How-to book teaches profitable communication skills

23 September 2002
"ALL BUSINESS communication messages – visual and verbal – are public relations opportunities to enhance working and professional relationships, both within and outside any organisation," says Terri Grant, co-author with Rea Borcherds of a new book, Communicating @ work: boosting your spoken, written and visual impact when results matter.

Grant is one of the original team of founder members of the Professional Communication Unit (PCU) which is now part of the Career Development Programme (CDP) in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED). She is also convenor of the PCU courses in commerce and computer science. A former director of the PCU, Borcherds works in private practice as a communication trainer and executive coach.

As the title suggests, the 272-page, three-part volume deals with spoken, written and visual messages. Described by one reviewer as a "how-to book", Communicating @ work tackles the challenge of communicating in a diverse, fast-changing work environment by providing a holistic, skills-based approach to communication. Importantly in today's business climate, it also contains examples illustrating how readers should deal with unique and often unpredictable situations.

"The book arose as the old generic book we were using had become too outdated," Grant said. "Also, more specialist business trends and information on computer-mediated communications were becoming crucial. I had so many handouts and extras run off for each student it was becoming unwieldy and new specialist books were born, one group of authors working on an EBE manual and Rea and I looking at business communications."

Thus although the volume will be used as a PCU student handbook for selected students, it is intended for a far wider audience, including IT specialists and businesspeople, from small businesses to large multi-nationals.

Speaking at the book's launch, Melissa Steyn, Director of iNcudisa, the Institute for Intercultural and Diversity Studies of Southern Africa, said the work represented a "quantum leap for contextually appropriate communication texts in South Africa".

"The book never loses sight of the fact that, while dealing with different media, formats and techniques, at base communication is always about dealing with people and the need for respect, consideration and integrity. The recent history of corporations like Enron and Worldcom remind us that these values not only produce good communication, but also good business and a good society; and that there are human and social consequences of the way we communicate," she noted.

Communicating @ work was launched recently at the Baxter Theatre Centre and is published by Oxford University Press, selling at R190 in paperback. It is available at all leading bookstores and is being marketed locally and abroad.

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