Objectives-Based Communication – Are you good at it?

24 Apr
by Bridget DiCello

What do you really want to accomplish?

Earlier this week, I was told, “No!” when I made a request for an exception to a leader a group of which I am a part, through his conflict-avoiding right hand person. And there was no reason for him to say no.

So, I asked politely to speak directly with him. The conversation that followed required my patience and persistent focus on my objective. It started with:

Me: “I’m not sure if your assistant has shared all the details of my situation with you.”

Leader: “Doesn’t matter, I won’t do what you asked.”

However, as I proceeded to offer the additional information, piece by piece, and let him process, fight it, and say no, I could hear him starting to soften, as he more fully understood my situation. I was very careful not to tell him that the protests he presented were not good reasons to say no.

In response to each of us, “I can’t because…” I moved on to the next point, knowing he was also hearing how his protests were relatively weak. I let go of my frustration with him and desire to have him admit he was wrong, and stayed laser focused on my objective: Get the Yes. And, finally, I did.

What are the key components of Objectives-Based Communication?

1. Be extremely clear about your objective and be okay with accomplishing only that.
2. Avoid being selfish about anything other than that objective you are focused on. Let go of things like:
a. Having someone admit they are wrong
b. Finding out why they did/are doing or saying what they did/are doing or saying
3. Have a clear list in your head of the reasons for doing it your way and present them systematically and patiently. Listen to their response in order to understand them better. Being understood often helps people to soften their stance.
4. Empathize with the person separate from the impact they are having on you. A person with power can appear to have little sympathy for your position, but that may not be the case. In my situation, he was frustrated and didn’t want to disrupt his schedule.
5. Answer their questions unemotionally and factually, without sarcasm.
Leader: “When did you find out about this?”
Me: “Yesterday.”

Conversations feel successful to different people for different reasons. However, when you have clear objectives, put your emotions aside and stay focused on that objective.

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