Three Communication Tools to Use to Better Communicate

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d/th
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

Three Communication Tools to Use to Better Communicate

Communication tools come in all types and forms. We have tools within verbal and nonverbal communication, such as the basic words and body language and the means of translating, interpreting, feedback, understanding and awareness.

Then we have the written word skills and media used to carry out this writing including the technology available such as computer hardware and software, visual equipment, sound equipment in public arena, etc.

But when we encounter problems during communication, we need tools to deal with them effectively.

The following are three communication tools within the tools of communication that I use and that can be applied to any situation.

Tool # 1 -- The 1-11 Measuring Scale(c):

If 0% is bad communication, and 100% is good communicate -- on a horizontal scale of 1 to 11, we have:

1 being 0% communication (bad, negative, destructive),

6 being 50% (poor, negative/positive) and

11 being 100% (good, positive, constructive)

Draw a horizontal line on a sheet of paper and write the numbers 1 to 11 from left to right, leaving about 1" space between the numbers.

Underneath the 1 write (vertically this time, one word under each):

0%, Bad, Negative, Destructive

Under the number 6, in the same vertical manner, write:

50%, Poor, Negative/Positive

And again, under the number 11, write:

100%, Good, Positive, Constructive

Use this scale to measure present daily communication habits -- ask yourself "On a scale of 1 to 11, where do I stand as the speaker (sender) or as the listener (receiver) in a particular issue.

Use it to check specific situations you might be unsure of. When faced with a problem, ask yourself, "On a scale of 1 to 11, where does the problem of communication fall?"

This will identify the level of the problem from 0% to 100%, and the equivalent level of corrective action required. In other words, if the problem is really serious (low on the scale), then a corrective action will be required. But if it is not low and does not alert any danger, you might forfeit any action and just tolerate it -- or "get used to it".

If the problem falls halfway between 0% and 100%, ask yourself, "What would the two extremes be if it extended one way or another?" In other word how bad could it get if I don’t do something about it, or how good could it get if I got rid of this problem. Depending on the answer, is the change necessary? Is it worth the effort?

Along this line, here's another tool to use:

Tool # 2 -- The 2Xtremes analysis(c):

Often, the indecisions we face are caused because problems fall within the gray areas between black and white (negative - positive) and not at an obvious extreme.

So if you need further focus on a problem, push the situation to the black or white extreme by asking pertinent questions from these two points of view. This will identify which side holds the solution or need attention and work.

For example: "I won't get that report done on time, so what's the worst scenario that could happen?" If it's not that important, you'll be able to make a decision and move on accordingly. If it is important, then you move on to "what's the solution?"

Here is an example of looking at a problem from the 2Xtremes analysis.

Have you ever come out of a store or coffee shop and someone else attempts to enter at the same time? Who has the right of way? Looking at it from the extreme, if the store was full and could not accommodate another person, those entering would have to let people out first and then they could get in.

So, based on that, it is a pretty good rule to say that those entering a building should give way to those exiting.

Another way to look at extremes is to look at important people and ask, "What would Einstein do in this situation?" or the Prime minister... "What would Ann Landers say?" Or my father, or mother, or boss, or husband, wife, an admired peer at work, or an expert in the subject at hand -- or you may ask "What would God say?". Then, you can use that extreme to come up with a decision or solution.

Tool #3 -- The 7-Points Problem Solving(c):

Every company should have a common strategy that all employees use to solve problems. That would be part of what is called the "house rules" or the corporate communication of a company. It should be part of the first-hand orientation of a new employee.

When people are faced with a problem, everyone in the company then knows how to handle it in the same manner so that all will be able to communicate with one another in the same language and picture -- in other words "be on the same page".

The way to look at a problem is to spend 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution -- not the other way around.

With that in mind, one needs to ask and answer the following questions:

1) What is the problem? Break it down into groups of not more than 3, that you can call by one name or sentence.

2) What’s the cause of this problem? Analyze facts only. Under each Group, break them down into 3 possible causes.

3) What’s the solution? Under each possible Cause, break this down into 3 possible solutions, 1 appropriate solution for each possible cause. Choosing the most promising, decide the best one to pursue (one at a time).

4) What’s the corrective action? Again, break down into 3 actions to be taken for that expected solution.

5) Monitor the result. Break down the Action into workable deadlines, and monitor on the time frames until corrected.

6) Follow up with every affected function or department. Continue to monitor and follow-up until every concern is satisfied.

7) Change the approach if needed. Go back to step 3 again and change it. If the first solution does not give the desired result, take the 2nd most possible solution. Work through steps 4, 5 & 6 until a solution is found. If all three fail, start from step 1 again.

These are three of the most popular tools within the tools from my book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training” that I’m happy to share with you to help you improve communication./dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is owner/manager of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

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