Three Questions Away From a Win-Win

Ever found yourself in this situation?

You’re excited about communicating something and your passion for the topic pushes your mind to rush to speak. Your listener stares back, politely letting you run with it but clearly not engaging in what you’re saying or selling. You wrap up your points, close with a call to action, and walk away thinking you hit a home run.

But did your listener connect with your message as well as you expected or hoped?

froggyThe next time that happens try quickly asking/answering these three questions before communicating:

  1. WHAT do I need to communicate? – What is it you’re trying to say? Get clear where you can think it in one short sentence before proceeding. “I want to convince this person why the new process changes are good for them and the company.” THe WHAT is usual a simple, straight-forward answer.
  2. WHY do I need to communicate (blank)? – Get clear on your reasons for this moment, this person, this topic. The why should be from both of your perspectives. And the WHY is more difficult to answer than the WHAT.
  3. WHAT is the desired outcome from this communication? – Your call to action needs to have value to both parties or you’ll end up with just a polite listener rather than a willing engager. This WHAT needs more nuance and tact that the other two questions, but is the most important connection of the three questions.

Ask yourself, and honestly answer, these three questions before attempting to communicate and your success rate will skyrocket.


Your listener likely has a three-question script running in their mind as you talk:

  1. Why should I care?
  2. What should or must I do with this information?
  3. How this will help my life or work?

Embed the answers to these top listener concerns in your question/answer script and you’re on your way to a communication win-win.