"I'm sick and tired of HR's red tape. I need this employee now, not next month. My department suffers while you drag your feet trying to get references I don't need. I want THIS person. Get off the stick and make it happen!"

OK! Jack's trying to communicate an important need. What's his likelihood of being heard? You're right if you said "not so great." Unless the HR rep herself is a skilled communicator, this conversation is likely to go downhill fast.

After reading my article on purposeful communication, called "We Have to Talk", a subscriber asked if I could give an example of a conversation using the 4-step model I described. The four steps are Inquiry, Acknowledgment, Advocacy, and Problem-Solving.

So what might the HR rep, Jill, say if she were able to stay in charge of herself, her purpose, and her emotional energy in the face of Jack's verbal attack? Let's try one possible scenario:

JILL: Jack, I will certainly do my best. You obviously like this person and want them on your payroll as soon as possible. (Acknowledgment)

JACK: That's it. Absolutely.

JILL: Do you have all the references you need? (Inquiry)

JACK: I have plenty. I'll show them to you if you like.

JILL: Great. Is there anything else I should know? (Inquiry)

JACK: Just get the job done, Jill. I can't wait around for this to happen.

JILL: Jack, I get how important this is to you and your department (Acknowledgment). And our company requires due diligence in hiring new employees. This process protects you, me, the company and the employee, and if I don't do what I'm supposed to, it could come back to haunt all of us. (Advocacy; Mutual Purpose). I will get to work on this immediately. That, I promise. And I'll follow up with an email at every stage of the process. How does this sound? (Problem-solving)

JACK: I want this guy now.

JILL: What would you have me do, Jack? (Inquiry; Problem-solving)

JACK: I don't know... If you can promise me you'll start right away and stay in touch at every opportunity, I guess that's all I can expect. But if you don't, I swear I'll be on the phone to you.

JILL: Fine; and I'll answer. Jack, I hope the next time you need something from HR you'll feel you can just ask. It doesn't help to start off our conversations as if we were opponents in a contest. I'm trying to accomplish the same things you are, and I'll do whatever I can to support you and your department. (Advocacy; Mutual Purpose) Okay?

JACK: Okay. Thanks, Jill.

If you want to read what the conversation might look like if Jack had started the conversation using the 4-step model, read "Purposeful Communication: A Role Play," which you will find under "Free Articles" at www.judyringer.com.

Whether sender or receiver, your power will always derive from the clarity and positive intention you bring to your communication challenges. Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict (www.unlikelyteachersbook.com) and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the founder of Power & Presence Training and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit www.JudyRinger.com