Developing Direct, Open & Honest Communication

A long-time colleague of mine and fellow Project Adventure trainer, Gary Nussbaum, shares this wonderful tool for assisting groups to manage gossip, triangular and indirect communication.

Or in other words, developing the norm of direct, open and honest communication… to agree and commit to communicating directly, respectfully and in a timely manner with the person or persons involved in an issue or behaviour.

Gary asks his group to join the A-Team:

  • Awareness – notice and become mindful of indirect communication, particularly patterns of indirect communication;
  • Appreciation – challenge yourself to finds ways of appreciating and understanding your colleagues rather than judging, blaming and/or criticizing them;
  • Apply the Brakes – initiate self-inquiry;
  • Allow – give the benefit of the doubt;
  • Authenticity – be honest and direct in communicating what is true for you while taking care to communicate that information respectfully;
  • Accountability – identify and own the goals, values, needs and preferences that are true for you as well as the feelings that arise when those goals, values, needs and preferences are unmet;
  • Assumptions – investigate and test your assumptions!


Gary asks his groups before they initiate or engage in conversation about someone, to consider applying the following filters and ask:

  • Why am I sharing this? What are my purpose and intended outcomes?
  • Is it useful? Is it helpful? Am I saying this for a constructive purpose? Does it solve a problem?
  • Is it necessary? Will it improve on the silence? Do people really need to know this?
  • Is what I am about to say coming from a place of care and respect?
  • Is it hurtful? If the person I am speaking about hears what I have said, would s/he feel hurt?
  • Is it true? How do I know it is true?


A few more words about the value of this tool…

The focus of this norm is direct, open and non-triangular communication. If someone asks for information or makes comments about an issue or person in which you are not directly involved, encourage or direct him/her to go to the appropriate person or source.

This norm includes not carrying messages between people in an attempt to ease tensions around an issue or problem. It also includes communicating constructive feedback (whether positive or negative) in a direct and in a timely manner to the persons or persons involved.

Thanks for sharing Gary, have fun!


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