February 2010 Newsletter
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Opaque versus Transparent Communication

I have a confession. Each month, as I write my Smart Talk column, I am motivated by an inspiring article, book or piece of research I read OR irritated by communication styles I experience in both my personal and professional life. This month it is irritation!

What is an “opaque” communicator (OC)? I believe this style can be conscious or unconscious. The manipulative OC employs this style for multiple reasons, consciously and deliberately. Perhaps it is due to a perceived threat, insecurity or simply the mistrust of the work environment. The OC is afraid to reveal him or herself to others. Their style reveals part of the picture but not the entire thing. They reveal just enough to satisfy listeners but not everything that might be important. The OC relies on being indirect. This is the person you say to yourself, “I think something more is going on.” Simply, you do not know where they are coming from. Not surprisingly, he or she may not know either!

Do you remember the Johari Window we studied in Psychology 101? The Johari Window model developed in 1955 by psychologists, Luft and Ingram, provided a simple and useful tool for illustrating and improving self-awareness and mutual understanding between individuals within a group. I think it is relevant due to the current emphasis on, and influence of, emotional intelligence, i.e., soft skills, empathy, cooperation, teamwork and interpersonal development. The four quadrants of the Johari Window are relevant to my discussion of the opaque versus transparent communicator:

BLIND: what is unknown by the person about her or himself but which others know.
HIDDEN: what the person knows about her or himself that others do not know.
OPEN: what is known by the person and known by others.
UNKNOWN: unknown by the person and unknown to others.

The opaque communicator generally operates from the “hidden” quadrant and, occasionally, may come from the “blind” quadrant. The result is we feel uncomfortable interacting with an OC style. Decision making suffers, the trust level is low and the bottom line may be impacted. OC’s require some work and effort in drawing them out of hiding and in the case of the manipulative OC, one may need to name the game. Let them know you know they are holding back. Tell them you think more is going on and you have an incomplete picture.

In the next Smart Talk column I will discuss the transparent communicator


February 5, 2010
8:30 am to 4 pm
Victors without Victims: Managing Conflict and Difficult People for a Positive Outcome
Stanford Hospital and Clinics

Center for Education
Palo Alto,California

February 9, 2010 from 7 pm to 9:30 pm
Lokey Graduate School of Business, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd Oakland 94613
Co-sponsored by Mills College Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business and the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco, The MBA women’s leadership and professional advancement Lokey Graduate School of Business  is one of only two U.S. business schools that have as their mission advancing women into leadership positions in business.

 Code Switching: How to Talk so Men will Listen Presentation and Book Signing by Audrey Nelson PhD

February 11, 2010
5:30 pm to 8 pm
American Society of Civil Engineers
USAF Falcon Club

Colorado Springs, Colorado

February 18, 2010
8:30 am to 4 pm
Power of Positive Coaching
Boulder County Training Room
Pearl St Mall


Audrey is on YouTube

Seminar for Managing the Generation Gap
USFS - Leadership Development Program

Did you miss one of the
Smart Talk Columns?

Browse the archives of Audrey’s 2006 to date
Smart Talk Columns on her web!
Simply visit www.audreynelson.com
and click on “Newsletters.”

arrowWSOU Radio (1/23/01)
Seton Hall University - South Orange, NJ

arrowMartha Stewart Living Radio / Sirius XM (1/19/10)
Whole Living hosted by Terri Trespicio “Only available on MS Sirius Radio Directly”

arrowMichele Price the Breakthrough Specialist (1/11/10)
Breakthrough Business Strategies-Code Switching-How To Get What You Want in Business

arrowConnecting Women Radio (12/19/09)
Code Switching

arrowBusiness Women Connect (12/2009)

arrowThe Advisor (12/2009)
HR Managers' Unspoken Messages: Your Face Says It All -

arrowWisconsin Law Journal (12/03/2009)
New book can help female attorneys improve communication skills by Jane Pribek -

arrowYAHOO (11/2009)
He Said, She Said: How Men and Women Talk at Work -

arrowGood Day Colorado Channel 2 KWGN (11/9/200)
Code Switching

arrowBody Matters (11/02/2009)
How women can crack "the code"

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It's here!

Code Switching: How to Talk so Men will Listen
Claire Brown Ph.D. and Audrey Nelson Ph.D.
Penguin Group-Alpha Books
ISBN 978-1-59257-926-6
Check out the new book website! - www.codeswitching.biz
Code Switching: How to Talk so Men will Listen is a hands-on tool for everyday use at the office. It is a practical resource with how-to steps to help businesswomen conquer the communication nuances between men and women in the workplace. This book explores the gender impact on business talk. It teaches using true stories and case studies, while providing valuable “code-switching” tips to help women gain and strengthen credibility and make a greater impact on the job

What people are saying about Code Switching: How to Talk so Men will Listen

God bless you for your book. I sat down last night and started reading and I cannot put it down. I was reading the chapter on communications and handling interruptions and am sure that my employer will get very upset with me if i stop him or anyone from interrupting me. I am frequently interrupted and publicly disregarded. - English Padilla Hopkins

What People are saying about Audrey


You are an awesome woman, I just love your energy, your experience and your expertise.  First time I ever called a guest right after the interview.
Michele Price
The Breakthrough Specialist
Follow on Twitter @prosperitygal
Listen Mon 12pm ET
Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio

Farm Credit Council Services
Joint Large Association & Bank LDP Session Evaluation
Managing Conflict for a Positive Outcome  December 3, 2009

Please indicate which parts, if any, of this workshop need to be improved. Please provide suggestions
for improvement:

  • None - she's awesome. It was fun and informative.
  • Excellent. I really enjoy Dr. Nelson's style.
  • Excellent presenter with valuable information.
  • Great instructor.
  • Audrey was great again!
  • Once again, great structure, relevant.
  • Great job - nice pace, good interaction.
  • Great, useful, applicable.
  • Always enjoy the interaction in Audrey's seminars!
  • Very good - hits areas we deal with everyday.
  • Excellent workshop - interactive and great knowledge.
  • Very good program!
  • Good job keeping it interactive.
  • Great workshop. Lots to take back and use at home and work!
  • I enjoy listening to the stories.
  • Very well done. Good audience interaction and real-life examples
"Audrey's Top 4 CD Communication Hits"