Closing the Communication Gap: An Effective Method for Achieving Desired Results, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Closing the Communication Gap

An Effective Method for Achieving Desired Results, 1st Edition

By H. James Harrington, Robert Lewis

Productivity Press

316 pages | 27 B/W Illus.

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Improved communication in business means higher profits. Improved communication in government means happier citizens. Improved communication in healthcare means quicker recoveries, fewer lawsuits, and happier nurses and patients.

Closing the Communication Gap can help readers improve communication by closing the gap between what the communicator means and what the listener actually understands. It supplies a complete overview of the various elements and dimensions of effective communication needed to stop talking and start communicating.

Defining and discussing both the formal and the informal communication systems within an organization, the book demonstrates the importance of good communication and details the four types of poor-quality communication. It explains how to create a climate of communication in your organization. It describes how this climate of communication encourages the development of quality relationships as well as what it takes to maintain this culture of communication.

After reading this book, you will understand how to be a better listener, how to use social media in marketing, how to deal with difficult people, and helpful tips for public speaking. You will gain valuable insights on how to talk to your employees, how to talk to your boss, and the best ways to communicate with a corporation.

This book can be read for personal growth or it can be used by a company to teach employees the importance of quality communication. Quality assurance departments will find this book useful in lowering errors and waste in the workplace. The book is also suitable as a communication textbook or supplemental text at the introductory university level.

If a corporation were a person, communication would be the bloodstream.

—Lee Iacocca, Former CEO, Chrysler Corporation

Table of Contents

Good Talk, More Money


Poor-Quality Communication




Withholding Information

Quality Communication

Communication and Language

Quality Relationships

Virtues, Integrity, and Trust

Lifelong Learning



What Happens When Two People Talk—At Work?

The Basic Scoop on the Communication Loop

Meet the Loop

An Autopsy of the Loop

The Loop Has Soul

The Loop Has Issues

The Loop Has Culture

The Formal Loop and Its Shadow

Get Loopy with a Network of Communication Loops

Networks of Loops Loop in Different Directions

Random Communication

Downward Communication

Upward Communication

Lateral Communication

The Complexity of Formal Networks of Communication Loops

Shadow Loops

How to Use the Informal Communication

Network, Also Known as the Shadow Loop



How Do You Talk to Your Boss?


Nothing to Fear But Fear

The Downside of Fear

The Good Side of Fear

Facing Fear

Plan the Whole Process




The Meeting

Concluding the Meeting

Execute the Plan

Follow-up to the Meeting with Your Boss


How Do You Talk to Your Employees?


Create an Environment of Openness and Trust by First Being a Listener

Tell Them Why

Do It with a Smile

Adopt a New Philosophy about Organizations and Employees

Adopt a New Philosophy about Management

Listen with Your Eyes as Well as Your Ears

Listen to the Person and Not Just the Employee

Listen to the Behavior over a Period of Time

Listen to Themes, to Metaphors, and to What Is Conspicuously Not Discussed

Listen to Learn

Create an Environment of Openness and Trust by Becoming an Effective Communicator

Talk to Your Employees

One on One

In a Group

Write to Your Employees


Town Meetings


E-mails, Blogs, and a Tip of the Hat to Texting

Understand Your Employees

Personality Type of Each Employee

Variables Style Management

Five-Way Communication

Communication Channels

Body Language



How Do I Hear What My Teammates Are Really Saying?


Rugged Individualism Dies with the Team

What Makes a Standout Leader?

The Team Takes Precedence over the Individual

Maturity Is Imperative for Good Teamwork

The Ancients Were Right

Know Thyself

Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You

Use the Feedback Loop

Listen to Your Teammate

Repeat Back

Listen to the Feedback

Repeat the Feedback Loop for a Second Time

Use the Feedback Loop with Verbal and Written Team Communication

Discuss Feelings and Body Language

Listening Filters

The Johari Window

Three Rules in Dealing with Emotions in a Team Setting

Use the Shadow Communication Loop to Further the Team Mission

Talking at the Water Cooler

Use the Shadow Loop to Further the Team’s Progress

Hearing Is Nested in a Relationship with Four Stages

Developing Role Clarity: Developing Expectations and Gathering Information

Commitment to the Relationship of Boss/Member of Staff

Stability and Productivity for a Period of Time

Experiencing a Pinch in the Relationship

Dealing with the Pinches in the Relationship Is Crucial

Dealing with Them Immediately and Effectively Maintains Healthy Relationships

Ignoring Pinches in Relationships Leads to Disruption and Conflict

Problems to Solve

Disagreement and Efforts to Save Face

Contest Stage and Efforts to Win

Fight/Flight Stage: Eliminate or Harm the Character of the Other Side

Holy War: The Object Is to Destroy

Restoring a Relationship

Ennui: Settling for the Status Quo and Limbo

Mute Termination: Quit Job or Fire Employee or Staff Member

Pretending to Fix the Relationship: Premature Reconciliation

Unplanned Renegotiation of a Relationship under Extreme Stress

Ending the Relationship



How Do I Hear What My Boss Is Really Saying?


