“You’re communicating well but don’t yell at me. It freaks me out. Ok?”
This was a quote from one of the contestants on the current season of Master Chef. The home cooks were doing a tag team cooking challenge. The contestant, Dan, was paired with Tanorria, a decidedly better cook who knew what needed to be done.
When my wife, who is an HR professional, and I heard this phrase, we stopped playback to briefly talk about what he said.
This phrase is a model of excellent communication. Let’s deconstruct it.
“You’re communicating well”
Positive feedback is a great way to keep the other person from getting defensive. As does recognizing the value of the effort the other person is trying to provide. In this case, Dan’s acknowledging the effectiveness of her communication said two things at once: I hear what you’re saying, and you’re saying it well.
“but don’t yell at me.”
The word “but” is a universal negator. Everything that you said before it may be diminished. (Trying saying “I love you but” to your significant other and watch their eyebrows.) In this case, it’s a partial negation of Tanorria’s communication style. While defensiveness may kick in when you negate a prior statement, a quick shot of context can be helpful. Dan made a request for her to adjust her style.
“It freaks me out.”
Context is important when you want someone to understand why you’re pushing back on something they are doing, even if you largely agree with their approach. In this case, Dan provided additional information on how he works. He let Tanorria know that his wiring doesn’t process yelling in a positive way. The unsaid but understood message is that we’ll both lose what we hope to gain because I’ll be unable to process the good information you’re providing.
This is such an effective word. These two letters have the benefit of earning an affirmative response in a decidedly casual manner. It gets the same benefits of “yes” without having to get the other person to say the word. It’s hard not to agree to it when you hear it. The natural response, when the request is even moderately palatable, is “sure.”
There are examples of great communication happening around us all the time. As a manager, teaching your team how to communicate effectively with each other, clients and management is a key duty. When possible, find examples like this to show how good communication makes everyone work together well in reality, not just reality TV.