To communicate effectively you need to follow two simple Communication rules:

  • Focus on the intent of the communication

  • Focus on what’s “Actionable” to achieve the intent.

All else is commentary.

There are only three “Intents” of communication?

  • Persuade – Get someone to do something they would not normally do.  The most common type of intent
  • Inform – Provide information – This is most effective when done to persuade someone to do something.  Rarely is this done simply to provide information.  But it is possible.
  • Entertain – Make someone laugh, cry, or gasp in horror or amazement. As with “informing” this is best done to persuade in some way.

Knowing which one is your intent and knowing which one is the intent of the other party(s) in the communication is fundamental to effective communication.

So based on all this, the first skill you need to master is to understand “intent.”


Skill #1 – Understanding “Intent”

The “Intent” of most communication is to get what you want.  So the more you know what you want the more likely you are to get it.

Exercise #1 – Think about every communication you’ve had and think about your Intent.  Can you clearly identify your intent?  

Exercise #2 – Think about every communication you’ve had and think about the Intent of the other person or people.  Can you clearly identify their intent?

Exercise #3 – Think about both communication you had that was effective and think about communication you had that was not effective.  Think about how much your intent and the intent of the others were in alignment.  Can you see a linkage between effective communication and shared intent?

This is an important exercise.  This exercise should be done often.  It is easy to do.  It can be done in the car on the way to work.  It can be done before you write an email or make a phone call.  It can be done in the morning before you wake up or at night before you fall asleep.

You should ask yourself what is my intent before every communication.  And you should ask yourself what is the intent of the person I am communicating with before every communication.


A key here is that you would not get what you want without knowing your “Intent.”  And another key here is that the more you know the intent of the person you are asking to do something the more likely you are to get what you want.

Think of a baby crying.  They want you to feed them, or change them, or entertain them.  Think of a guy trolling a bar, he wants you to love him or have sex with him.  Think of a Church goer sitting in the pews trying to persuade God to let them into heaven.  Or think of a sales man/women trying to get you to buy their product.  If you would get those things without asking, there is no need for communication.  But, alas, the world does not work that way.

Maslow may apply here.

Using Maslow as the foundation for understanding intent we can see that we communicate to get things like food, shelter, respect, and Security.


Communication is a Team Sport

If we lived alone we would need no communication.  But we do not live alone.  So we rely on communication to live.


that getting food and shelter are primary needs and thus we communicate to get food and shelter.  The intent of cave men and women to work in teams was to enhance their ability to get food and shelter.  Once we have food and shelter our intents change to other needs.  But, from a communication standpoint it does not matter.  What matters is that we understand our intent.

The more we understand our intent the better we can achieve that intent through communication.

  • Teaching – Teachers inform learners in entertaining ways to persuade them to accept the lessons
  • Sales – Sales men and women use information