David Wheatley shared an insight at a recent training that really hit home. He said that the key to engaging with others is direct, honest and respectful communication. Often we’re good at two of these three, and we need to manage for third one. David shared that it comes naturally to him to be be honest and respectful, but he hesitates to plainly state what is really on his mind. This is especially true if he thinks it might be hard for the other person to hear. So he regularly seeks feedback on this and consciously works on how to fully say what needs to be said.

As for me, being direct and honest is my nature. But I am not always respectful when I allow my frustration to rule. I can get snarky and sarcastic, which, in addition to being annoying, doesn’t help move the issue forward productively. I’ve made an effort to engage my brain before my mouth, especially when my emotions run high. I think, “Will this comment be helpful?” before I spit out the first thing that leaps to mind.

Another participant in the training endorsed the book, “How to Say it at Work” as a helpful resource. Another way to boost your communication capability is to ask a friend or colleague who does well in your area of struggle. Seek their input and regular feedback.

Perhaps the hardest part of healing the communication achilles heel is fully owning that it’s a problem. I used to think my sarcasm wasn’t that bad because it was so clever and witty. (I know. What a doofus.) Thanks to my teammates’ feedback, some soul searching and a bit of focus, I’m a mostly reformed smarty pants.


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Photo from Dollar Photo Club.