Renée Marino’s Becoming a Master Communicator: Balancing New School Technology with Ol’ School Simplicity is a refreshing look at the communication issues that have arisen for many of us because of the newer forms of technology. Renée shares how to use that technology to communicate better and when it is preferable to return to earlier communication techniques.
We’ve all been there-thought someone was mad at us because of a sentence in an email or text that didn’t come through with the tone intended. Before we go down the rabbit hole of endless texts or silence from a friend or loved one, sometimes it’s best to try another communication technique. As Renée lyrically states: “When my brain starts spinning like a ball, I must stop and give them a call!”
Becoming a Master Communicator is divided into ten chapters about communication techniques and situations. A bonus to the reader is that Renée shares personal stories from her own life to illustrate the points. In case you didn’t know, Renée has been a very successful Broadway performer and even landed the lead role of Mary Delgado, wife to Frankie Valli, in the film Jersey Boys, after playing the role on Broadway. Renée’s story of how she mastered communication skills to achieve her career success convinces me that the tools she offers not only work but can lead others to great success.
Renée begins by exploring the different ways people communicate and helps us to determine our own communication style. She discusses how technology has changed how we communicate, giving us various means to communicate with each other from speaking in-person to phone calls, emails, texts, and video calls. She assesses the pros and cons of each form of communication and when it is best to use each one.
The rest of the chapters discuss how to communicate in various aspects of our lives, from personal relationships to work situations, and practices for learning to communicate effectively. Ultimately, this journey to becoming a master communicator is not just about communication but using your communication skills to transform yourself into the person you want to be. Each chapter is sprinkled with Reflections Sections so you can pause, absorb, and practice what you have learned.
One highlight for me was Renée’s honesty in discussing communication’s role in dating. Too often in relationships, people fail to communicate who they truly are and what they truly want. They are afraid of rejection or finding the other person doesn’t want what they want, but Renée points out that communication is vital in such situations. “I realize being vulnerable can be scary. You may feel that openly sharing your expectations may scare the other person away and you’ll be left alone and heartbroken. But let me ask you a question: Wouldn’t you rather know that now than ten years down the road? If you can flip the script and realize that vulnerability is a key ingredient for strong relationships, then it won’t feel as scary.”
Renée’s discussion about setting expectations upfront is also insightful. Today, she is a communication coach, so she draws on an example of her own work to make her point. “Now, in my current work as a communication coach, when I teach any course, I make sure to verbally state what those attending can expect from the course and what the course is not about. That way, everyone has all the information up front, and no gray area exists to cause miscommunication.”
Renée also clarifies that “Communication does not mean confrontation.” It is just about being honest and upfront about who we are, what we need, and being authentic. Communication is also not always about us. Sometimes it’s about others. Renée believes in the power of kindness, of seeing and acknowledging others. I love the story she shares of how after a performance of Pretty Woman, she walked out the stage door and saw a woman smiling, so she went up to her and signed her playbill. “We began talking, and she told me she had been battling breast cancer for many years. After she shared her story with me, I said, ‘If you can find a way to stay in joy as often as you can, that is the best thing you can do for your health.’ She responded, ‘Between seeing this show today and you stopping to talk to me, I have felt more joy today than I have in a very long time!'” Renée was struck by how her simple act of kindness made a difference for that woman and she went home that night feeling completely fulfilled. In short, communication can help transform people’s lives.
Finally, Renée shares her story of how she played the role of Mary Delgado in Jersey Boys on Broadway and then landed the same role in the film. Besides showing how she used her communication skills to achieve this dream of a lifetime, she shares stories about the filming and how she got to know Clint Eastwood, Christopher Walken, and others, plus the communication skills used on the set. Ultimately, she expresses how completely grateful she is to have had that experience, stating, “anything we express gratitude for shows up more in our lives.”
I feel gratitude to Renée for sharing the communication skills she has learned and now coaches others on. Becoming a Master Communicator has made me rethink my own use of technology in several ways. It has also made me think beyond the message I want to communicate to how that message will be received and will affect others. Ultimately, it has made me believe my relationships with others are of paramount importance so I need to do everything I can to communicate well with others to enhance those relationships. I hope you will read this book and enjoy similar benefits.