Organisational Change Management Volume 2


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(see Volume 3 for more information on non-verbal communications including body language and tone)


The Mebrabian equation for interpersonal communications states

"...Message = 20% words + 40% body language + 40% tone of voice..."

as quoted by John Edwards et al, 1997


"...Research has shown that about 55% of your presentation is through body language, 38% through your tone and only 7% through your content..."

Melissa Wilkinson, 2009

Yet most of our communication techniques stress the "word" part of the message rather than the "tone" and/or "body language"

The 4 fundamentals of communications

i) it is perception

ii) it is expectation

iii) it makes demands

iv) it and information are different and indeed largely opposite - yet interdependent

Remember: people we meet form up to 90% of their opinion about us within 4 minutes!!!!!!

Communications is a perception

It is the recipient who allows communication, ie unless there is someone willing to listen, there can be no communication.

Furthermore, the recipient must understand the communication, ie one must talk to people in terms of their own experiences, ie communication is only effective in the recipient's language or in his or her terms, and these are usually experienced-based

Is the communication within the recipient's range of perception?

We perceive what we expect to perceive, ie we expect to see and hear what we expect to see and hear. This means that the unexpected is not usually received at all, ie it is ignored or misunderstood

Communications is expectations

"...the human mind attempts to fit expressions and stimuli into a frame of expectations. It resists vigorously any attempts to make it change its mind..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

On the other hand, it is possible to alert the human mind to the fact that what it perceives is contrary to its expectations, ie a shock or an awakening that breaks continuity.

Communication makes demands

"...if.....communication fits in with aspirations, the values, the purposes of the recipient, it is powerful. If it goes against his aspirations, his values, his motivations, it is likely not to be received at all or, at best, to be resisted..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

Communications aimed at conversion, such as with religion, demand surrender

Communications and information

"...where communications is perception, information is is impersonal rather than interpersonal..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

Reasons for communication failures

When communicating "downward", the focus is on what management wants to say, ie talking at the audience rather than framing the message in terms the recipient will understand.

There can be a problem with management "listening". This involves finding out what staff want to know, are interested in, ie receptive to. Even though listening is a prerequisite to communications, it has limited use if being used by itself. Furthermore, it assumes that the staff can communicate, ie put ideas and concerns into a language that management understands rather than being in the speaker's own jargon. In other words, communication starts with the recipient

More and better information does not necessarily improve communications. Furthermore, with increased information available, there is a greater need than ever for it to be put in the recipient's language. Usually, increased information increases the information gap.

Perceptions differ and these can affect both the way reality is seen and communications

"...communications requires shared experience..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

"...most communication breakdown between people results from their lack of awareness that at the outset......if several members of a group are using different category systems, not only will they not agree on what to do, they will not even agree on the definition of what is real, what is a fact, whether something is true or false, what is important, what needs attention, and so on..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

For example, the English word "management" reflects the characteristics of the US culture, ie proactive, optimistic and pragmatic. On the other hand, there is no comparable word (management) in the German language. Thus, if the word does not exist, the concept does not exist.


To deliver a good speech you need to be relaxed, have a simple message and breathe steadily.

You need to handle the adrenaline shot which rushes through your body before your presentation, ie men find their throats will tighten and their voices take a metallic, pushing tone; while women's voices will go up a pitch, pick up pace and start to falter

The best speeches involve having a conversation with an audience and include:

- being honest and authentic
- fit into the big picture
- be positive
- having control of breathing, ie bad breathing can make you speak faster, develop a wavering noise at the end of sentences, feel a tightness in the chest
- avoid alcohol and caffeine as alcohol will dull your senses and spontaneity, while caffeine will dry out your vocal cords

The below diagram shows how the  brain cells communicate


(sources: Peter Drucker, 2001; Alan Pease et al, 2002; Edgar Schein, 2004; Melissa Wilkinson, 2009; Samantha Hutchinson, 2015)


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