The past 18 months has been a real-life case study in communication. As keen linguists we looked on watchfully. What has unfolded in the main has been quite under whelming and lead to so much confusion and challenge. Communication is also at the route of the majority of issues we encounter in the world of work. It can vary from a lack of clarity, to conflicting information, or our personal pet peeve, the non-response.
When developing your message in any format we have a Triple H Model that is really beneficial. The Triple H (Not the wrestler) are for Head, Heart and Hands. All good communication will aim to hit all three. If you miss one, you will generally dilute the impact of your message. We have evolved quite a bit since Taylorism and people being viewed as cogs in a machine to carry out tasks, with the attitude of “shur aren’t we paying them, what more do they want?” Based on this our communication needs to evolve accordingly.
Firstly let me explain each of the 3 H’s to give you a better understanding. The first H is for Head and this relates to the practical and logical side of any communication. This is for the people who want to know how something works, what is the reasoning behind the decision and how did you get there. It is a very practical and often information heavy step in the process. People like to understand this side, but as we often experience, understanding and knowing are not enough.
The second H is for Heart. This is the real emotional side of communication and it is what brings the Head aspects to life. As humans, we generally make decisions and take action far more based on emotion than understanding and logic. If you think back to any movie, book, story, presentation or individual that has had a real impact on you, it was how they made you feel that created this. Helping people understand why you are making a certain decision or pursuing a specific course of action is important. Creating a vision for how it will make them feel, even more so . One of the key questions we ask in this process is:
What emotion am I hoping to stir in my audience?
This can be anything from pride, to belonging, urgency, to precision, vulnerability, to inspiration. Once you know what impact you want this message to have on the hearts of those in front of you, the rest is straight forward. Linking the Head and Heart message in a succinct and interesting manner is where the real creative juices can flow.
The final H is for Hands. This is all about taking action. If you have explained logically what you are trying to achieve, then stirred an emotional connection in their Hearts, you will be really well placed when it comes to your call to action. What do you want them to do on the back of this? It can be washing your hands, increasing your diligence around health and safety measures, or adapting to a new system. The myriad of possible calls to action is endless.
The most common mistake we observe is that people jump straight to the final H in the sequence and just ask/tell people what they want them to do. Yes, there is a time for this, but it is quite rare. If you skip the first two H’s you will find the level of buy-in reduces drastically. There is often a lot of dissent and mumblings of.. what the fuc* are we doing that for? The other common error is skipping the Heart stage. It is the story, connection and honesty that causes people to opt-in. Finally, the last pit-fall to avoid is all Heart with no Head, or Hands. This certainly has a place and time, but just be sure that it matches with what outcome you are trying to achieve from your communication. Nelson Mandela summarised this really well
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”