In a discussion, NLs often jump right in with the myriad of thoughts in their mind without first organizing those thoughts and stating the intent. They make an assumption that the listener understands what they are talking about. Instead, the listener may be confused or frustrated trying to follow the stream of thought.
Andy was a creative problem solver and eager to share his ideas and excitement with his manager just after they had come to mind. He would go to his manager and ask if she had a few minutes then pour out all his thoughts enthusiastically and randomly, as NLs often do. This frequently left the manager somewhat perplexed about the purpose for the conversation, the expected outcome and what actions were needed.
Once Andy learned about the Preamble he immediately saw it would improve the way he shared his ideas with his manager. Just days later he put it to use. He rushed into his manager’s office with a great deal of excitement, as usual. However, this time he first stated his intent – a way to improve the workflow between his team and a large customer. It entailed reassigning work, changing team work hours and different software. Then he launched into the design details with his usual enthusiasm. His manager liked the idea, gave her approval and Andy got into action.
Although a Preamble is not a new concept it can be used by NLs to set the stage for what they are about to say. It is especially useful at the beginning of a conversation when there may be a variety of thinking styles and communication needs. Here’s what to do to frame the context so that everyone understands:
- State the PURPOSE briefly.
- Give the BASIC underlying facts.
- Provide the expected OUTCOME, the ACTION to be taken or the SCOPE of the project.