COmmunicating to connect - with everyone (no, really)

Scott R. Thomas
President, PeopleWorx, Inc.

There is a quote, from John Maxwell, that I've often seen referenced. “Many people think they are communicating when they provide information in the form of memos, e-mails, reports and the like. But they're not. Information is given out communication is getting through. As you can imagine, there is a world of difference between giving out facts, figures and other material and actually getting through to people.”

The rest of that portion of Maxwell’s quote, often left out, is:

“I can't offer you one sure-fire method of communicating that is guaranteed to make your audience understand you completely every time you open your mouth." (John Maxwell) – and he goes on to provide some things that can limit communication effectiveness.

Well, John Maxwell may not be able to give a sure fire method of communicating that is guaranteed to make your audience understand you completely, but I can!

Every single person, whether they realize it at the time or not, is constantly listening for “What’s in it for me?” – they want to know how what you’re saying affects them and what’s really important to them? So, how do you make sure that your audience understands you completely? You do it by making sure that you understand, or at the very least try to understand, what’s most important to them. Here’s a framework to help.

Everyone, including you, is motivated by a blend of three things:

  • People – Concern for being helpful to others, for the well-being of others, for ensuring that the lives of others are improved.
  • Performance - Concern for achievement, getting things done, taking advantage of opportunities and being willing to take on risk for those achievements, and
  • Process – Getting things right, justice, fairness.

Sometimes this blend causes one of the three to be more important than the other two, two of them together to be more important than the third, or sometimes all three are equally important. When all three are equally important, it looks like a strong concern for: the welfare of the group, concern for consensus, inclusiveness, and flexibility.

Consider which of these is most important to you, most of the time. Now (and here’s the kicker), as you think about communicating with someone – anyone -- everyone – consider what is most important to them, and emphasize what you have to say in a way that communicates how it impacts what’s important to them.

If you’re not sure, then ‘touch the bases’ by tying in a little bit of each, and then stand back and watch for the lights to go on as you touch on each concern. When you see the lights go on -- that’s when you’ll know. Remember what that looks like and what they say as a result. You will be able to use that perspective in the future as you communicate new things, topics, subjects, etc.

I hope this helps to improve your communication connection for those daily, high-stakes situations.

About the Author

Scott R. Thomas is the President of PeopleWorx, Inc. - a principle-based consulting firm developing organizations through people and the processs that drive real-world business results - and brings more than 30 years of organizational change management, enterprise program management, project management, and organizational development to his clients in a wide range of industries, including financial services, healthcare services and the utilities industry.

The above referenced principles are drawn from [1] Dr. Elias H. Porter, and Relationship Awareness Theory©, and the Strengths Deployment Inventory©, PSP - Carlsbad, CA. [2] 10 Principles of Change Management, Aguirre & Alpern, Summer 2004 & 10 Principles of Leading Change Management, July 2016.

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