Take out the Trash

I said, “Take out the Trash!”

I was innocently and intently watching television one day when my concentration was suddenly interrupted by a loud command from my wife. “I said, ‘Take out the trash!’”

I was startled for two reasons. First, my normally good-natured wife rarely uses that tone of voice. Second, I couldn’t recall any earlier notice that would have signaled the vital importance of this chore.

Since no such communication came to mind, I wanted to know if I’d missed a much more pleasant request prior to the one that was delivered so abruptly. “Did I miss a ‘Honey, please take out the trash’?” I asked.

“No,” she laughed, “I’m just in a hurry to get things done and I was afraid that you’d just put it off if I asked nicely, so I went straight to what would get your attention. Why waste time?” Why, indeed.

When I conducted my survey to determine why board members don’t do what they’re supposed to do, poor communication was identified as a top reason they don’t perform as expected.

How are you communicating requests for needed action to your board members? Are you asking, or are you telling?

They are, after all, volunteers. Communication that is perceived as a demand will not be received in a positive way, especially by those who are giving their time freely.

Showing politeness and respect will get much better results. “Please” and “Thank you” still work.

A blunt and more direct communication delivery might be simpler, but may be hurting you, and, in fact, having the opposite effect of what you intend.

Positive communication is the basis for good relationships. If your communications style is creating a negative experience for your board members, what type of relationship are you building with those whose performance you are depending on?

Taking out the trash was a necessity, but I would have felt better about doing it if I had just been asked nicely!


If you’d like more insight on effective communication practices and how to implement them with your board, check out these blog articles:


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