Sun Tzu Art of War – Communication Tools

According to the Book on Military Administration, "In battles, as verbal communication can not be heard clearly, cymbals and drums are used as commands" As visual communication and eye contact are hampered, banners and flags are used as signals. Now the purpose of using cymbals, drums, flags and banners is to draw attention of the troops and focus them for combat under the direction of the commander. Once the troops are united as one body, the courageous ones will not advance forward by themselves and the cowardly ones will not retreat by themselves. This is the art of directing larges forces in battles. - Chapter Seven, Sun Tzu Art of War

For battles at night, use more torches and drums. For battles in the day, use more banners and flags. These different means of communication can be designed to influence the judgment of the enemy. – Chapter Seven, Sun Tzu Art of War

As mentioned above, during day operations more banners and flags should be used for communication and during night operations, drums and torches should be used instead. From here we can see how observant Sun Tzu is. He even noted down what type of communication we should use during each battle, but of course the list of tools mentioned is not exhaustive, communication channels should depend on the terrain as well. For example, if you are in a flat terrain, a larger banner (daytime) or fireworks (night) should be used for communication because they can convey accurate messages, if you have explained accurately what each signals mean. But note here is that your signals, not tools, should be like your strategy, it should change with every battle. If you have a fixed form of communication signals, sooner or later, your enemy will be able to decipher them and that that would likely be the result of your defeat. This explains why Sun Tzu said the means of communication can be used to influence the enemy.

Business Application

Communication is very important in business. Communication breakdown can be detrimental to a business, like losing a big client or slow reaction to a rival's move. With a strong understanding of each communication tools weakness and strength would you then be able to use it to your advantage. Good communication system can grant a company great flexibility, shorter reaction time and faster response. It is similar to an irrigation system. With good proper control system of the flow, accurate amount of water, water flowing to the right place, the fields will flourish because of it. These are capabilities that are extremely valuable in this dynamic business environment. Some forms of communication channels are e-mail, letters, internet messenger, telephone, internet telephony or video conferencing and face to face. I will talk about their usage within the company. Please take note that having the proper communication tools is only one aspect of a good communication system though.

E-mail

E-mail could be formal or informal, nowdays because of the corporate frauds that happened in US, companies are now required to keep a copy of all the e-mails that are sent out to within and outside the company. E-mails does not solicit fast response from the recipients. It can be secure if the security system's guideline and usage is strictly adhere to. E-mail is a cheap way of sending information and documents within the company and these information can be stored electronically so cost savings align from these characteristic. But one downfall of communication is emotions are not properly delivered out. E-mails would be suitable for clear cut instructions or information that does not require immediate attention and preferably within a department. Cheap because can transfer with least costs through company even if overseas. It is sooner to technology risks.

Letter

What is described here are paper letters sent from one department to another. It is only needed when you want to formalize a request or a work order. But this kind of communication is slowly being taken over by e-mail. Letters are more concrete than e-mail because electronic files are typically subordinated to suspicion of editing or changing. Letter has the same characteristics as that of the e-mail but since it is tangible, it is not like e-mail where you can deny you have received it .. Security wise, it could be better or worse than e-mail depending on situations. It could be cost if you need to send it overseas. It is more reliable than electronic mode of communication.

Internet Messenger (Instant Messaging)

With the popular use of internet, internet messenger like ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger are being popularized, it allows fast relay of information and nowadays these messengers have the capabilities to help you know whenever the person on the other end is around or not. But again, it lacks the transfer of emotions. The voice and tone of your message can not be sent out through the messenger, even with emoticons, misunderstanding can still occur. What you sent out could have been in a tone of offering help like "What do you want me to do?" But others after reading the message may interpret, you are angry with him for doing something. But Internet messenger has its pros as well, it could have been used as a channel for informal discussion within the company because some of these messengers can allow multiple users in a single chat windows. And it is cheap since most of them are free and information can be transferred overseas cheaply. It is sooner to technology risks.

