Communication tips

I get a regular newsletter from Stanton Marris a consulting company. The one I got this morning has a brief guide to 'communicating high concern messages'. It serves as a useful reminder, making the point that

"When emotions are involved, too many managers handle the conversation badly, or avoid it altogether."

If only these tips had arrived yesterday before I got into a situation where I did not handle the conversation well. Someone asked me for feedback on a presentation she'd just given. It was one of those cases where I had a point of view, but didn't take enough care presenting it. In that situation the 'The six Cs of Communicating' would have helped.

The author rightly point out "there's a skill to how you use them, but if you follow them in order, you can be sure you have at least touched all the bases:"

Care – show empathy with the person/people receiving the message

Cut to the chase – say in a simple, clear sentence the news you have to communicate

Criteria – give the three main (evidence-based, not opinions) reasons why the decision has been made, or the criteria used to reach a decision

Concerns – acknowledge the concerns of the potential human or personal impact of your message

Confirm – repeat the headline message to re-state the facts, and add any helpful practical details such as next steps

Commitment – genuine personal commitment to provide support, keep people informed, and an organisational commitment to treat people fairly and well.

With a little thought I could have framed a more helpful feedback. And in hindsight I should have declined to give immediate feedback in order to give myself time to think about how to put the message across more effectively. An acronym that would have come in handy had I thought of it (and immediately acted on) is STOP.

This is useful to bring to mind before diving in: Stop, Think, Organize, Proceed. It only takes a minute. I could have stopped myself offering feedback, thought about how to provide it effectively, organized a response e.g. will think about it and come back and give feedback later, proceed with that statement.

Had I done that at the first 'c', care, then the rest of them would have followed smoothly – although one can never be sure. I read with fascination the Joe Barton story this morning. Barton retracts BP apology, regrets 'shakedown' comment. He could have done with the 6 C's, the STOP model and or the GROW model

The GROW model is useful for coaching/feedback conversations. This letters translate as What is the Goal (of the person), What is the Reality (he/she is facing)? What are the Options (available to try out/work with? What Will he/she do? There are many web explanations of it (google GROW Model) and they are all very similar. A straightforward one is on the Management at Work website.

Sadly, as a friend once pointed out to me 'should haves and would haves don't count'. It's what you do that counts. I've learned something for next time I'm asked to give feedback.

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