Communication is one of the most (if not the most) common challenge we hear from leaders and teams when we ask questions like "how might we help?", "what are you struggling with these days?", or "what would you most like to improve?"
This might not be all that surprising and it might even hit home for you.
After all, we're inundated with information 24/7/365. It’s an extremely noisy world with everyone (businesses, groups, media, people, etc...) clamouring for our attention, trying to get their needs met, their products and services sold and their messages across. And they have a lot of help in making sure they’re effective.
In addition to all this noise, a lot of us struggle to communicate consciously, or with a higher level of intentionality and precision. We have a tendency to just “put it out there”, hoping that the intended message will land and be picked up on the other end.
And when it’s not, we just say it MORE IMPERATIVELY AND LOUDER (OR IN ALL CAPS).
On the journey to helping our clients (and truthfully ourselves) to communicate more consciously and effectively, we’ve developed a model for conscious communication that combines the best of what exists today - simple, proven, and practical tools - with a framework for understanding when and how to use different tools and strategies.
Like the not-so-elegant saying goes…
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
The same applies if all you have is “radical candour”, everything looks like a “crucial conversation”.
Connecting or directing?
Before we get into our communication model, “The 3D’s of Conscious Communication”, it’s important to share an underlying principle we believe exists - the two core reasons we communicate with others.
We like keeping things simple :). We communicate to connect (through our shared needs and values) and to direct (to get stuff done, to get our needs, or the needs of others, met).
In fact, you might argue that all communication comes from a place of “getting needs met” (not to be confused with “being needy”).
The question then becomes, how do we actually do that? How do we foster connection? How do we give direction, and in a way that doesn’t disconnect us?
The 3D’s of conscious communication
Do you know what separates the very best psychologists and therapists from the rest? It’s not their training, or their years of experience, nor their particular style or set of tools. It’s their ability to empathize, hold a safe, non-judgmental space, and to be compassionately present with their clients.
In short, it’s their ability to listen - very deeply - to the needs and experiences of the person sitting across from them. At its core, deep listening is about creating a sense of trust and intimacy (not the physical kind) which in turn, helps to build meaningful connection. And it’s a rare and incredibly powerful skill, a skill that is worth cultivating in all of your relationships, both personal and professional.
A bridge between the first ‘D’ (Deep listening) and the third ‘D’ (Direction), Dialogue is the essential skill of effective communication and leadership.
Here at The Ally Co., we believe that conscious, needs-based, non-judgmental dialogue is what keeps us in an authentic relationship while moving us towards getting tasks identified and accomplished. And we consider dialogue to be a ‘bridge’ between the other two ‘D’s because there is often a fundamental tension between connecting and directing, building relationships, and getting things done.
From exploring and establishing expectations, clearing assumptions, and naming the “moose in the room” or “clearing the air”, to giving effective and meaningful feedback (with the simple BID or more advanced OFNR framework), improving your ability to engage in dialogue with others will dramatically impact your ability to stay in your relationships (connection) and get things done (direction).
There’s a nearly constant pressure in most of our lives to be productive, to accomplish tasks and keep things moving along, both personally (get to cutting the grass!) and professionally (that report isn’t going to write itself!).
This pressure often shows up as a tendency to give direction to the people around us, especially when we find ourselves in a position of relative power in the relationship. And this tendency can create tension and conflict when what we’re directing others to do (meet our needs) is conflicting with their ability to get their own needs met.
This isn’t to say that being directive doesn’t have a place in your communication toolbox. After all, the report isn’t going to write itself and grass won't cut itself! It’s that giving direction, after you’ve established a deep and strong connection, is a heckuva lot easier and more effective.
So, connect, before you direct!
As you can see, we’re passionate about the use of conscious and effective communication for deepening connection, trust, relationships, and impact. If you're interested in learning more, make sure to send us a quick note!