When you communicate, what is your goal? Have you ever thought about that before? My guess is most of the time any one of us sets out to communicate it is based on the goal of successfully transferring information. Not a bad goal, however, could this be why most information has a challenging time making the transfer successfully?
Stay with me! Consider this scenario. Last week, I needed to leave work early in order to teach a class (Practical Communication Strategies, by the way!). When my employer came rushing in the door to take over with the boys, his first words were, "What do I need to know about dinner?" It stopped me short. I know his need to know this was valid, however, if we were just exchanging information about how to get dinner on the table, dinner might not get on the table and this is why.
When we exchange information without connecting first, we are always in danger of the information never transferring because we have a very basic core desire to connect with one another. That connection gives a purpose for the transfer of information.
I responded, "I will tell you about dinner in a minute. Why don't you take a moment with the boys and to get changed. I have plenty of time." Immediately he visibly relaxed, actually took a deep breath, and thanked me. Five minutes later, he was back downstairs to hear a bit about our day and what needed to be done with dinner and we all said good-bye FEELING CONNECTED!!!
Could I have answered his question about dinner and walked out the door? Yes, that is an acceptable response. However, it only took 30 seconds to put connection first and I think that bit of connection, no matter how small, builds into a larger foundation that makes relationship and connection first and transfer of information secondary. And, when we make relationship and connection first, we are much more likely to hear and absorb the transfer of information because our need for belonging and purpose and worth are being met through the connection.
The other bonus of connecting first is we never know how much light and love that connection could bring into someone's day. If we intentionally put connection first, all of a sudden we open the possibility that we might change the course of our barista's day or the Target clerk's day or our child's teacher's day. We never lose when we connect first!