Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whole Messages

How many times have you wanted to say something but not had the nerve to say it? Or worse still, it came out in the wrong way, or at the wrong place, or at the wrong time ... or all three!

Change Your Thinking has a fantastic chapter on communication, something we all need to do every day. This chapter is so vital that I've actually summed it up on one page and stuck it on my wall.

Part of this chapter is about whole messages: messages to help us get our message across and avoid alienating others.

Here's what a whole message looks like:

  • Observation: I noticed you've been drinking more often than usual lately.
  • Thoughts: I don't think it's that healthy for you.
  • Feelings: I'm worried for your health.
  • Needs: I'd like to find out if anything's troubling you, and if you're okay.
Of course, some of these messages will be difficult to deliver, so a simple preliminary statement can help, saying you're uncomfortable saying these things. If the other person knows you're uncomfortable, they're likely to feel less threatened.

What do you think about these guidelines? Perhaps, like me, you initially reacted against the idea of rules or a framework around relationships.

But as I thought about it, and about uncomfortable situations I've been in, it made more and more sense. This type of information is very valuable.


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