(image credit: The Forum; Area Voices)
Giving up something you love is always hard.
Whether it’s something tangible such as a car, or a home, or something intangible like a relationship, or a career you love; sacrifice is always difficult.
So when my wife and I first started talking about moving from the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul to Fargo, we prepared ourselves for an emotional engagement, as this would be hard.
We experienced a perpetual wave of sadness as we moved, but the decision to pursue a change, the packing, and moving itself wasn’t the toughest part.
The struggle is simple to fix.
Two things that can erode any relationship are unmet expectations and poor communication.
So when my family and I began exploring our monumental move to Fargo, we started the process by reaching out to and communicating with all the companies that we’d need to engage as a part of our transition.
We started with the logical approach.
We began by communicating with a local bank in Fargo to get a mortgage lined-up, then a real estate office in Lakeville, in order to list and sell our home.
We then spent time talking with a home builder in the Fargo-Moorhead area and alerted all the service-based businesses that charged us monthly fees for services rendered like our mail carrier, the garbage collector, and the broadband provider.
Of all the businesses we had to interface with, the most important one was the most frustrating.
Our greatest source of stress was dealing with the title and closing company.
(I’m not going to name the title and closing company in a public blog because it’s super inappropriate. It doesn’t matter who the company was, rather how it was resolved)
From a missed deadlines, incorrect instruction, to a lack of clear direction, it was all a bit disappointing. Despite the stress, we persevered, and ultimately it all worked out.
As you can see in our moving escapades to Fargo, taping boxes and lifting totes was the simplest part. It was communication with other companies that ultimately gave me gray hairs.
Inspired by our trials, I’ve created a list of three ‘must-haves’ as a part of effective communication that anyone can use in order to avoid typical moving blunders.
Effective communication must be H.O.T.
In order to create a positive communication climate in your personal and professional life, communication must be H.O.T.
H.O.T. stands for Honest, Open and Two-Way.
And in order to avoid verbal-judo from friends, family members, and business professionals, everyone should consider this methodology.
You must be honest. (but be kind)
When communicating effectively there isn’t a perfect method to do it right, but you need to at least be willing to put your heart on the table, be transparent, and get naked.
Get naked? Yes, naked.
In his book Getting Naked, author Patrick Lencioni talks about being completely open and honest, despite your fears.
The three fears that keep people from being vulnerable are the fear of losing a relationship, the fear of being embarrassed, and the fear of feeling inferior.
For our mortgage title and closing company, I feel they were rushed and weren’t willing to be honest by over-communicating with me and my wife because they feared looking incompetent by over-communicating.
And it was this missed expectation that caused the relationship to erode.
Let me also say that you need to be kind when communicating. For example, if your co-worker is a rude jerk, don’t call them a rude jerk, even though it may be true. Pull them aside, have a private talk and let them know that when they act a certain way, it makes you (and others) feel hurt and unappreciated.
Be kind in how you talk with and communicate into other people’s lives.
You must be open.
I feel this is the hardest part of the HOT methodology and it’s the toughest for me personally.
Being open means you need to be vulnerable. It means you must emotionally let another person in, while letting everything out. Being open means you need to not stuff your thoughts and feelings inside.
You need to open up and get everything out in your dialogue. The freedom you will experience by truly being naked as Lencioni coins it, will give you a remarkable emotional high.
Plus you’re learning through doing. This is called practice. You don’t learn new things or develop unless you actually take action through ‘doing.’
Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his NBA career, lost over 300 games, and was trusted to win the game by taking the last minute shot 26 times, while ultimately losing the game by missing those same 26 shots.
But Jordan practiced by taking shots, and missing them. Just like this metaphor, you need to practice being open and vulnerable, which takes courage to overcome the fear associated with the risk.
Be open, and keep aspiring to be open time after time so you become a better communicator.
You must have two-way dialogue.
This is easier for me, but can be harder for others. Hard because having a two-way dialogue means you need to listen.
Having two-way dialogue means listening, while not interrupting others when they are being open and honest with you. If you want to see people shut down and disengage, then don’t allow them to have a two-way dialogue with you by interjecting every time you have a thought.
Interrupting others is not a skill or a character trait to be proud of. Interrupting others is a bad and hurtful habit.
Listening, however, is an art.
It takes patience, hard work and diligence. The best listeners are often times the best communicators.
In two-way dialogue you need to be heard, and be open as well as honest, but most importantly need to listen.
The rest of the story
The title and mortgage company could have done well to follow the HOT methodology.
That being said, none of us are perfect. Often times I’m the worst of offenders when it comes to communicating inadequately. But that shouldn’t excuse bad communication.
Communicating is often the toughest part of any relationship or circumstance, so why not become a communication-ninja, and do it well?
What do you need to do in order to improve your communication? Much like my weakness, when it comes to being open and not stuffing my emotions, what are your failings and how can you improve your communication craft?