One day I was working with a couple and while the husband was talking, his wife interrupted him several times. After about the third time he turned to her and said, “Would you shut up and let me speak!” She immediately became angry. He attempted to continue until I stopped him. “Tom” I said. “You have a great message but a horrible delivery”. He got quiet and asked what I meant. I explained that his message was great: don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking. His delivery (“Would you shut up…”) however, left a lot to be desired. In fact, his delivery was so bad that the message got lost in it. Now the issue became about him instead of about his wife’s interruptions; obviously of no benefit to him…or the couple.
In this couple, like many couples, each partner needs to learn to say a message in such a way that it can be heard. It is in the speaker’s best interest to speak “clean”. Speaking clean means you are respectful, you speak from the heart, and you speak from a position of equality not judgment. This is not easy to do when you are angry, however it is necessary if you actually want to be heard. If you do not speak “clean” you increase your partner’s chances of becoming defensive or angry and although you may have had a great message, it does you no good if it gets lost in the delivery.
Tips to delivering a great message:
1. Before speaking get clear on what your message is.
2. Commit to speaking this message respectfully, from a place of equality and with an open heart…speak it “clean”.
3. If there is a request you would like to make – make it. Don’t just complain.
4. If there is a limit you need to set – set it… then follow through.
In closing, always remember: Don’t let a great message get lost in the delivery!
Challenge: If you are upset about something someone is doing, get clear on what you would like your message to be to that person. After you are clear, commit to delivering that message in a “clean” way. Note any changes in how you feel and/or if the other person responds differently as a result of this shift.