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Unlocking the Power of Communication: Three Essential Keys

So, I've been thinking about communication for a few years now. No matter where I go and who I talk with, they all say that communication is a huge frustration. I'd elaborate more on this frustration here, but I'm willing to bet you already understand and maybe are experiencing it right now!

My goal is to help you, so please allow me to share a graphic that I recently created. The intent of this graphic is to help you communicate better. It's a rather simple graphic, but let me explain each part.

First, I believe that to unlock the power of communication, you must have three things.


In almost all communication, there is a request. We are asking someone to do something or to think a certain way. Too often we miss out on ensuring clarity on what it is that we want. I've read that many salespeople don't make the sale because they never actually ask for it. Does your communication include the request?


If you simply request something but don't provide the why, your likelihood of getting it goes down significantly. Parents will often tell their kids to do something and when asked "Why?" they respond with "Because I told you to." That doesn't work. Humans need the explanation of why they need to do something or what your thinking was behind the idea.


Rarely do I see this in communication. The inquiry is the circle back to ensure that communication has been received correctly. If you are doing this face to face, it could be a question like "Please tell me what you've heard." If this is through email, you may close the email with "What questions do you have?" Either way, never communicate without ensuring that communication has been delivered.

What is fun about this graphic is it helps us understand what happens when we don't include all three keys. If you are missing one or two of the keys, you may find yourself described as one of the following:

The Dictator (request only) - This is a you win and they lose situation. You simply tell them what to do. No explanation, no questions, just do it.

The Chatty Cathy (explanation only) - This is a lose-lose situation. The reason it is bad is because you are explaining things but never really getting around to what you want them to do. Maybe you are a true mid-westerner and you just hope that they will infer what you want. That doesn't work. You have to be clear and ask questions for clarity.

The Pushover (inquiry only) - This is where they win and you lose. You care too much for the relationship to assert what you want and why you want it. So you ask questions, listen and just do what they want without contributing your thoughts.

The Informer (no inquiry) - Not a bad place of communication and maybe one you use a lot. You share what you need and why you need it, but you don't check for understanding.

The Delegator (no explanation) - Delegating is actually a good thing, yet it gets a bad rap. The reason lies in the fact that when we delegate we usually tell people what to do and ask if they have any questions but we never take the time to explain why they need to do it. So, people push it off and are not motivated to take action.

The Politician (no request) - This is the most frustrating. They ask lots of questions, they explain lots of things but you really have no idea what they want. It seems like sometimes they are changing the request based on what they hear, trying to make everyone happy but that doesn't work. You truly need all three

These three keys and the graphic are hot off the press for me. I'll be coming back to this subject because I believe that there is a lot more here. In the end, if we include all three we can get to a win-win situation in communication. We can find true collaboration where ideas are valued equally.

For now, take a moment to consider where your communication is. How many of the three do you most often include? Do you find yourself described in one of the profiles? If so, it's time to set the example of what good communication looks like.


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