Hello, and thank you for visiting. I’m Tom Spiglanin, and it’s my pleasure to share with you some of the things I’ve learned about interpersonal communication over the last thirty years. Working with largely educated and technical staff, I’ve seen first hand the value of using effective communication skills. I’ve witnessed countless professionals get promoted again and again to the highest levels within companies, not for their technical expertise or even their business acumen, but because they were effective communicators. When an individual reaches the pinnacle of their technical career, what usually limits further growth is the ability to communicate complex concepts in ways that others can understand and make sense of. As one of my students once said, “The best solution to an important problem is useless if it can’t be explained to the decision-maker.”
This is as true today as it was thirty years ago. The big difference between then and now is, of course, technology and the explosion of media options that enable interpersonal communication across great distances. “Digital immigrants,” as those from my generation are known, learned communication first as interpersonal and face-to-face. We learned the art of the presentation as part of our business skill set. We added email, text messaging, instant messaging, and social media interaction later in life. “Digital natives,” as those who grew up with communication technology and the Internet are known, often need support to learn the art of interpersonal communication and presentation skills in the workplace. This is where I come in.
People need simple solutions for this digital era.
Thirty years ago, the modern personal computer had just entered the workplace and email was in its infancy. Fax machines had become a business staple, allowing the digital transmission of documents (and signatures) in minutes. The worldwide web and the modern Internet would emerge just years later. In a way, the modern workplace was just coming into being, and with it an ever-increasing pace of work that continues to increase to this day.
In those early days, presentations were largely delivered by business professionals using transparencies on overhead projectors, and they were delivered in person. There were few alternatives, and everyone was practiced (even if not skilled) at giving them. Today, we can’t keep up with all the options with new social channels appearing constantly. Within most workplaces, workers typically use or have access to instant messaging, email, digital presentations, teleconferences, Intranet, and videoconferences, among other communiocation channels. Often there are a variety of other social tools, plus the plethora of public online social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. And virtually everyone has a cell phone and text messaging. With all these options, and the still-increasing pace of work, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in interpersonal communication skills.
Believe it or not, interpersonal communication is more important in this digital era than ever before. Too often the wrong channel is used to convey an important message. Too often time is wasted drafting lengthy messages that could easily be handled with a 5-minute phone call. Too often live experiences with others are bypassed for the convenience of a text message – that becomes a series of back and forth exchanges that accomplish too little in too much time.
In short, businesses and people today need help. They need help re-learning how to communicate effectively. They need help knowing how to choose the right medium for their message, and doing so instinctively. They need help using each communication medium for what it does best and to move seamlessly across each. This is where I come in. I can help you individually or your organization be more effective where it matters most – when important decisions need to be made and you need to be heard.
As for formal education, I earned my Ph.D. from Wesleyan University in the field of Chemical Physics after earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry at the University of California at Riverside. I learned the craft of writing during my postdoctoral work at Sandia National Laboratories before joining The Aerospace Corporation, where I have helped scientists and engineers learn to communicate their technical information more effectively for three decades.