Making connections

Talking with other people is an integral part of our lives, at work, at home and socially. Talking to good effect requires some skill: building relationships with colleagues, clients, partners and friends, and staying connected with them, in order both to get things done and maintain the relationship.

This book invites you to

  • explore a wide range of behaviours, all of which are equally important, when used appropriately and at the right time;
  • understand the importance of and nature of “trust”, as the foundation upon which all true connection must be built;
  • discover the complexity of effective communication processes.

The theory underpinning the book is based on over 30 years of internationally based empirical research by the authors, augmented by the findings of renowned communication experts. It is presented in an easy to read text interspersed with diagrams, case examples, anecdotes and quotations. Most importantly, the book introduces dozens of reflective activities and practical exercises which will help – and challenge – you to

  • develop a deeper awareness of your own strengths;
  • identify areas for improvement; and
  • develop the flexibility to be able to meet any interpersonal challenge with confidence.

“Your book has been very useful to me in that it gives me a practical guideline to express more clearly what I want. I think its because it isnt purely theoretical, and so serves as an aid in actually changing behaviour, that I feel inclined to read it in chunks rather than all at once. The way the material is presented makes it very easy to immediately apply it to practical situations, as long as I do it bit by bit. So while its a process rather than an instant result, the book really does help me get further! “
(Sophia Hendrikx, Haarlem, The Netherlands)

“I found the book quite challenging in a good way. Each of the chapters ends with a section of experimentation and reflection and I found myself with a lot of things to experiment and reflect on. This is not a self-help book but as I went through the book I did find myself changing as a result of these reflections. This is a great book for anyone who is interested in communication skills.”
(Rintu Basu, quoted from

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Also available in Dutch, the
E-book version from Eburon
Dutch paperback version from Nieuwe Trivium

Other books by Learning Consortium Members

Getting Results Without Authority: The new rules of organisational influence
Geof Cox. BookShaker, 2010. ISBN 978 1 907498 30 5
Also written by Learning Consortium member Geof Cox, this book is aimed at anyone working in situations where their success depends on the outputs and co-operation of people over whom they have no direct authority – those working in project or matrix structures, contracted or outsourced operations. This book will help you to develop approaches to get what you want whilst simultaneously building, or at least maintaining, a positive working relationship.

To read some reviews of this book, click here
To order this book at a special web price of £10.00 (free delivery in the UK, delivery plus £1.00 outside UK), click here

Free Space: Philosophy in Organisations 
Jos Kessels, Erik Boers & Pieter Mostert. Boom – Amsterdam , 2004. ISBN 90-8506-047-8
NL: Vrije Ruimte: Filosoferen in Organisaties. Boom, 2002. ISBN 90-5352-827-X
Drawing on their many years of experience as consultants and trainers, the authors, including Learning Consortium’s Erik Boers, have taken philosophy out of the academic setting and into board rooms and management teams, with a practical essay on the modern application of the original ‘liberal arts’: dialectics, the art or skill of conducting dialogue; rhetoric, the art of persuasion; and grammar, the art of crafting written messages to achieve maximum impact.

To read a review of this book, click here
For more information and for a link to order this book from the publishers, click here.

Ready-Aim-Fire Problem Solving: A Strategic Approach to Innovative Decision Making,
Geof Cox. Oak Tree Press, Dublin , 2000.
ISBN 1 86076 172 0
Written Learning Consortium member Geof Cox, this easy-to-read book applies Personality Types (Myers-Briggs) and Team Process Roles (Belbin) to help teams review and re-plan their approach to decision making, with case studies and practical exercises on how to put all this knowledge into action. Walt Hopkins: ‘The best thing about this book is that once you have discovered your strengths within the Ready-Aim-Fire sequence – and thus discovered your weaknesses – Geof gives you specific techniques to fill in those gaps.’

ORDER THIS BOOK: To order this book at a special web price of £8.00 including p&p in Europe, click here
25 Role Plays for Interview Training
Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault. Gower, Aldershot , 1997.
ISBN 0-566-07903-0
A collection of role play exercises compiled by Learning Consortium member Geof Cox, covering situations for selection, appraisal, discipline, counselling and separation interviews. All instructions for running the role plays, including observation and feedback guides is included.

50 Activities for Creativity and Problem Solving
Geof Cox, Chuck Dufault and Walt Hopkins. Gower, Aldershot , 1991.
ISBN 0-566-02980-6
A collection of creativity and problem solving exercises compiled by Learning Consortium member Geof Cox, this is a practical guide for trainers and consultants with easy to follow instructions for conducting each activity and in a loose leaf folder to allow easy access to the photo-copyable pages.


Articles by Learning Consortium Members

Click on the article’s title to download a free pdf file (please see our copyright and reprint policy).

How to Survive in the Matrix by Geof Cox
Working in a matrix or project structure requires different behavioural skills to those we use in more traditional hierarchical structures – and ones that are not normally taught or developed by management training courses. In this article, published in Cuttings and in Projects at Work, Geof Cox outlines the six key skills for working effectively in a matrix.

Helping Others by Nico Swaan
A short essay  inspired by STARING AT THE SUN: Overcoming the Terror of Death by Irvin D. Yalom.

