Your Communication Sucks


So how does your communication style work?  I thought mine was pretty good (as we all do) until I was fortunate enough to read “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott.  The book was loaned to me by Russ Wylie and I owe him a debt of gratitude for sharing it.  I have realised that my communication style basically sucks.  But, I am doing something about it and using the examples in the Scott’s book as the basis for being more conscious in the way I get my message across.

There are two absolute gems of advice that I took from the book and I want to share them with you as, I believe, the more we are aware of these things, the more effective we will be in our family, our work, our friendships and life in general.

Use “and” instead of “but”

You know the discussion – “Jake, you’ve done a really good job on that, but I’d like you to…”.  This immediately tells Jake he hasn’t done a good job at all.  It gets him defensive and serves to build him up only to knock him down.  Not really clever.

How about taking it from the approach – “Jake, you’ve done a really good job on that, and I’d like you to…”.  Message is still the same, however the delivery is such that the message is far more positive, collabroative and supportive.

Over the past few weeks, I have been training myself to adopt this new style of communication and it is working.  As Shakespeare said in one of his plays “but me no buts” – it is a lesson that is worth learning!

What is your Wake?

The other really powerful message I took from Scott’s book is about the impact your conversations have after they have finished.  Scott uses the analogy of a boat crossing a still lake – the boat passes, but the wake from its passing hangs around for quite some time and can cover a lot of the lake surface – well after the boat has disappeared.

When you approach your conversations thinking about the residual effect it will have on the person you are communicating with, your approach and, I have found, language, changes.  You’re more cognisant of the framing and impact of your communication and the end result is that you’re more effective.

As you will apppreciate, the issues around communication are very important and unless you;re communicating effectively, it will be very difficult for people to work/live/grow with you.

As Susan Scott says at the start of her book (and I am paraphrasing here) – the responsibility for getting the message across rests with the person delivering the message – not the person receiving it.

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