“The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Conversations go well – or not – depending on Four Ts: tone, timing, topic, total.
With co-workers, bosses, family, friends, and especially significant others, these things can make or break. They either bring you together, OR, kill your connection and cause immediate conflict. Any one of them can be a trigger, and once someone gets triggered, both conversation and connection are dead. If you want healthy, soul-satisfying, productive relationships, learn to master the Four Ts.
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Is your energy/ tone of voice: critical, anxious, overpowering, controlling, or complaining? Or calm, cool, collected, and caring? Some people have an innate edge to their voice that conveys criticism, nervousness, or control whether they mean to or not. These must be softened. We know that body language suggests tone as well. If your voice says nice but your face says mean, guess what others will hear.
Have you ever been deep in thought or intently focused on a project, only to have someone interrupt? When you were a youngster, did you ever wait for Mom/Dad to be in a good mood before asking for something important? There’s a reason for the saying, “Timing is everything.” Be sure to check, “Is this a good time?” or “When is a good time?”
It doesn’t matter how you manage your approach if the topic is a sensitive subject, and what is sensitive is unique to the individual. This makes timing and tone all the more important, and it may require the extra step of getting permission to broach a subject. Asking permission creates a level of safety that opens communication. Otherwise, you risk barging in, crossing boundaries, offending the other person, and shutting the interaction down.
We’re talking word count here. One of the fastest ways to turn people off is giving too much or too little information. Did you know that when you talk too much, others experience physical pain? That when you say too little others feel blocked or confused at best, and at worst, deceived?
Effective conversations lead to successful work, happy relationships, and fulfilling lives. Here is a formula that can help: RAISE.
Respect and responsibility
Four T Communication boils down to respect, and with that comes the responsibility to manage your delivery. The challenge is: you can’t give what you don’t have. If you don’t respect yourself it will be impossible to respect others. Better said, the ways in which you disrespect yourself will show up in disrespect for others. Improving your ability to communicate starts here.
Acceptance, appreciation, knowing your audience
For any of the Ts to work, you must know your audience with appreciation and acceptance. This requires getting out of yourself and into another’s world. What is it like to be them? How is your communication landing? What do you need to know about them to be more effective?
Know yourself and you more easily know your audience. Understanding what triggers you will help you avoid doing that to others. Looking within is a key factor for outer success.
It requires a lot of strength to be an effective, respectful communicator. You must manage yourself, set boundaries with yourself, and think before you speak. It isn’t easy, but practice makes perfect(ish).
In a world that needs more compassion and loving care than ever before, each encounter is an opportunity to elevate others around you. How can you RAISE your speaking to a level that leaves others more valued, inspired, and empowered? Through RAISE we contribute to making the world a better place.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Some people are sensitive no matter how well you 4T, so be aware, be strong, and be gentle. Also, if you have an irrational person in front of you, additional strategies are required.
Be a Good Listener
Partner with others in their communication by being a respectful, responsible listener. We lose that ability when we let ourselves get triggered by another’s breach of timing, tone, topic or total. As the listener, your job is to manage your reactions. No one can make you feel anything, so when you get triggered, it is up to you to rectify that. It’s ok to ask your speaker to use a different tone, different words, or take it up at a different time. But first you must be aware of and get a handle on yourself.
Lifting weights at the gym isn’t easy, but it makes for a strong, fit, muscular body. Lifting the spiritual weights required for Four T Communication builds an inner power that is both joyful and freeing, and builds loving and lasting connections with others.