Thinking About Influence by Adrie van den Berge, Erica Koch, Nico Swaan
How an individual thinks about influence in great measure determines how that individual acts when seeking to influence another person. In our many years of offering various forms of influencing skills programmes and workshops we have also learned that merely attempting to train effective influence behaviour has little lasting impact – unless participants are also challenged in terms of how they perceive, think about, or frame ‘influence’, and the influence situations which give them difficulty. This article sets out to examine how individuals tend to frame influence, and how, using an approach developed by Chris Argyris (1992), this thought process can be challenged. First published inOrganisations & People , Volume 13 Number 2, May 2006

Socrates Meets Freud by Erik Boers
Why Socrates would look with wonder at ‘trainers’. This article examines and analyses the practice of management training from a philosophical perspective, drawing on personal reflection and the writings of thinkers in the philosophy, psychology and training professions. First published in Organisations & People , Volume 13 Number 2, May 2006

Time on our side and Discovering the benefits of flexible workingby Geof Cox
Two articles describing the introduction of flexible working practices in Dundee City Council social work department. Learning Consortium member Geof Cox was the lead consultant in a series of consultancy projects which led Dundee Social Work Department to introduce flexible working through the use of innovative and highly participative processes, leading to massive increases in productivity and morale. Time on our side, First published in Community Care, October 2004. Discovering the benefits of flexible working, First published in AI Practitioner, November 2005.

Ready-Aim-Fire: Balancing the team for quality results, by Geof Cox
Each of us takes on two roles when we work in a team. There the task role-what we do in a team, and a team process role-how we do it. We each prefer a particular process role, and will tend to follow that role in any team that we work in, whether or not it is appropriate for the success of that team. Research on effective teams suggests that a balance of process roles is required. How do you get that balance. (A more developed version of this model is published in the book Ready-Aim-Fire Problem Solving , by Geof Cox, Oak Tree Press, 2000.) This article was published in South Africa in Connections , The Dorrian Consulting Group, August 2004

Developing inclusive strategies, by Geof Cox
Bringing about organisation change is made more difficult when the planners are divorced from the people affected. Geof Cox looks at large-group intervention methods as a means to include all stakeholders in the change process, thereby ensuring that outcomes are more positive and implementation is more effective. First published in Strategy Magazine, November 2004.

Reflections on Training, by Nico Swaan
‘Training’ is a word with different meanings to different people. Nico set out to explore what it is that he and his colleagues are in fact doing when they engage with a group in a ‘training’ activity. The article provides insights into the basic values underlying our approach to this core Learning Consortium activity. It is an ongoing reflection, this version (number 4) dates from November 2003

How to develop top performers, by Geof Cox
There is no doubt that hiring and retaining the right people has a huge impact on financial performance, and ‘talent management’ has become the new biz-word, yet research carried out by OPP Ltd shows that companies are not doing enough to capitalise on the asset: 84 percent believed that there is undiscovered talent in their organisations and over three-quarters had no strategies in place to either recruit or retain talented employees. First published by December 2003

A Theory of Everything , by Jem Scanlan
Coming from a scentific background, Jem has been fascinated by the idea of a ‘theory of everything’. In this article he puts his theory to work on his view of the three core competencies for 21st Century managers: Coaching, Project Management and Learnership based on a foundation of Core Values. This original article was written in May 2002, a version was published in Organisations & People , Volume 10 Number 2, May 2003 under the title: Life Projects for 21 st Century Leaders

Focus on Influence: Roots, by Nico Swaan
‘Focus on Influence’ is Learning Consortium’s most successful single training programme design. Though very much our own development, the ‘roots’ and origins of the programme go back many years. They can be found in the pioneering and innovative work of Roger Harrison, carried out in the early seventies, as well as to other sources. Initially written in 2003, this article provides extensive background information on the current successful design.

Demian Revisited, by Nico Swaan
Determining one’s personal goals in life and committing oneself to them is not a one-off event. It needs to be an ongoing activity. Goals change, commitments have to be renewed. When commitments are sincere, then the circumstances will unfold which make the achievement of life goals possible. Herman Hesse’s ‘Demian’, Joseph Jaworski’s much more recent book ‘Synchronicity’ as well as personal experiences triggered this article written in December 2000.

The Creative Organisationby Geof Cox
This article looks at how to structure and balance an organisation to be creative and innovative – and to survive. It also looks at the management of creativity within the organisation – how to attract and release it. In focusing on these two aspects of the creative organisation, the article draws on the experience and practice of some of the leading innovative organisations across the world. First published as a chapter in The Gower Handbook of Management, Gower, Aldershot , 1998, ed. Lock, D.

Influencing, by Geof Cox
This article is in three parts. The first part investigates the growing need for influence skills in organisations. The second part looks at the fundamentals of power and influence and the sources of power that we can use when seeking to exert influence. The third part introduces a model to help analyse situations and plan for effective influence which will maintain or enhance the relationship between the parties as well as getting what you want. First published as a chapter in The Gower Handbook of Management, Gower, Aldershot , 1998, ed. Lock, D.

What’s the best that could happen? by Geof Cox
Appreciating what works in organisations is a mindset that is contrary to our normal problem solving processes that seek to identify what is going wrong and trying to fix it. This article explores the process of Appreciative Inquiry through the eyes of a participant at a company conference – starting out with scepticism, then seeing the power and application o the process to her own personal life as well as the company. First published in Executive Secretary, Volume 10, Issue 1, March 1998

Developing a Whole Organisation Culture, by Geof Cox and Walt Hopkins
As an organisation grows and develops, the organisation culture that originally proved so helpful may begin to get in the way. The functional organisation becomes a series of bureaucratic committees…A young company racing along a visionary track can discover that the track becomes a rut…We need to understand the set of values, beliefs and actions that make up our organisation culture and use that understanding to create an organisation in which people want to give their best…This article was first published inThe Cultural Diversity Sourcebook , ODT Inc, 1996, eds. Abramms, B. and Simons, G