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Consulting That Matters

A Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners

Edited By Jennifer H. Waldeck and David R. Seibold

Each year, thousands of consulting contracts are awarded by organizations to experts who help them with challenges involving people, processes, technologies, goals, resource allocation, decision making, problem solving, and more. These experts – consultants – diagnose problems, recommend solutions, facilitate interventions, and evaluate outcomes that are often related to human communication. Some consultants are academicians skilled in both doing and interpreting research for clients; others are practitioners with little use for research and theory. Driving all of the ideas showcased in Consulting That Matters: A Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners is the premise that sound theory and research are critical to consulting success, and should be the blueprints for successful organizational transformation. Thus, this book is for all types of consultants, including the very best who are at the top of their games and those who believe theory and research belong in ivory towers, not business settings. Featuring a «who’s who» of preeminent communication scholars/consultants, each author shares frameworks, strategies, and examples from their own diverse experiences, all grounded in rich, substantive theory and research. The volume offers even the most skilled and experienced consultants a range of alternative approaches, paradigms, and competencies to build their credibility and make them more valuable to their clients in a dynamic, ever-evolving business climate.
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Chapter Eight: Communication Skills for Consulting Excellence


← 126 | 127 →CHAPTER EIGHT

Communication Skills for Consulting Excellence


Texas State University

Warren Buffet, one of the richest persons on earth, once announced to MBA students at his alma mater, Columbia University, that he would offer $100,000 to any student in return for 10 percent of their future earnings. He then announced that if the student would take a communication class, he would increase his offer to $150,000. According to Buffet, taking a communication course was one of the best investments he had ever made (Toogood, 2010). Buffet’s advice is just as relevant to consultants as it is to MBA students; communication skills are highly valuable assets in the consultant’s tool kit. All consultants, regardless of their subject matter expertise, need a set of core communication competencies that will enhance all they do—from needs assessment to proposing the consulting project, to executing and evaluating it. This chapter presents several communication skills that a professional consultant should master and use frequently.

Although being a skilled communicator and consultant involves the performance of specific behaviors, communication effectiveness involves more than mere technique. Effective communication is anchored in theoretical assumptions about competent communication (Morreale, 2009; Spitzberg, 1983, 2000, 2006), as well as decades of communication research and communication theory (Littlejohn & Foss, 2008; Salem, 2012). From a theoretical perspective, competent communication is based on a learner possessing three things: knowledge, motivation, and skill (Morreale, 2009; Spitzberg, 1983,...

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