Telephone

Compare to the other modes that are mentioned, it is a reliably better channel of communication. Because your tonality, voice qualities are also transmitted reducing the chance of your message being misunderstood. But it lacks another communication characteristic that is important and that is body language. It definitely solits fast response because you can only communicate when the receiver is on the other side at the same time. But it can be very expensive if you need to communicate overseas. And reliability should be better than any electronic channel since this industry has been around for a very long time.

Internet Telephony & Video Conferencing

Internet telephony is slowly becoming very popular because SMEs and MNCs can make overseas call cheaply. This also includes video conferencing, which is made more popular with the prevalence of broadband. It has all the characteristics of telephone, with video conferencing being better because body language, to some extent, can be conveyed as well. But reliability could be a problem depending on the infrastructure and service provider available on both sides. Setting it up is cheap with a web camera and broadband connection.

Face to Face

Up till now, this is the best form of communication, the only downside is you despite you can observe and receive the full signals from your conversation party, the same thing can be said for the other party as well.

So choose the proper communication tools to effectively bring your message across. The correct communication tools can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your communication system thus improving your business process.

The Importance Of Communication Skills

Communication skills simply do not refer to the way in which we communicate with another person. It encompasses many other things – the way in which we respond to the person we are speaking, body gestures including the facial ones, pitch and tone of our voice and a lot of other things. And the importance of communication skills is not just limited to the management world, since effective communication skills are now required in each and every aspect of our life. However, in this article we will discuss the importance of communication skills in two areas namely business and relationships.

First, let us concentrate on the importance of communication in business. We can measure the importance of communication skills in the business sector when we take a look at job advertisements. There is little chance that you will come across an advertisement which does not mention that candidates should have good communication skills. Perhaps this is the only criteria which creates a positive impact when a person goes for a job interview. This is because technical qualifications are likely to be more or less the same for the candidates.

Without effective communication skills, a person may find it impossible to climb up the corporate ladder. Promotions come to those who can communicate effectively at all levels, from senior management level to the lowest employee. The use of communication skills in business is covered in more detail at http://www.communicationskillsworld.com

As for communication within relationships, it should be remembered that maintaining good relationships is a way to a healthy lifestyle, and a good relationship can only be maintained by maintaining healthy communication with our near and dear ones. They are the ones we stay with on a regular basis. They are also the ones who see us at our best as well as our worst.

Good communication skills help the relationships to develop along good lines, and ensure that arguments and disagreements are kept to a minimum. Good communication will avoid arguments and insults

Another important part of communication in relationships is taking the initiative yourself. Do not wait for your best friend to call you after a long break. Instead take the phone and also take initiative to start the conversation. Often people have this problem while communicating, which comes from fear. They always think a thousand times whether to approach a person or not. But a person with good communication skills is always the first to start a conversation.

Given the importance of communication skills in both the personal and the corporate world, any individual who want to make progress with their life should develop this important skill.

When, Why and How to Ask for Prepayments and Extra Payments As an Expert Witness

Should you ask for a retainer? Yes, you should. If a case appears simple, a modest retainer fee equivalent to two or three hours of your consulting rate may be fair. You can reduce your initial retainer fee under special circumstances or for limited scope of work. In the same fashion, you can raise your retainer at other times when the initial work will be dramatically larger. After assessing how many hours of initial work you will need to undertake, let that guide you to the size of your retainer.

Be particular about the initial expectations so that you can quantify the initial retainer. Ask, and agree, on the materials you must read, the research or investigations you must complete, and consider what tests you must run. Confirm your understanding with an email, a fax or a letter, depending on the urgency of the work. Then, wait until you've received the retainer check or payment before starting the work. If the attorney tells you that the job is urgent, send him wire transfer information so that he can wire your retainer directly to your bank account. This can easily happen in a 24-hour period.

Always ask for an initial payment before you begin work on a case or you might end up working for nothing. If, by the end of the case, the hours you spent did not consume the retainer, you should refund the difference.

Occidentally an attorney will ask you to do work for free. A free first telephone conversation representatives goodwill and can be an encouragement to engage you when the case seems right. Doing analysis or research for advocates and charging them nothing is unprofessional. On the other hand, you can certainly consider pro-bono work from time to time, just as attorneys occasionally do.

