Every message has two levels

When you communicate (verbal or written) there are always two messages: The relationship message and the content message

  • 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 and your relationship as well as the content of the message
  • The content message you give is about information, tasks, details, and facts.
  • The way this message is delivered communicates a relationship With the relationshipmessage 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.
  • The interesting thing is that most people 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 bossy, demanding, abrupt, rude, attacking, bossy or confrontational
  • If you overemphasise 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.


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.