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July 17th, 2019

I’m an excellent communicator

Ask any group of people what needs to be improved in the workplace and the chances are that most will say communication.

Although, it’s something we all do all day long, instinctively and subconsciously. Most people will cite ‘communication’ as one of their key skills on their CV and, like driving, we all think we are good at it.

So why so many problems?

The answer lies in the fact that although we do it all the time, we rarely have the time to really think through the how and the why each time we communicate.

We have a very quick and simple tool, based on the wise words of Rudyard Kipling:

The trick is, instead of getting straight into transmit mode, you need to listen first: tune in to the situation and ask yourself these six questions.

1.      Why?

What is the outcome I am seeking here? What do I want people to do or say or feel or think as a result of my communicating with them? If you don’t know the honest answer to this question, go no further ‘til you do! This is your purpose.

2.      Who?

Which people are best placed to help you to achieve your desired outcome? How might their needs vary? This is your audience.

3.      What?

What do these people need to know in order to do or say or feel or think what you want them to? This is your content.

4.      Where?

Where in their world does what you want them to do or say or feel or think fit? What is in it for them? This is your argument.

5.      When?

At what point in the day, week, month or process will the communication have its greatest impact? This is your timing.

6.      How?

What is people’s preferred way to receive the messages you want to get over and how might your style need to be modified to ensure you are on the right wavelength? This is your medium. Beware – the answer to this question can only be addressed when you know the answer to the first six!


  1. Use the answers to these questions to help you to design and plan your communication.
  2. Remember to use your eyes and ears to gather reactions and go around the cycle again.

After all, if you have had an impact on what people do or say or feel or think, the answers will be different next time around!!

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Mike Notman is a highly experienced Change and Organisational Development specialist and has delivered significant change programmes in a wide range of larger private companies and public bodies since moving into consultancy in 1991. Having established a commercial consultancy for Leeds Metropolitan University in 1993 he went on to establish and lead two national consulting practices on behalf of major accounting firms. During the last 25 years, Mike has focused on developing organisational structures, leaders, senior teams and corporate cultures to improve efficiency and effectiveness in business and operational performance.


Bourton Group LLP the award-winning Operational Improvement Consultancy – read more about our award-winning project here.

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