One novel element remains to consider. As your reputation grows, attorneys will sometimes retain you just to be sure that the other side can not employ you. As a result, you should value the use of your name as an expert witness, and considering imposing a minimum fee whenever an attorney wants to retain you. You can apply this minimum charge against services, so it will have no impact on the total cost to the client unless the attorney never uses your services.

In my retainer contract, my terms require both an advance retainer and a replenishment of all or part of the retention from time to time. The amount of replenishment depends on what additional work the attorney requires of me. Some experts require that the attorney or client maintain a minimum retainer. To do so, you should bill to restore that minimum whenever the balance in the pre-paid account for the client falls below a specific level. Ask for new advance payments whenever it becomes similar that additional work will deplete the existing balance in the client's account.

Typically, your client will not have to replenish the retainer if the additional work only requires one to several hours. But you should request advance payment in the following instances:

1. If a sudden surge occurs in discovery materials for your review.

2. If your attorney requests that you travel for conferences and meetings.

3. If any investigations require you to travel to job sites or company offices for observations, meetings, and any other explorations.

4. If your deposition has been scheduled. You will have to reserve a variable number of days in your schedule for the deposition, for a pre-deposition conference, and possibly for the travel time as well.

5. If a trial has been scheduled; you will have the same factors of blocking out time for possible travel, meetings, and testimony.

You should also estimate airfare, hotel, car, and food expenses as well. You can contain those in requested advance payments. If you ask for advance payments, ask for them well in advance. Larger companies often have processing delays for invoices or payment requests. You do not want those delays to stand in the way of your work. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for advance payment. Your business needs to be organized enough to estimate the size of advance payments. You can base those payments on discussions with the attorney about the progress of the case and what work you expect will be required of you.

The most important advance payment is the one that precedes a trial. Be firm in asking for advance payment for your anticipated billings before traveling to testify at a trial. Clients have now spent a large sum of money by the time a trial begins. If the client loses in the trial, he either may not be able, or choose not, to pay you. But because he needs your testimony at the trial, put the pressure on him to pay beforehand and not on you to collect afterwards.

Receiving advance payment for your trial testimony time permits you to respond "No" to the potential cross examining question of whether the client owes you any money.

If the client has now paid you, you can honestly point out that the verdict in the case will have no affect on your testimony.

Effective Communication – Multiple Channels of Communication

As if face-to-face miscommunication were not enough of a challenge, dealing with multiple channels of communication can compound the issue of clear message transmission. One of the most frustrating aspects of communicating to multiple audiences (eg customers, business partners, and senior managers) is the redundancy and repetition intrinsic to the process of repeating the same message, over and over, to different stakeholders.

One of the best ways to handle the need to repeat a message across multiple channels is to identify an "elevator pitch" version of your message. The idea is that you have the good fortune to be on the elevator with the senior decision maker for a project or proposal you have. What do you say in the 30 seconds? How do you quickly and concisely convey the benefits of your message to someone whose time and attention is scarce?

When you consider your elevator pitch, think of the most concise way of expressing the key feature or benefit of your message. The more you understand and internalize the key aspects of your own message, the more easily your audience will pick up on your intended meaning. The American president Teddy Roosevelt was famous for giving "whistle stop" speeches that rented from five minutes to two hours, from the back of a train that rolled through town (this was before television broadcast such messages through the country). When asked how long it took him to prepare a five minute speech he was said to have responded, "About a day." And a twenty minute speech? "A few hours." How about a two-hour speech? "I'm ready to go right now!" The insight here is that to convey your message clearly and concisely takes more work than piling on more words, hoping your listener can sort out your meaning from the vast stream of thoughts spewing forth.

Once you've identified the elevator pitch version of your message, you can tailor it for face-to-face communication at sales and networking events, for print advertising, for online newsletters, and so forth. The elevator pitch clarifies your message's value in a succinct yet versatile manner, suitable for a variety of communication channels.