how Apple became a popular company with one of the most successful product ever, the iPod.  Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, connected with his consumers’ wants and gave them value.  He used the idea of Napster, a file- sharing network that millions of music enthusiast gathered their favorite songs in digital format, and applied it in legal form, iTunes for example. Steve then conveyed his technological advanced idea for a digital device so that his think tank of engineers could come up with the ultimate groundbreaking device and clearly understand the cool designs and functions that he envisioned. Lastly, Steve convinced his team of engineers to produce and complete the product in a timely manner so that it would be the first of its kind to hit the market, although others thought the task would be impossible. These engineers bought into the idea because they wanted to own one too.  Not only did Steve convince engineers he also convinced artists and major record labels to sign away digital rights which at one time have been claimed “Over my dead body”.  Steve changed minds and convinced heavy hitters to hop on the iTunes train and help protect piracy issues and ongoing issues of how valuable intellectual property really is. Steve Jobs has used the techniques of triplets and of the three C’s perfectly to show how well you can talk less and say more.

The Video Lounge

. This video is of Connie Dieken, the author herself. This is YouTube video of the book trailer. She expresses the 3 habits to influence others. It is a quick overview of the book and what you can expect to read about.







Personal Insights

Why I think:

  • With business conditions today, what the author wrote is – or is no longer true – because:

The author addresses current conditions today. She explains how current communication clutter such as text messages, twitter, emails, and many others can clutter your mind and make it impossible to break through this clutter and connect with anyone.

  • If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:

1. If I were the author, I would have removed or never have had a review of each chapter and not have had an action plan, at the end of each chapter. I found that the book is easy to follow with key words and tips next to each important section of the chapters. I find that the review and action plan are too repetitive.

2. If I were the author, I would have added more visual graphs for some of her explanations. She explains how the eyes trump the ears. She uses a few visual charts and they helped, just how she explained the visual charts would. I think that she could use more visuals to explain her strategies.  

3. If I were the author, I would have not had a “Putting it all Together” section as my last pages. She thoroughly explains each of the three habits in her book and how well they all work, dependent on each of the other habits.

  • Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:

1. I think differently about how to apply these skills. The author explains that these skills can be learned and that you don’t have to have the natural ability to connect, convey, convince.

2. I think differently about the information overload these days. I have a hard time cutting through the clutter every day, even in my personal one-on-one daily communications.

3. I think differently about communicating in general. The author explained the importance of being a master at these skills. With more new distractions each day we must learn these skills to communicate effectively in this new modern time.

  • I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:

1. I’ll apply these techniques in my career to become a successful business leader. I have now learned the ways to be a great communicator and I will be able to connect, convey, and convince others.

2. I’ll apply simple techniques to manage the daily information overload. The author states that we are bombarded with so much information and if we can’t control the overload we can manage it.

3. I’ll apply the technique of portion control in my career and in my daily life. This is one of my weakest skills. Portion control is the key to conveying your message. Everyone strives to be heard but by using these techniques I can convey my message easily, clearly, and understood.

  • Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:

“What others (scholarly and magazine reviews – along with on-line reviews – not simply reviews off the back of the book) have said about the book and its author?”

“Connie Dieken’s three-step strategy is a smart, practical guide for business leaders and others who want to create a high-performance culture. It’s an important, powerful book on how to master communication in the 21st century.”

“Thanks to Connie’s communication expertise, she makes it easy for anyone to transform from a good communicator into an excellent one. Her three simple principles are based on real-world experiences and demonstrate the power of a strong communicator.”

“Talk Less, Say More is packed with powerful advice to get your points across and make things happen in today’s time-pressed world. Connie’s forward-thinking, actionable communication shortcuts can elevate anyone’s game.”
“Connie Dieken is a true communication virtuoso and a genuine phenomenon. She is on a mission to elevate our ability to communicate. Talk Less, Say More should be required reading for all leaders and emerging leaders. It can instantly transform the way people respond to you, giving you the power to deliver brief, clear messages that influence the world.”

Bibliography

Dieken, Connie. (2009). Talk less, say more: 3 habits to influence others and make things happen. John Wiley & Sons.

Dieken, Connie. (2009). The book synopsis. Retrieved from    http://talklessbook.com/book/

Sage, Initials. (2010, July 18). Talk less, say more (a book review) [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://sagecoveredhills.blogspot.com/2010/07/talk-less-say-more-book-review.html

Safari Books Online, Initials. (2011). Search this book. Retrieved from http://my.safaribooksonline.com/book/communications/9780470500866#searchsectionslist

Webber, Randy. (2010, November 6). Talk less, say more – a great resource for product and business development managers [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://randyweber.com/blog/2010/11/06/talk-less-say-more-%E2%80%93-a-great-resource-for-product-and-business-development-managers/




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Contact Info

To contact the author of this article, “A Summary and Review of Talk Less, Say More by Connie Dieken for Thinking Executives – and Those Who Want to be One,” please email Jacob.Schultz@selu.edu or Jacob.Schultz1985@gmail.com.

About the Publisher

David C. Wyld (dwyld.kwu@gmail.com) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites:


   
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