Making a Request

and the Train of Thought

Please click the image above to view a brief overview from Executive Coach Martha Lynn Mangum.

The most successful way to practice speaking straight with respect is to practice listening generously first. The most powerful part of communication is in the listening, not the speaking. If this is the case, then it’s the speaker’s responsibility to make sure his/her communication is being heard in the way it’s intended. There are so many distractions in our listening that keep us from understanding the speaker’s point sometimes. It reminds me of this great cartoon Family Circus:

Photo Credit: The Family Circus by Bill Keane

While the mom probably thought she was being clear in her request, notice that her son appears to have heard it differently and not from a sense of urgency. Perhaps she would have been more successful if she had said, “Please go outside directly to the wood pile, pick up a log, and come straight back into the house to put in the fireplace before the fire goes out.”

I notice there is a whole stream of thoughts that are happening in my head before I make a request. I’m sure my train of thought looks exactly like the cartoon above. I realize that sometimes, I leave out important information or context that could make all the difference in my communication. I also have to be aware that it’s helpful to understand how the listener might be hearing me and adjust my communication so that I’m clear and understood.

This fundamental also focuses on problem solving, collaboration, and the commitment to resolving issues with others. When we are upset, speaking straight respectfully can be a challenge. I’ve learned that if I’m in reaction, I need to take care of getting out of the reaction in order to have a respectful conversation.

My teachers at USM taught me, “How I resolve an issue IS the issue.

If I’m stuck in being right, then that becomes my focus instead of a solution. When I become aware of what’s important to the other person and listen for understanding, then I will more likely be heard in my communication. This is the formula for speaking straight respectfully. It starts with listening.

“One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other’s stories.” – Rebecca Falls

Enjoy the stories,

Martha Lynn

Fundamental of the Week #3: SPEAK STRAIGHT, RESPECTFULLY Speak honestly and clearly in a way that moves the action forward. Say what you mean. Ask questions for clarity, share ideas and be willing to raise issues, even if they may create conflict, when it is needed for success or maintaining collaboration. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected. Take responsibility for getting your message across.

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