Professional discussions have to remain just that. . . professional. They have to be based in mutual respect. My mentoring advice has always been:
“Reasonable people speaking in reasonable tones arrive at reasonable conclusions.”
Good judgment and wisdom are required to know when to talk about what with whom. There are six “rights” that come into play:
The right PERSON (Who):
1) The right person has to bring the message. We all have had experience with others that get us to the emotional spot where we can’t hear anything they say, and 2) We need to talk to the right person. Communication requires a sender and receiver.
The right SUBJECT (What):
We all have a lot of things to talk about. Some are more important and timely than others. We need to address the topic best served at that point.
In the right PLACE (Where):
So, you happen to meet somebody you want to talk to in the men’s room, at a set of urinals. That’s probably not a good place to talk about much of anything. Pick a more professional setting.
At the right TIME (When):
You’re sitting next to the person to whom you need to speak in a meeting. They’re paying attention to the topic at hand. You lean over and try to whisper your message. Unless you’ve just told them that they’re on fire, or that their boss is calling, it’s probably the wrong time. It would be better to pass a note requesting a time to talk.
For the right REASON (Why):
Most people can sense when you’ve only got yourself, and something that will only benefit you, in mind.
Using the right APPROACH (How):
Don’t use the hard sell when simple persuasion will work. Physical violations, like getting up in someone’s face or pointing a finger, will destroy most communication.
Use a TONE that is not coercive, maintains trust-based relationships, and supports working as a cooperative team. Communication should result in CONCLUSIONS. They should be articulated as activities, outputs, and outcomes in a constructive, win-win manner.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently an Expert-in-Residence at the Macomb-Oakland University Incubator and a volunteer with other clients.