Empathy and Recent College Grads
Empathy and Recent College Grads
Discuss workforce management, performance management, retention, communication, motivation, contributing to business results and other topics.
I am a Professor at Middle Tennessee State University and teach a Business Communication course that is designed to assist students in understanding how to properly prepare business messages (using v
Re: Empathy and Recent College Grads
posted at 6/4/2012 10:15 AM EDT
on Workforce Management
Sorry I haven't responded to the forum sooner, but I had end-of-semester grading and prepping for my summer classes to complete . . . so, I am back and reading the postings you all have written.
I understand the question about honesty and why we teach an "indirect" approach to reporting bad news. Basically, we use the indirect approach in reporting bad news as a result of our western cultural norms. No one likes to hear bad news right off the bat--and for businesses, if they desire their customers/clients to be accepting of bad news, they need to make a connection with the reader or listener FIRST and then report the bad news as part of the explanations. We do not teach our students to report some convoluted information, but rather to "soften the blow" when delivering a negative message. Not all cultures appreciate this approach, and we do teach our students to consider their audience first and foremost--if you are dealing with a culture that expects to know up front whether the answer is yes or no, then forget the indirect approach to communicating and go straight for the information. If you are dealing with a culture that will be personally offended by negative news, you have to approach the message from another angle. Again, the whole premise of writing is based on audience analysis--to whom am I communicating and what do they expect in terms of my approach to communicating information.
I believe what you might be referring to, James, is what we term "corporate speak"--or the ability to deliver information to the audience WITHOUT really telling the audience anything. We often see the same approach with politicians--ask one a question and see if you really get an answer to your question or if you merely get an answer that appears to tell you something but doesn't tell you what you actually wanted to know. And if delivered with a smile or a slam to the opponent, the audience goes wild!
I just wanted to tell you that we don't teach students to be dishonest in their communication; we teach them to take the right approach to communicating based on the audience to whom they are communicating. Negative messages usually take an indirect approach--unless you have a situation where the bad news needs to be front and center. For example, if you are communicating information that could be hazardous or dangerous, put the bad news first; if you are communicating to someone from a culture desirous of hearing the bad news first, put the bad news first; if you are communicating with a customer or client you have communicated with on numerous occasions and who seems to be unable to understand your "bad" news, put the bad news first; if your audience expects to receive bad news and in no way is expecting anything else, put the bad news first. However, since most businesses find it more financially feasible to maintain existing customers than to recruit new ones, they usually want to communicate bad news in an indirect fashion so as to mitigate the fall out--not an excuse for lying or misrepresenting information.
I hope this helps better understand the indirect versus direct approach to communicating. And the empathy issue--well, students appear to have the same problem communicating in a direct fashion as they do in an indirect one. If you have no understanding of how to "put yourself in the reader's or listener's shoes," then you certainly will find it difficult to be an effective communicator. Thanks again for participating!
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