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“Can You Hear Me?” By Nick Morgan – a Harvard Business Review Press Book

In today’s hectic world, digitally interconnected more than ever, “Can You Hear Me” is a valid question. Nick Morgan’s previous HBR book (“Power Cues”) has found its continuation in the online realm, where everybody pushes the message to all others but rarely manages to be heard. In this respect, “Can You Hear Me – How to Connect with People in a Virtual World” is a continuation of “Power Cues”. First you need to command respect and attention (“Power Cues”). Then you should properly communicate (“Can You Hear Me?”). Next? I am pretty sure Nick Morgan has something in store…

The book is an easy to read communication treat. It follows a semi-academic structure:

– lays the ground of why?, 

– looks at the problems associated with virtual communications…

– …and lists several specific techniques for virtual channels.

Sounds simple? It actually is. Each of the last techniques chapters ends up with practical fixes on the communication breakdowns – which come in very handy. On top of these, “Can You Hear Me?” comes packed with reasearch and case studies. For example, did you hear about “nomophobia”? Me neither (before reading this book) – is is about the fear of being disconnected from the online world for more than a few minutes. I must confess, I myself managed to annoy my family quite a few times in the past with my mobile phone checks every half an hour. Somehow, I grew over – probably having this book in my hands before that would have helped a lot.

One of the most interesting chapters for me was “6. Email, email alternatives and texting”. As a finance professional, I am often an abuser of email, forgetting ever again that this is an impersonal, cold communication channel. Nick Morgan looks slowly through its main fallacies and then offers simple solutions. You could even print them on a sticker and put them on your monitor: “Maintain clarity, a viewpoint, a clear idea, hierarchical thinking and grace of expression.” Beautiful, isn’t it? What could be easier? Except the whirlwind of emails landing our inboxes every day… But don’t fear, there are plenty of hints for that too.

Considering that the “human psyche is fed on in-person interaction”, Nick Morgan embarks on a quest of healing our digitally interrupted personas, on a constant challenge to be heard out. “Can you hear me?” is actually not a question, but a quest for meaning. 

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