We engage in thousands of communications daily across a myriad of devices, in a multitude of situations. Most communication occurs without thought.
Communication is so common it is easy to overlook. That creates problems.
Problems we don’t see.
Yet we sense an underlying problem with communication.
For longer than the two decades I’ve paid attention, survey after survey reports ‘communication’ as a top concern in organizations. People don’t feel informed. Their voices aren’t heard. Confusion and frustration abound.
We’re told to ‘over-communicate’ as a solution. We learn presentation ‘tips and tricks.’
This just creates more problems.
Why are we communicating anyway? (Hint: more than just hearing our own voices)
We communicate to change the way people think, feel, or act. Here are five key categories and reasons we communicate:
- To persuade or influence (often without authority)
- To inform people of information we consider important
- To seek understanding, clarity, or confirmation
- As an expression of value — part of our human need to value others and feel valued
- To support change
Too often, what we expect from our communication does not match our experience — for both communicators and audiences. Despite the best of intentions, efforts to communicate so people understand fall short.
It is a frustrating experience for everyone involved. Especially when we’re trying to achieve an outcome (like one of the five listed above).
What we don’t see happening is a bigger problem.
The gap between expectation and experience creates friction in communication, process, and technology.
Friction is a big problem.
Friction erodes value and destroys trust
As friction builds, progress slows, projects grind to a halt, and people burn out. Everything gets more complex, takes longer, and costs more.
We’re often thrown into a painful loop of combating friction with more friction-causing approaches.
How do we break the cycle?
It’s hard to diagnose and solve problems we don’t see. Even harder when we don’t know where to look.
Friction is like that.
We don’t even notice friction until it’s too late. As an upside, once you learn to spot friction, you tend to see it everywhere. Until that happens, we instinctively understand the need for better communication and overlook friction.
We crave a different communication experience. We want less friction, better results.
We want people to give us Straight Talk.
What does it mean to engage in Straight Talk?
In school, we learn that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In life, the shortest distance between two people is Straight Talk.
Straight talk is honesty with empathy. Connection with context. Direct, plain, and focused on value.
By translating value into understanding, Straight Talk offers the clarity of focus and priority necessary for directed action.
We understand Straight Talk. It feels good.
What makes Straight Talk different?
Knowing what to say is harder than knowing how to say it
Most people focus on how they’re going to present before they focus on what they’re going to say. It’s completely backward, and it shows.
Knowing what to say is hard.
Translating the value of what you want to say into understanding is harder.
The solution to knowing what to say is structure. Structure reveals substance. Structure is also the antidote to friction.
Straight Talk works because it offers the structure to identify, actualize, and articulate value. Value connects our audience to our desired result.
Straight Talk is not something people are born with. Each of us can offer and experience Straight Talk. That’s because of the Straight Talk Framework.
The power of Straight Talk lies in the framework
The Straight Talk Framework organizes experience, orders thinking, and guides directed action.
Straight Talk works for individuals and teams — primary, cross-functional, and even ad-hoc. It works for children and families (I know this because we use it at home).
Straight Talk is a framework, not a formula.
There is no single “right way” to do things. Transparency and structure encourages individualized systems and methods. Straight Talk allows people to contribute their unique value in cooperation instead of competition.
What we can do when we work together is remarkable.
Solve complex, otherwise intractable problems with the Straight Talk Framework
The underlying challenge of solving problems is communication. More specifically, the friction in communication that creates complexity while eroding the value of solving the problem. More friction takes a predictable toll on people and then the whole situation is a hot mess.
Straight Talk gives people a consistent and predictable way to cut through the confusion and unpack complexity. We can blend multiple systems and perspectives without getting overwhelmed. The result is a more complete picture that reveals how to break the problem into actionable steps.
The Straight Talk Framework is a powerful tool for leaders to:
- Build and guide high-performance teams
- Command time by successfully handle incoming demands with a graceful decline, artful redirect, or appropriate acceptance
- Turn delegation into a superpower
The journey to Straight Talk starts with the first step
Straight Talk is guided and developed by the Straight Talk Framework. It’s intended to be simple enough to be flexible and powerful. Often simple is not easy.
The good news is the first steps on the journey to straight talk are easy. Start where you are with what you already know. Set your intention, act, and reflect.
Then take the best next step.