Learn to See the Nonverbal Message If You Want to Really Hear Your Boss

If Your Boss Believes in You, He or She Will Trust and Therefore Tell You More

What the Boss Sees Determines What You Get

Eye Contact (Oculesics)

Posture and Movement (Kinesics)

Dress and Appearance (Objectics)

Gestures and Smile (Kinesics)

What the Boss Feels Determines What You Get

Voice and Vocal Variety (Vocalics)

Words and Nonwords (Verbal Technique and Chronemics)

Boss Involvement (Objectics)

Humor (Verbal Technique Using Kinesics, Vocalics, Chronemics)

What Is Neurolinguistic Programming?

Your Boss Will Tell You More When You Tune in to His Favorite NLP Channel

Check Out Your Boss’s Predicates to Learn His or Her Channel

Check Out Your Boss’s Eye Movements to Learn His or Her NLP Channel

You Can Have Empathy, Sympathy, and Harmony with Your Boss

Check Your Boss’s Gestures, Signals, and Other Telltale Actions

Proxemics: Give Your Boss His or Her Space

Kinesics: Your Boss’s Body Movements Have Meaning


Hand to Face

Folded Arms

Crossed Legs

Eye Signals

The Boss’s Arrangement of Furniture



What Do I Say to a Difficult Person or a Bully?


Do Not Avoid or Ignore Difficult People

The Dictatorial Personality

The Know-It-Alls

The Passive–Aggressive Personality

The Whiner

The Downers

The People Pleaser

The Nonparticipant

Do Not "Pass the Buck"

Use a Procedure to Handle Difficult People

Use Group Learning Tools to Handle Difficult People

Use Early Warning Skills and Prevention to Handle Difficult People

Use Techniques to Handle Difficult People

Use Fairness and Consistency to Handle Difficult People

Use the Company’s Counseling and Mental Health Services to Handle Difficult People

Use Directness and Power to Handle Difficult People



How Do I Talk to My Customers?


Treat All People with Respect

Without Customers, You Are Out of Business

Listen to Your Customers

Look Them in the Eye

Use Friendly Body Language

Give Feedback and Ask for Feedback

Do Not Escalate an Angry Situation

Use Personality Types to Determine Your Communication Strategy



How Do I Communicate to a Corporation from the Outside?


Understand and Respect the Corporation’s Culture

Understand the Corporation’s Personality

Understand the Corporation’s Formal Communication System

Understand the Corporation’s Shadow Communication System

Understand the Corporation’s Environment and Its Pressure/Stress Points

Plan a Communication Strategy

Implement the Plan

Evaluate and Improve the Procedure



How Do I Communicate to a Corporation from the Inside?


Introducing Systems Thinking and the Learning Organization

Understand that a Corporation Is a System

Understand that a System Has Characteristics

Understand that an Individual Within a System Must Develop a System Mindset

System Archetypes Have Been Identified that People

Who Communicate Within Systems Must Understand

How Do You Communicate Well in a System?



How Does a Corporation Use Social Media to Communicate?


The Rapid Prominence of Social Media

The Characteristics of Social Media

The Tools of Social Media and Their Uses

The Steps to a Corporate Voice in the Social Media Arena

The Use of Social Media with High-Performance Teams



Social Communication in the Workplace


Decide to Become Social

Become Objective about Yourself

Discover Your Reason for Being

Know When to Shut Up

Use Social Communication in a Group or Team Setting

Use Social Communication in Public Speaking

What Happened to Sid?



Interviewing Guidelines


Planning the Interview

Interview Guide Preparation

Selecting the People to Interview

Scheduling the Interview

Location of the Interview

Inviting the Interviewees

What Is in It for the Interviewee?

