There are three different kinds of communication that we use from time to time. It’s virtually impossible to stop, but we can change our ratio and spend more time in open and honest communication. At the end of this blog post, I will share a life-changing concept with you.

Type 1: Evasive Communication

Most of the communication that takes place in this category has to do with lying. There are three sub-categories of evasive communication:

  • Outright lying: When people communicate in this way, they are lying without provocation. Yet, from time to time, we all do it.
  • Defensive lying: When we are being questioned or feel threatened, sometimes, we lie to cover ourselves. We do it without much thought; it just happens.
  • Withholding information: When we withhold information, we avoid certain topics, or we refrain from responding or contributing pertinent information when someone else is talking with us.

Evasive communication is the least effective type of communication, but people occasionally use it to save time. Let’s say, for example, that a colleague comes into my office one day and asks, “How are you?” There is no good reason for me to say, “I have a headache, I think I might be getting a cold and I am grumpy.” In the interest of efficiency, I will probably just answer, “Fine,” and then get into our meeting.

This type of communication is inauthentic, and the less you use it, the better you will emotionally feel about yourself and the deeper and better connections you will have with others. Note the word “less”; it’s almost impossible to entirely stop this kind of communication.

Type 2: Conclusive Communication

In conclusive communication, we are speaking honestly but trying to direct the conversation to achieve a specific result. There are three sub-categories of conclusive communication:

  • Self-interest: When people communicate in this way, their actions show an attitude of, “I say what is on my mind without much thought about the person I am talking to.” You see this communication a lot with authoritarian leadership.
  • Defending a position or goal: In this type of communication, we are expressing our true thoughts, and we understand the purpose of the conversation and the other person’s desires and goals. However, we are not willing to truly consider them, and we want to “win” the discussion.
  • Pretending I care: In this type of communication, we are asking good questions and acting like we care about the other person’s point of view, but our real goal is to use what the other person is saying to either prove we have listened or to find ammunition to defeat his or her point of view. Our goal is to win the discussion or argument.

This style of communication is not ideal for full, creative conversations, but there are times when its limitations can lead to more efficient communication and achieve desired goals.

Type 3: Openness and Honesty

In the third type of communication, we speak openly and are not tied to a result. We are willing to allow others’ ideas and thoughts to play an equal part alongside our own. Again, there are three categories of communication within this type:

  • Not fully involved in the process of changing my mind: We listen to what the other person has to say but stop short of pulling their whole thoughts from them. We are only somewhat open to changing our minds, but we’re at least willing to listen.
  • Willingness to change my mind: We have an opinion, but we enter the conversation truly trying to understand the other person’s point of view, with a willingness to believe that he or she may be right or that a combination of our ideas may be right.
  • Clarity and openness: We enter conversations with no defined outcomes in mind and have a totally open mind. We concern ourselves not only with the statements that the other person is making but also with really understanding the other person’s underlying intent. Our goal is for the mutually best outcome.

Here is the big “AHA” for me.

A simple shift can change everything. Instead of starting with the point of view that I am right, I listen for the “kernel of truth” in what the other person is saying. I start to hear better ideas or ideas that can make my ideas better. The people I talk to feel I am listening, because I am. The best ideas come from this type of communication.