National Communication Expert Shares 4 Tips for Overcoming ‘Fake Talk’ to Build Employee Trust

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The 2014 APA Work and Well-Being Survey fixed the spotlight on the breakdown of trust in U.S. workplaces. Nationally recognized communications expert John Stoker offers 4 conversation tips curated from his new book "Overcoming Fake Talk" that are guaranteed to help solve the issue of low-trust professional relationships.

Overcoming Fake Talk should be the mantra of anyone who's determined to get great results, consistently.

Earlier this year, the American Psychological Association released its much-anticipated 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey – a study that revealed a startling absence of trust in today’s employer-employee relationships. “This lack of trust should serve as a wake-up call for employers,” warned David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “Trust plays an important role in the workplace and affects employees’ well-being and job performance.”

The APA’s survey cites a number of culprits for the lack of trust in today’s professional relationships, one of the most significant being that only half of U.S. workers believe their bosses are “open and upfront” with them. In fact, the study cites “effective communication” as one of the top three skills leaders should develop to build trust with their employees.

In his book "Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold REAL Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results," nationally recognized business communication expert John Stoker offers a solution to the APA’s “call to arms” for greater trust in today’s workplaces. “We’re suffering from an epidemic of what I call ‘counterfeit conversation,’ or ‘fake talk,’” says Stoker. “This is an approach to communication that undermines our ability to have trusting relationships at work because we fail to talk openly and effectively about what matters most.”

With a promotional “buzz week” kick-off for his book planned for the second week of September in 2014, Stoker is offering four complementary field-tested tips for creating “real” conversations that are guaranteed to instill greater trust in professional relationships:

Tip #1: Recognize thoughts and judgments. Self-awareness of how thoughts affect behavior is the key to developing effective communication. By recognizing and suspending thinking or judgments, professionals become able to set aside their agendas in order to hear and consider other points of view.

Tip #2: Express thoughts without creating resistance in others. Talking about what matters most can lead to conversations that are passionate, assertive, and even aggressive. Learning to express positive intentions through the lens of “we” rather than “I,” professionals can interact in a way that invites cooperation and contribution, rather than confrontation.

Tip #3: Ask questions to increase understanding. Asking thoughtful questions with the goal of understanding and exploring others’ points of view increases awareness, creates respect, and improves engagement. An added bonus: Asking questions can uncover innovative answers to organizational problems.

Tip #4: Listen to what’s being said – and not said. It’s not enough to listen to the words of others’ messages. What’s not being said must be “heard,” as well. Listening occurs with the ears; true attention occurs with the eyes, heart, intuition, and body. The trick is to listen beyond the verbal message to the nonverbal cues.

In "Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold REAL Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results," Stoker details the nuances and mechanics of creating authentic, transparent, results-oriented conversations. "Overcoming Fake Talk should be the mantra of anyone who's determined to get great results, consistently,” shares Stephen M.R. Covey, bestselling author of The Speed of Trust and Smart Trust. “It is a breakthrough book because it so clearly identifies communication problems that relatively few people understand how to solve. It offers the principles, practices, and skills so necessary for honest, trust-building conversation. If you're truly interested in respect, relationships, and results, this book is for you."

A promotional buzz week for "Overcoming Fake Talk" is slated for the week of September 8. That week, the author will be sharing his expertise during a complementary webinar hosted by marketing firm Weaving Influence on Thursday, September 11, at 12:00 pm ET. For more information or to sign up, visit the webinar sign-up page. To review a complementary downloadable book chapter, watch the book trailer, learn more about bulk buy offers, book the author for interviews or guest blog features, or download shareable graphics and tweets, visit To sign up to assist the author by participating in the buzz week, please visit the sign up page. To see what others are saying about Overcoming Fake Talk, visit the author’s Amazon page.

Author John Stoker has been helping top professionals develop powerful conversational skills for more than 20 years. He has vast experience in designing strategic change efforts and in creating and implementing training curriculum in support of company-wide improvement initiatives. He holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Behavior and a J.D., and is the founder and president of DialogueWORKS, Inc. John’s new book has been featured in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes,com, and SmartBlog on Leadership. For more about John or to arrange an interview, please visit

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Megan Constantino
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Weaving Influence
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