When it comes to verbalizing what you want, there are three ways of delivering a message, just like there are three ways of delivering a package. I’d like to show you what they are if that’s OK?
It is? Good. Let’s start with the two most popular ways of delivering a package.
The first is to bust down the door and shove the package at them. I call this the home invasion method.
Here’s an example of how to deliver a message using the home invasion method. Picture a dinner party in which someone just blew their nose at the table.
“Eeew, gross! Go blow your nose somewhere else!”
You said what you needed to say clearly and directly. There’s no mistaking what you want. You were honest, brutally honest. This can be a risky method if the person you’re delivering the message to takes offense, and he might because you caused him to lose face. The nose blower can’t say that he didn’t know how you felt. However, it puts him on the spot. A line is drawn in the sand. There’s an obvious confrontation. The home invasion method can be effective; but, depending on the sensitivities of the nose blower, it could cost you the relationship. For that reason, many people prefer another method.
You can leave the package on the step, ring the bell, and run away. I call this the slip and run method.
Here’s a way of delivering a message at that same dinner party, following the nose blow, utilizing slip and run.
“Did you hear a moose?”
This way, you’re subtle. You didn’t come right out and say what you wanted; you alluded to it, hoping they’ll get the hint. You made a joke of it and pretended it’s no big deal.
When you use slip and run, it’s easy for the nose blower to miss the point or not even know you were referring to him. He may understand his nose blowing is loud but may not know it’s disgusting. He may go on making moose noises, thinking it’s amusing. The nose blower might be embarrassed if he realizes he’s being compared to a moose, but he’s unlikely to feel put upon. He can easily save face. The slip and run approach is a light touch. It’s easy to laugh it off if it results in a confrontation, but it’s unlikely to be effective.
You probably have an approach that you favor. If you’re a home invasion kind of guy, you often get results, but people may perceive you as pushy, a bully, a whiner, a type A personality, or a bitch. The results may not be worth the costs you accrue.
The slip and run person is a lot more fun to be with. Some will say you’re easy going, but others will say you’re passive-aggressive, the sneaky kind who never says how he feels. Therefore, you not only get fewer results, you may also earn their contempt.
Maybe you’re the kind who tries slip and run a few times. If it works, great. When it doesn’t, you have a choice. You either try another slip and run approach, go to home invasion, or give up on the whole thing. What you don’t get to do is pout that no one is listening. You haven’t really tried to communicate in a clear fashion, so you can’t blame people if they don’t know what you’re trying to say.
It’s more difficult to try a home invasion first and change approaches if it doesn’t go well. Once you use home invasion, you’re committed.
There’s a third method of delivering a package that ensures they’ll get it and minimizes the chance of conflict. Ring the bell, wait for someone to come to the door, ask if you can give them a package, and get a receipt before you leave.
How do you use this method when you’re delivering a message? Ask if you can tell them something. If they say yes, then tell them, respectfully. When you’re done, make sure they understood what you were trying to say.
This is how it sounds at the dinner party.
“Excuse me,” you say, taking the nose blower aside. “Can I talk to you about something that’s bothering me?” Then, after getting permission, “When you blow your nose at the dinner table, I lose my appetite. Could you please go to the other room when you need to do that?”
“I’m sorry,” they say. “I’ll be more discreet next time.” That’s your receipt.
You see the difference between ringing the bell and conducting a home invasion? When you ring the bell, you wait for permission first. When you conduct a home invasion, you just tell people what to do. Now that you see the difference, maybe you’ll ask permission before speaking your mind.
You see the difference between slip and run, and handing your message over and getting a receipt? When you leave a package on the step and run away, you’re leaving your delivery entirely up to chance. When you ask if you can tell them something, you know they’ll be listening. When you hand over the package and wait for a receipt, you have proof the package is delivered. When you make sure they understood what you were trying to say, you know the message has been received.
Of the three ways of delivering a message, which method would you chose? Personally, I like slip and run for minor issues because I don’t like to create conflict over something that doesn’t matter very much. I also think it’s amusing to see how creative I can be. For real concerns, I ring the bell, wait for someone to come to the door, ask if I can give them a message, and get a receipt before I leave. However, there are some cases in which I must conduct a home invasion, like when there’s no time to waste. The other day I was riding in a car with someone, and a deer stepped into the road that the driver didn’t see. I yelled watch out without ringing the bell.
The point is to have all three methods at your disposal and to be equally versed in every one, so you can have them all to choose from and use the best method for any circumstance.
Now, before I go, tell me what you learned.
You see what I just did there? This whole article used the method of ringing the bell, waiting for you to come to the door, asking if I can give you a message, and getting a receipt before I leave.