Appearance in the Interview

Recording the Interview

The Interview

Interview Follow-up

Gaining Rapport during the Interview

Interview Techniques for Gaining Highest-Quality Information


Unspecified Nouns

Unspecific Verbs

Words Implying Necessity

Universal Quantifiers



Cause and Effect

After the Interview




About the Authors

In the book, Tech Trending(Amy Zuckerman, Capstone, 2001), Dr. H. James Harrington was cited as "the quintessential tech trender." The New York Timesreferred to him as having a "knack for synthesis and an open mind about packaging his knowledge and experience in new ways—characteristics that may matter more as prerequisites for new-economy success than technical wizardry." The author Tom Peters stated, "I fervently hope that Harrington’s readers will not only benefit from the thoroughness of his effort but will also ‘smell’ the fundamental nature of the challenge for change that he mounts." William Clinton, past president of the United States, appointed Dr. Harrington to serve as an ambassador of goodwill. It has been said about him, "He writes the books that other consultants use." Harrington Institute was featured on a half-hour TV program, Heartbeat of America, which focuses on outstanding small businesses that make America strong. The host, William Shatner, stated "You [Dr. Harrington] manage an entrepreneurial company that moves America forward. You are obviously successful."

Dr. Harrington now serves as the chief executive officer for the Harrington Institute. He also serves as the chairman of the board for a number of businesses. Dr. Harrington is recognized as a world leader in applying performance improvement methodologies to business processes. He has an excellent record of coming into an organization, working as its chief executive officer (CEO) or chief operating officer (COO), resulting in a major improvement in its financial and quality performance.

In February 2002, Dr. Harrington retired as the COO of Systemcorp A.L.G., the leading supplier of knowledge management and project management software solutions when Systemcorp was purchased by IBM. Prior to that, he had served as a principal and one of the leaders in the Process Innovation Group at Ernst & Young; he retired from Ernst & Young when the company was purchased by Cap Gemini. Dr. Harrington had initially joined Ernst & Young when it purchased Harrington, Hurd & Rieker, a consulting firm that Dr. Harrington started. Before that, Dr. Harrington was with IBM for more than 40 years as a senior engineer and project manager.

Dr. Harrington is past chairman and past president of the prestigious International Academy for Quality (IAQ) and of the American Society for Quality Control (ASQC). He is also an active member of the Global Knowledge Economics Council.

H. James Harrington was elected to the honorary level of the (IAQ), which is the highest level of recognition in the quality profession. He is a government-registered quality engineer, a Certified Quality and Reliability Engineer by the ASQC, and a Permanent Certified Professional Manager by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers. He is a certified Master Six Sigma Black Belt and received the title of Six Sigma Grand Master. H. James Harrington has an MBA and PhD in engineering management and a BS in electrical engineering.

Dr. Harrington’s contributions to performance improvement around the world have brought him many honors. He was appointed the honorary advisor to the China Quality Control Association and was elected to the Singapore Productivity Hall of Fame in 1990. He has been named lifetime honorary president of the Asia-Pacific Quality Control Organization and honorary director of the Association Chilean de Control de Calidad. In 2006, he accepted the honorary chairman position of Quality Technology Park of Iran.

Dr. Harrington has been elected a Fellow of the British Quality Control Organization and the American Society for Quality Control. In 2008, he was elected to be an Honorary Fellow of the Iran Quality Association and Azerbaijan Quality Association. He was also elected an honorary member of the quality societies in Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Singapore. He is also listed in the Who’s Who Worldwide and Men of Distinction Worldwide. He has presented hundreds of papers on performance improvement and organizational management structure at the local, state, national, and international levels.

  • The Harrington/Ishikawa Medal, presented yearly by the Asian Pacific Quality Organization (APQO), was named after H. James Harrington to recognize his many contributions to the region.
  • The Harrington/Neron Medal was named after H. James Harrington in 1997 for his many contributions to the quality movement in Canada.
  • Harrington Best TQM Thesis Award was established in 2004 and named after H. James Harrington by the European Universities Network and e-TQM College.
  • The Harrington Chair in Performance Excellence was established in 2005 at the Sudan University.
  • The Harrington Excellence Medal was established in 2007 to recognize an individual who uses the quality tools in a superior manner.
  • The H. James Harrington Scholarship was established in 2011 by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Inspection Division.

H. James Harrington has received many awards, among them the Benjamin L. Lubelsky Award, the John Delbert Award, the Administrative Applications Division Silver Anniversary Award, and the Inspection Division Gold Medal Award. In 1996, he received the Lancaster Award of the American Society of Quality Control in recognition of his international activities. In 2001, he received the Magnolia Award in recognition for the many contributions he has made in improving quality in China. In 2002, H. James Harrington was selected by the European Literati Club to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Literati Award for Excellence ceremony in London. The award was given to honor his excellent literature contributions to the advancement of quality and organizational performance. Also in 2002, H. James Harrington was awarded the International Academy of Quality President’s Award in recognition for outstanding global leadership in quality and competitiveness and contributions to IAQ as Nominations Committee chair, vice president, and chairman.

