When you communicate (verbal or written) there are always two messages:

  • Every message you send and receive has a content message and a relationship message – 100 per cent of the time. Every time you communicate verbally or non-verbally you are sending a message about what you think about this person (relationship message) as well details of the message (content message). A good communicator is aware of both messages because people normally receive the relationship message first.
  • The content message you give is about information, tasks, details, and facts. For instance `I need this photocopying completed today’
  • The way this message is delivered communicates a relationship message. With the relationship message you are giving a message that communicates what you think about this person i.e. do you accept this person or not. This relationship message is communicated through your body language as well as the word you choose and the tone of your voice.
  • Those on the receiving end of the message usually receive the relationship message first, and the impact of this will determine how they receive the content of the message. So if you have asked them to do the photocopying in a brisk tone, they may well conclude that you don’t respect them and they may not receive the content of the message (do the photocopying today) in a way that bring out their best for you.
  • If you over emphasise your content message, you may be seen as clear, crisp, straight to the point but you may also be seen as abrupt, rude, attacking, or confrontational.
  • If you over emphasise the relationship message you may be seen a people person, approachable, easy going but equally you may be perceived as a pleaser, soft, or wishy-washy.

Summary In day to day life we must always recognise that we are always sending a relationship message (which is received first) as well as a content message. If having good relationships is your goal then develop a greater awareness of the relationship message you are always sending and make it a positive one. Learn powerful communication tips and more at the Courageous Conversations Course.