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Communication 3: Levels of communication & how to give better feedback

In part 3 of our series on communication, you will dive into an alternative technique to provide constructive feedback and learn about the different levels of communication. To improve your communication skills you are provided with easy-to-implement techniques to swiftly and efficiently.


Transcript of the video

Welcome to the space beyond right and wrong.

In the last video we learned about the concept of non-violent communication. There is another, quite similar and somewhat simpler model: the FBI Feedback Formula. The letters FBI stand for: Feedback, Behaviour and Impact. This model of communication has proven to be particularly effective in situations that are emotionally charged - whether negative or positive. And quite honestly - you remember from the last video - we are humans and not robots. In this sense almost every situation is emotionally charged in some way. The order in which you apply the three steps is up to you. Let's start with feeling: just describe which emotions the action or words of the other person activated in you. Please be as precise and accurate as possible. Generalisations like: this makes me sad or happy, are not really helpful in this sense. More precise would be curious, self-confident, hopeful, or reticent, insecure, apathetic. Let's move on to Behaviour. Describe objectively and fact-based the specific situation that caused this feeling in you. It is very important to describe only one - really only one - specific and concrete situation and more importantly do not to use generalizations or make judgements. Last but not least Impact: tell the other person what possible consequences this behaviour can lead to in the future for you or the team or even the whole organisation, given the behaviour does not change, . My personal preference is however a different order: first I describe the behaviour, then which feelings it invokes in me and finally the possible consequences from my perspective - which is BFI. Let's just take the example from the last video. Do you remember? Johnny-come-lately arrives 15 minutes too late in a meeting. It could go something like this: last week we agreed to meet at 9:00 am and now it's 9:15 am. I find this disrespectful and feel demotivated. I am worried that my motivation and commitment to our common project will suffer. It may well happen that the other person first tries to find good excuses or belittle the issue. Then simply repeat your statement one more time and maybe even a third time.

As good as this model is for effective and constructive feedback and confrontation, it is also very suitable for giving a successful compliment and foster the strengths and abilities of the people around you. Instead of simply saying: well done - be specific and describe exactly what action has benefited you, your team or the whole organisation, what feelings this has triggered in you and what positive consequences you think can result from it. This kind of communication is both simple and effective. You strengthen the strengths of the people around you and deal constructively with confrontations. You can use this model as an alternative to non-violent communication, or you can use both techniques alternately. Simply choose whatever you feel more comfortable with.

With the two techniques from the last video, you now have a total of three concepts to create an open, constructive and solution-oriented dialogue and give constructive feedback. However, the conversation already starts before the actual conversation. We always communicate on three levels: verbal, non-verbal and transverbal. You know the first two. But what does tranverbal mean? Transverbal is so to speak the atmosphere between you and surrounding you: You come into a restaurant or a store or a company and without anyone saying or doing anything, you sense and feel whether there is a good or bad atmosphere. You can easily influence this level - the transversal communication - with techniques you already know. The way you affect other people depends very much on the physical and mental state you are in. And remember: with simple breathing techniques you can influence and balance your heart-rate-variability within a very short time and you guessed it, exactly this has a significant influence on the people around you. Many companies already benefit from starting their meetings with two to three minute mindfulness exercises. Take the time and prepare yourself briefly for your dialogue or meeting or presentation.

And if, despite all the communication techniques you now have at your disposal, a conversation does escalate, have the courage and dare to take a break. It really makes no sense from a neurological point of view to continue such a conversation, because you are simply not able to access your skills and knowledge and bring about a solution. Wait until everyone involved has cooled and calmed down and only then continue the conversation. Perhaps you might try a mindfulness exercise in between, such as the breathing technique.

And last not least: take your time. You don't have to answer every question immediately and in a dialogue you don't have to jump in immediately. I am not aware of any case in which it would have done harm to think first and then speak. A short break even has two effects: firstly, it gives the other person the feeling that he or she is really been listened to and thus shows your appreciation. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to rethink your answer or statement. Communication is highly complex and a masterpiece. You are challenged to focus 100% in three directions: 100% on what the other person says, 100% on what this evokes in you and 100% on the space between you and around you and what - so to speak - is created by both of you. So all in all we need 300% attention. Another important point in this context: there are of course numerous other communication models. But most of these models are derived from communications engineering. The technical view and its models assume that a sender sends a message to the receiver through a certain channel and the receiver then decrypts the message. The receiver then becomes the sender and the same thing happens again. Sorry ... We are humans and not machines and we don't have channels. Communication is highly complex and every communicator is always both receiver and sender at the same time. If we would have a conversation together, you can observe that while one of us is speaking, the other one is also constantly transmitting and communicating on the non-verbal and transverbal level. I say something and you - best case - laugh for example - well just maybe. So - happy talking!

Do not believe anything I say - but try it for yourself and practice the art of possibility.

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