Follow these five quick steps to ensure that you get your point across without pain:

  1. Know the outcome/result you want from this communication.  This is the framework you want the listener to think in and it sets the tone for how you will phrase questions and present your ideas.  This tells the other person exactly what you want from them and what they need to focus on during your discussion.  Are you looking for an answer? Ideas? For them to buy?  Think deeper.   In a memo, this should be your headline.  90% of all people I work with never stop to think about what they really want from a discussion, they just assume the other person will think the same way they do.
  2. Think about what objections or concerns others might have and address those upfront.  You had better address these upfront.  Trying to ignore them or breeze over them causes the other person to think, “yeah, but…” and you never get 100% of their attention.  On top of that, their energy gets spent on refuting what you are saying instead of on helping you discover solutions.  If you don’t shatter those objections you will not shatter their resistance.
  3. State the bottom line and address the concerns/objections you think might come up.  What is the outcome you want?  Give it straight out. This again helps them focus their attention.
  4. Give supporting data/facts.  You need to be able to support what you are saying with the whys.
  5. Summary/call to action.  Rephrase your original question and drive toward the outcome desired.

Take Action:  Try these steps next time you have to present an idea or thought to someone.  They also work great when you have to deal with a difficult situation or troublesome person since it gets you both on the same page.  You don’t have to put on your combat gear to get your idea across and you don’t have to be agreeable to everyone.  You do have to state your thoughts and ideas in a nonjudgmental manner so others put their armor down and you focus on the outcome. Remember, it is what you say AND how you say it that counts!