The Quickest Way to Enhance Any Communication You’re Having

Posted on by in Business, Communication, Entreprenuership, Leadership, Managing Talent, Relationships, Remarkability, Writing

If you could find one idea or technique that could quickly and “almost miraculously” transform any communication you’re engaged in–from speaking at a community event to leading a team training or meeting to talking with a loved one to writing a letter or blog post–what would that be worth to you?

Or if you could avoid the pain of missed communication–from frustration and conflict to lost opportunities and sales. Or if you could avoid doing or saying something that might injure a key relationship–what would that be worth to you? I’m guessing a lot. Well, get ready because you’re about to get that one idea/technique–and it won’t cost you a thing.

I learned this idea/technique from a minister and author from England named John Stott. In his classic book on pastoral communication (also known as preaching :-), Stott introduced a concept he calls quadruple thinking–and it’s brilliant! The basic idea is this. It occurs in four parts (hence the phrase, quadruple thinking).

1.    You think of what you want to say
2.    You think of how the person you’re communicating to will hear what you have to say
3.    You rethink what you have to say
4.    So they will hear what you want them to hear.

Brilliant! In other words, if you or I want to be more effective communicators (and as a leader of a small or medium-sized business or organization you ought to want to be), then

We don’t have the luxury of ever just saying what we want to say.

Why? Because communication always involves two (or more) people. And that means that the other person must ALWAYS be factored into the equation.

For example: You’re in a rush and under a lot of pressure. You call in one of your employees and say, “Here’s an assignment, just make it happen.” You don’t have a lot of time to spell out what you want done–after all, they’re an adult, they can figure it out. And furthermore, you don’t want to be known as a micro-manager. So you just hand out an assignment. Unfortunately, the person you handed that assignment to is, in Myers-Briggs language, an SJ.

SJs are great workers. They make up roughly 40% of the population. They follow assignments. They get things done. BUT ONE THING that SJs don’t do well is create from scratch. SJs like to do things right. However, if they don’t know what right is, they get stumped–which is why SJs LOVE DIRECTIONS. They like their leaders to spell out details.

So while you may think you communicated clearly to your employee, the reality is you didn’t. If, on the other hand, you were employing quadruple thinking, you might have thought. “Let’s see, Barb is an SJ. As an SJ, Barb is going to want lots of direction on this assignment. So, I better clear out 15 minutes to talk with her about this assignment today.”

On the other hand, if Bob is an NT (in Myers Briggs language–and NTs don’t like lots of direction) then your quadruple thinking conversation might go like this. “Let’s see, Bob is an NT. NTs hate to be straight-jacketed with lots of direction and control so I better just walk by Bob’s desk and give him this assignment and a due date.”

Remember, the goal of communication isn’t simply to process sounds out of our minds into words on paper, screen or air. The goal of communication is to connect with another human being for a specific result or reason. Therefore, they must always be factored into the conversation.

Now, in one sense, this seems so blatantly obvious, that it shouldn’t have to be stated. But it’s not. Common sense is not common practice. Every day in every workplace (or home), miscommunication takes place. And while neither you nor I can’t completely eliminate it, we can greatly reduce it by practicing this one simple technique: Quadruple Thinking!

1.    You think of what you want to say
2.    You think of how the person you’re communicating to will hear what you have to say
3.    You rethink what you have to say
4.    So they will hear what you want them to hear.

Go ahead, give it a try! If you really get it, this should change every conversation and communication you ever have from this day forward–that is, if you want to be an effective leader and communicator.

To your accelerated success!

P.S. Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments section below!

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4 Responses to “The Quickest Way to Enhance Any Communication You’re Having”

  1. Skip Weisman 26 February 2010 at 8:50 am #

    Interesting article and concept. It struck me at just the right time as I’ve been writing a lot about organizational communication and leadership. I’ve been harping on business leaders to watch their communication for “specificity.” I’m just wondering, based on the tapping study, whether leaders can actually “think of how the person will hear what they have to say” and do it in a way that allows them to add specificity or adjusts the style, tone, details, etc. accordingly or if they will just stay stuck in a loop of thinking since it would be tough to have the perspective of non knowing what they know.

    I think that second step needs to come with a more direct and focused question to shift the communicators thinking, something like, “if I didn’t know what I know about this topic/task what is most important that someone would need to tell me so that I can feel comfortable moving forward?” (just off the top of my head).

    I’m getting ready to release a White Paper you and some of your subscribers might be interested in titled “The 5 Leadership Mistakes That Kill Organizational Communication, Employee Morale & Productivity.” Just email me and I’ll make sure they get a free copy of it.

    Great article, though, you got me thinking early on this snowy morning int he Northeast.

  2. STEVE SJOGREN 26 February 2010 at 12:38 pm #


    Love this idea. Having a knowledge of the Meyers-Briggs helps in understanding SJs and NTs.

    Realized as I read this that I have frustrated many people over the years because I treated them like an NT (me) when they were dying for details about the job at hand. Very helpful.

    ServeCoach is growing – not as fast as I would like but it is picking up steam. Learning a lot. This could be something pretty cool as God blesses.


  3. Bruce Johnson 26 February 2010 at 2:40 pm #


    As always, great honesty!! I’m in the same camp as you (which is why this was an easy illustration to “come up with” :-).

    Glad to hear ServeCoach is growing!

  4. Bruce Johnson 26 February 2010 at 2:50 pm #


    Thanks! Hope you’re enjoying the snow! Just northwest of DC, we got 58 inches in eight days (which is massive since DC has averaged 9 inches per year for the past four years!).

    As for specificity I concur–based on what level of specificity an individual employee needs. As an NT, all I would want from a manager (if I was an employee) would be very minimal. The project. Any major expectations. Resources being provided. Date due. Any more specificity and I would probably allow my old NY sarcasm to enter into the conversation :-).

    As for the second question, I’m not sure it’s possible for most people to do that. My gut and experience would suggest that the key to thinking like a newbie is to hang with newbies (it’s like talking with customers and finding out what they really want, not what I think they want).

    Enjoy the snow!

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