In 2003, H. James Harrington received the Edwards Medal from the ASQ. The Edwards Medal is presented to the individual who has demonstrated the most outstanding leadership in the application of modern quality control methods, especially through the organization and administration of such work. In 2004, he received the Distinguished Service Award, which is ASQ’s highest award for service granted by the society. In 2008, Dr. Harrington was awarded the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award (UAE) in recognition of his superior performance as an original quality and excellence guru who helped shape modern quality thinking. In 2009, Dr. Harrington was selected as the Professional of the Year (2009). Also in 2009, he received the Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University Medal. In 2010, the Asian Pacific Quality Organization awarded Dr. Harrington the APQO President’s Award for his "exemplary leadership." The Australian Organization of Quality NSW’s board recognized him as the "Global Leader in Performance Improvement Initiatives" in 2010.

In 2011, he was honored to receive the Shanghai Magnolia Special Contributions Award from the Shanghai Association for Quality in recognition of his 25 years of contributing to the advancement of quality in China. This was the first time that this award was given. In 2012, Dr. Harrington received the ASQ Ishikawa Medal for his many contributions in promoting the understanding of process improvement and employee involvement on the human aspects of quality at the local, national, and international levels. Also in 2012, he was awarded the Jack Grayson Award. This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the application of quality philosophy, methods and tools in education, healthcare, public service, and not-for-profit organizations.

Harrington also received the A. C. Rosander Award in 2012. This is ASQ Service Quality Division’s highest honor. It is given in recognition of outstanding long-term service and leadership resulting in substantial progress toward the fulfillment of the division’s programs and goals. In addition, in 2012 Dr. Harrington was honored by the APQO by being awarded the Armand V. Feigenbaum Lifetime Achievement Medal. This award is given annually to an individual whose relentless pursuit of performance improvement over a minimum of 25 years has distinguished himself or herself with work in promoting the use of quality methodologies and principles within and outside the organization of which he or she is part.

Dr. Harrington is a prolific author, publishing hundreds of technical reports and magazine articles. For the past 8 years, he has published a monthly column in Quality Digest Magazineand is syndicated in five other publications. He has authored 37 books and 10 software packages. His e-mail address is [email protected]

Robert D. Lewis (Bob) spent his early years in the civic and religious nonprofit world, where the importance of communication carried an enhanced role. It was there that his study and practice of communication took on serious and academic dimensions. One of his most helpful experiences in communication training was with Dr. John S. Savage, the founder and president of L.E.A.D. Consultants, Incorporated, for 25 years, and currently a senior consultant/trainer for the Kilgore Group. Lewis spent 200 hours in workshops with Dr. Savage and his associates studying listening skills, such as story listening, body language, and neurolinguistic programming theory and techniques. As an ordained minister, Lewis learned the importance of listening, the power of a question, and the importance of effective public speaking.

Currently, Lewis serves on two nonprofit boards of directors and is a trainer, consultant, and financial coach for the APM Foundation for Financial Education ( He also serves as a consultant and the director of financial services for Continuous Improvement Ministries (CIM) of Roseville, California ( He is the vice president for mission support development for Marketplace Missions, Incorporated (MPM), of Auburn, California (, and volunteers his time to help with the children’s home Sonshine Hacienda (http://www.sonshine, operated by MPM in Mexico.

Lewis has served as the senior pastor for three different churches and as the associate director of evangelism for the California Southern Baptist Convention. He retired from the position of executive director of the Sacramento Association of Southern Baptist Churches in 2006.

In addition, Lewis has directed regional training schools and seminars and has served on boards from credit unions to private organizations. Lewis also served Golden Gate Seminary, Mill Valley, California, as a parttime adjunct professor of supervised ministry and served on the committee that reviewed doctor of ministry candidates’ project proposals, project dissertation/reports, and orals. Other teaching experience includes work as an adjunct professor for the Degree Completion Program at William Jessup University, Rocklin, California.

In 1998, Lewis joined the Performance Improvement Network, doing consulting with Dr. H. James Harrington and Dr. Kenneth Lomax. He continues to do contract work with these men. Lewis holds an AA from Missouri Baptist College, Hannibal-LaGrange Campus, in Hannibal; a BA degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee; and the master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control