A Jeder Institute Project
Author: Aleks Jovanovic – Behaviour Support Practitioner
Due Date: February 2020
Publish Date: February 2020
Buyer Persona: [Anyone]
“A healthy relationship is when two people can communicate openly and successfully dissolve any misunderstanding.”
It was about 15 years ago that I learned one of the most important lessons about strengthening my relationships with people in my life. I had been recently promoted to a regional manager position. At my first monthly ‘supervision’ meeting with the CEO, I decided to be open and honest about my thoughts relating to what was not working within my region. Most of my discoveries were people focused. I shared with my CEO that certain individuals were not performing in line with our cultural and ethical framework.
I went on and on, identifying the details of my fellow colleagues’ flaws. My CEO let me go on for about 15 minutes and then asked me if he could ask me a question… “What is the good intention behind what you’re telling me Aleks?” he asked. At first, I didn’t understand the question but very quickly I realised one thing. I primarily did not have a good intention. My CEO acknowledged my good intentions and told me that what I was saying was TRUE. However, it wasn’t very HELPFUL, INSPIRING, NECESSARY OR KIND. I knew that he respected me and that he admired my work. Afterall he offered me the promotion after getting to know me over three years in various other positions.
He gave me a printed sheet of paper with the THINK Acronym. He asked me to take it away, he rescheduled our meeting for the following week and asked me to return with the same observations with one difference. “Apply the THINK tool to all of your concerns”.
I felt embarrassed about overlooking something so simple, inspired to prove that I could change, and motivated to apply this brilliant learning to my relationships. We met again the following week and I expressed my gratitude for the lesson. We worked together successfully for several years.
Have you ever been in a conversation and regretted something you’ve said? Did you wish you said something differently or wish you had stayed silent?
Most of us, with a little self-awareness, would answer this with a yes. For those of us who reflect often, it can be a daily occurrence to feel regret after speaking without considering the impact of our message on the people we are communicating with. It isn’t enough to urge you to ‘think before you speak’ – adults in your life probably taught you that before you went to school.
What we need is a framework for what to think about in that moment before we speak. The THINK acronym is a framework for you in the form of five questions.
This simple set of questions isn’t new; I have heard it from my CEO, I know it is often taught in schools and it has been used to help stop the spread of online bullying. It is valuable in many realms, and it is a powerful practice for us as leaders too, which is why I share it with you today.
The THINK acronym gives us five questions to consider in that moment before we say something to lessen the number of times, we wish we had said something differently, and to improve our results in many ways.
Here are the five questions:
- Is it True?
- Is it Helpful?
- Is it Inspiring?
- Is it Necessary?
- Is it Kind?
The questions are easy to read. It should not be too hard to think of many examples whereby answering these questions may have assisted you to: avoid that regret, to grow a relationship and/or to communicate your message with a solution in mind.
Is it True?
This one may seem obvious – we must be honest in sharing messages related to outcomes, plans and expectations. It’s important to remember to be honest in our feedback to others. Remember too that the perception of the truth of our communication will be enhanced when we focus on what was observed without being clouded by judgment.
It is Helpful?
As leaders and yes, we are all leaders, we strive to communicate in a way that is helpful to the person receiving it. If you are coaching someone, make sure that what you share will help them improve or succeed. If it doesn’t help someone achieve more or help reach desired outcomes, why do we need to say it anyway? As you build a more trusting relationship with others people will more frequently see your intention to be helpful, even if the message being heard might be hard to hear.
Is it Inspiring?
Most people want to be supported by people who look for the positive, look to the future and can be supportive. This doesn’t mean to shield people from problems or challenges (after all, we have already talked about making our communication truthful) – it just means that communication that is inspiring is powerful. Especially as a leader, strive to communicate inspiring and hopeful messages whenever possible.
Is it Necessary?
Just because it could be said, doesn’t mean it needs to be said. For me, one of the powerful examples of this is when I am angry, upset or frustrated. If I say what I am thinking, I might feel better, but seldom will it make a positive difference in the situation. If you want to be a more effective communicator, consider this filter carefully.
Is it Kind?
Leaders often have tough messages to deliver. They must be delivered truthfully, completely, and timely. Those same tough messages can be delivered kindly too. This question isn’t suggesting spin or soft selling a message. Rather, it is reminding us to take the other person’s perspective into account, focusing on delivering the message without attacking the person.
Using these five questions before responding will in most cases lead to more effective communication; beyond that, communication using these filters will also help you build relationships and greater levels of trust with others at the same time. As a leader, a colleague, a parent, a friend, a partner, having strong working relationships and high levels of trust allow you to lead more effectively.
I hope that these five questions will help you think before you respond so you can communicate and lead more effectively.
“Learning is never cumulative; it is a movement of knowing which has no beginning and no end”.
– Bruce Lee
Be patient and kind to yourself. Keep learning.
Upcoming blog: Feelings, Emotions, Thoughts and Doing.
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If you are interested in commenting on this blog, please do not hesitate to contact Aleks at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are interested in finding out about the progressive work The Jeder Institute is undertaking visit the Jeder Institute Website: http://jeder.com.au