If you develop systems or software for a living, you know that communication is essential for success.
Developers, managers, and testers have to understand each other clearly in order to meet client requirements, build work-related relationships, and survive time pressures and market demands. So often, though, communication breaks down, and we shout at each other across communication gaps that widen into yawning chasms.
Thankfully, Naomi Karten—author of "Managing Expectations"—is here to help. Readers learn how to improve the way they handle a wide variety of communication conflicts, from one-on-one squabbles to interdepartmental chaos.
"Communication Gaps and How to Close Them" is a must-read for anyone who needs to address communication gaps in professional encounters, as well as in personal ones. This book will change not only how you communicate but also how you think about communication. With Karten's useful insights and practical techniques, readers can master this key component of successful projects.
Review By: Becky Ellis, CSTE, CSQA 07/06/2010This book identifies common types of miscommunication that occur in workplace and personal settings and offers insightful and practical approaches towards improvement. Naomi Karten uses examples that will cause an 'aha!' reaction in many readers as they recognize themselves and co-workers at loggerheads over one communication snafu after another. The examples and writing style used by the author are clear and down-to-earth. Karten uses models from organizational theory and family therapy theory to uncover the real dynamics of the interaction. She also proposes ways to figure out what actually happened and why, and suggests (with wonderful, accessible examples) where to go from there, and how to do it better next time.
The book is structured in four sections: everyday interactions, relationships, customer service, and dealing with change. The first section identifies and categorizes common communication gaps. The second describes more gaps as they occur in teams and other relationships. The third focuses on customer service, including how to get honest and useful feedback from customers, and how to develop and maintain service level agreements (SLAs). The fourth deals with the thorny topic of corporate change, from simple task change to layoffs; it is a thoughtful and useful guide for understanding feelings about change and improving communication to help facilitate change.
The first chapter ("Mind the Gap") is an overview and outlines the basic principles that will be repeated and amplified throughout. The included footnotes are interesting and useful. The table of contents is a good outline of the book, and shows the detailed breakdown of each section so sufficiently that it can double as an index. That's handy, because unfortunately the index is not reliable or useful in many cases.
This book is useful, enlightening, and fun to read. The examples and different models Karten applies to communication problems give the reader an effective set of tools for self-understanding, and for creating positive change in the workplace. They encourage a creative, rather than a prescriptive, approach to problem solving and understanding human nature. The book is relevant to project managers, anyone in a team structure, and anyone who merely wants to better understand their own ways of communicating in different situations. It is particularly useful for anyone who needs to communicate from one group to another (for example, software developers getting requirements from customers or business users). The sections on customer service (including SLAs) or on managing change in the workplace can be used as a guide to navigate the waters there.
The book is filled with the uncomfortable situations that litter everyone's career. Karten provides the reader with a framework for understanding dynamics and feelings, and insight to manage situations as they arise again. She uses a variety of tools and models, such as Satir’s Change Model, for understanding and improving human interactions. A few of the situations are described using more than one model. By applying different filters to the same interaction, she equips the reader to approach problems with confidence and flexibility. The book is practical and useful. After you read it, you'll want to pass it around to everyone on your team.
This book identifies common types of miscommunication and offers insightful and practical approaches to improvement. Naomi Karten presents solid models from organizational theory and family therapy theory and uses them to uncover the real dynamics of the interaction, propose ways to figure out what actually happened and why, and suggest where to go from there and how to do it better next time.