Four-Step Communication Process

February 26, 2020

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Four-Step Communication Process

Images Credit: Shutterstock


Good communication is foundational to success – in families, in businesses, and in communities. Bad communication can be the recipe for disaster.

One round of bad communication amongst family members or friends can damage relationships for years, decades, or even generations. The proverbial family feud can stem from one (often minor) miscommunication.

Bad communication in business can mean lost productivity or revenue. In a worse case scenario, it can bring lawsuits.

And in communities, bad communication can have disastrous consequences.

Bad communication is also one of the biggest reasons families seek therapy, companies seek consultation, and communities seek outside experts.

In other words, bad communication is costly to society!

How can you, in any of these scenarios, ensure your communications are solid and strong?

1. Understand the Team

  • “Our new co-worker is bossy. Who do they think they are?”
  • “The marketing person is way too chatty! How am I supposed to concentrate?”
  • “They can’t seem to make a decision!”
  • “He (or she) is way too picky! No matter what I do, it isn’t right!”

These common concerns are really just indicators of personality types, and those who understand these differences can begin to understand the personalities behind them.

What these actions are saying may mean the following:

  • The new co-worker likes to take charge and get things done, and they have a track record of strong results.
  • The marketing person is chatty; and it is their best tool for getting results and making connections with potential customers.
  • The indecisive one may be considering the details before making a decision – important details that could make or break an initiative.
  • The picky person may be your best ally in quality control. If a product, service, or idea can pass their muster; it is a strong contender for success.

If you understand the person, you will understand the importance of letting them be who they are in their work. Rather than trying to make them like you, what if you allowed them to be who they are? What amazing work could be accomplished?

2. Address the Issues

Very often, when you ask someone what is wrong, they will identify a symptom and not the cause. You can get the core issue by simply asking, “Why?” several times.

“My leg hurts.”


“I hurt it when I fell.”


“Because the step was loose.”

The symptom was a hurting leg.

The cause was a loose step.

There are two key points here. First of all, address the symptom by alleviating the pain. But to prevent future issues, you must fix the underlying cause – the loose step. Otherwise, the symptom will continue to recur.

In communications, the symptoms are often alleviated, while the underlying cause is not resolved. This means that, sooner or later, the symptom will show up again, seemingly out of nowhere. Resolving the issue at the core stops the cycle.

3. Know the Difference between Principles and Preferences

Stand firm and compromise. While this may seem to be a paradox, learning to stand firm on principles, but compromise on preferences is a powerful leadership tool.

Principles are foundational. If you violate a principle, it will sear your conscience.

Preferences, on the other hand, are adaptable. These are key negotiating tools because it allows you and the other person to find common ground and essentially create a win-win situation. This is communication at its best.

4. Allow Decision-making within Boundaries.

In just about any situation, there is also a solution. That solution can be obtained by applying the steps above and then allowing decisions to be made within certain boundaries. Boundaries are established by the end goal.

How do these four steps apply to real life and business?

Let’s say the end goal is to sell a certain product by a certain date and to close the deal cleanly, with great customer satisfaction.

These are the boundaries and basis for decisions.

To reach this goal, you want someone to take charge and get the ball rolling. You also need those who will ensure the details are addressed. You’ll need a team to establish relationships with potential customers and create an effective marketing plan. And you’ll need a solid quality control team to ensure that the product is created with good quality and that production is on track. You will need a great sales team and a customer service team to back up the product. What may have otherwise appeared to be communication issues now surfaces as the strengths you need to reach the goal.

Where there are issues, asking, “Why?” will ensure a quality product is created by a concerted team.

Where there are differences of opinion, adhering to principles (quality, for example) and adapting on preferences will ensure that a quality product is created and sold on schedule.

Lastly, empowering your team members to make decisions based on the well-defined goals is a great way to keep the project on track and to realize success.

These four steps will help you keep communications on track and effective.

For more resources on how you can strengthen your leadership abilities and those of your team, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communications Impact Report.

As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.