Workplace Rights

Weekly (8/12/13)

Topic of the Week  Noise-Breakers

  • Channel
  • Content
  • Connection
  • Kardashian
  • Catalyst

Noise-Breakers: How To Get Your Message Heard

Ever struggle to get your message heard by customers, bosses, coworkers or employees at work? It's noisy out there and a difficult time to get people to pay attention to what you're trying to communicate. Which reminds me of trying to talk to someone during a concert in the Kingdome, the old domed stadium in Seattle. With noise bouncing off concrete in every direction it was impossible to not only have a conversation, you could barely hear yourself think.

Speaking of noise, a study by the University of Southern California found that in 1986 each of us received the equivalent of 40 newspapers worth of information a day. Today, it's 174. The USA on our Olympic jerseys should be replaced with ADD. Because we're all struggling against Attention Deficit Disorder in these noisy and chaotic times. There is way to break through the noise and it comes from a book called the "Responsive Chord" by Tony Schwartz. Rather than trying to layer on new information, he says it's more effective to draw out the information from inside the person that you're trying to communicate with. The 5 C's below will help you to do just that.

Channel. Communicating in a speech, is different from being on TV, which is different from a tweet. So different that the message becomes secondary to the channel that you're using to communicate. Marshall McClune said many years ago, "The medium is the message," and he couldn't be more correct. Start by focusing on the channel's pros and cons before you even think about your message.

Content. Seinfeld was the last time we paid attention to a show about nothing. Effective communication always has two parts: substance and style, insight and inspiration or, as I like to say, an a-hah and a ha-ha. You're job isn't only to provide information, today you have to light a spark under people to act on what you tell them.

Connection. The word education comes from the Latin root, "Educo." Which can be translated as "I take out." Note it's not "I pour in," the common view of education today. The best way to get people to understand the point your trying to make is to draw it out of them, or as Tony Schwartz would say, to find the responsive chord inside of them.

Kardashians. Many people decry how pop culture is a huge distraction. I don't disagree, but pop culture can also be a power tool for anyone trying to communicate with an audience. Let's face it, the Kardashians, Anthony Weiner and Donald Trump are metaphor gold for explaining complicated issues.

Catalyst. If you're goal isn't to be a catalyst, then why speak up in the first place? Which reminds me of two old Greek dudes, Cisero and Demosthenes. "When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, 'How well he spoke,' but when Demosthenes finished speaking, they said, 'Let us march.'"

Use these strategies and you'll break through the noise and watch the people march.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"The object of oratory alone is not truth, but persuasion."

–Thomas B. Macalay

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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