January 2017

Four easy steps to improve your communication in 2017
Have you ever felt like you weren’t connecting with someone?  From your perspective, you were communicating clearly, yet the other person didn’t get it? Perhaps the other person interrupted you by asking questions that you haven’t answered yet?
Many people have been exposed to the concepts of different styles.  Most instruments have four quadrants of personalities or social styles or thinking styles or communication styles. If you are familiar with these various assessments, as I am having my education in communication and management, you may have noticed some similarities with the four quadrants.
Even if you aren’t familiar with any of these assessments, they can all be neatly summarized into the four items that everyone wants to know when you are communicating:
1)    What
2)    Why
3)    Who
4)    How
According to Dick Cochran at Comstar, this is the correct order to present your ideas, action items, or requests whether in a meeting or via a written format like email.  Some of you who are detailed-oriented may have noted that “when” is missing; you may add it at the end.

The reason why this order works is because the four quadrants consist of assertiveness and pace of communication on the horizontal axis (low on the left side, high on the right).  People who prefer the  “what” and “why” styles are higher on that scale meaning they are more assertive and less patient, so answer their questions first (#1 and #2). People who prefer the “who” and “how” styles are lower on that scale meaning they like more time to think and respond, so they will wait longer for their questions to get answered (#3 and #4).

Of course, no one appreciates being put in a box.  Most people slide up and down these scales to some degree depending upon the situation and the relationship.  Personally, I care about all four of these questions. Ideally, you’d know your audience and flex your communication to that person’s preference. However, many times our audience reflects all four styles, so this is a general recommendation designed to improve your communication.
I encourage you to structure your meetings and emails using this order, see if it makes a difference for you, and let me know your results.  If you are curious about different assessments to improve your communication and teamwork, please contact me.
Happy 2017!