Good Communication Works at Home Too!

We deliver management communication programs in all kinds of organizations, but sometimes we get to see how the basic principles work in our personal lives too. We have a friend, I’ll call her Celia, who attended one of those programs, and sent an email saying: “Hey! This stuff works at home too!”

Celia said she was having trouble handling her own interests and commitments because her husband and two teenage boys were creating so many seemingly unnecessary interruptions in her daily life. So here’s how she described her solution:

“I got out my old notebook from your class, and realized that the first problem was that nobody seemed to be really clear on their agreements for tasks and communications and schedules here at home. Then I noticed that instead of keeping track of household and homework agreements and following up with people, I was relying on everyone’s “good will” to stay on track. That didn’t work. So I followed your 5 rules, as follows:

  1. Be clear on your requests, get good promises, and make sure they are clear & completely stated. A request + a promise = an agreement. (Wow, I really fell down on this one, but now I’ve got good agreements with all 3 people!)
  2. Make sure the agreements are recorded – plus it’s always good to keep them visible. (This is really working – I have them spelled out on a poster-sticky by the back door)
  3. Be sure you and other people put the time to perform the work for each agreement into your/their schedule. The “law of accomplishment” says everything needs to happen in time, so use your calendars. (I totally left this out. Guess what: people don’t remember!)
  4. Track what happens – when agreements are kept and when they aren’t. (This is easy now – thanks!)
  5. Follow up on each agreement, yours and theirs. Was it kept? If so, applause. If not, what is the cost or consequence caused by that failure? How will it be cleaned up? Have the closure conversations you need. (OMG, this is so much simpler now, and life-changing for my household. Yay!)

“Thank you so much. Please, the next time you give this program, tell people it works at home too!”

I’m leading a program again in 2 weeks – I’ve got a post-it reminding me to tell people that.

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