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The Low and High Roads of Communications


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If you’ve ever felt abused, insulted, angry, drained and resentful, you may have experienced the “low road” of a communication interaction. Do you have the tools to analyze and understand what happened and how the situation could have been prevented? Is it possible that you may unconsciously create “low road” outcomes for others? By shedding light on the “low road” we become more aware of how intentions and methods impact upon people on the receiving end. Better and more fulfilling outcomes occur when focusing upon win-win “high road” personal and business communications.

Two simple questions and examples help you know the differences between “low road” and “high road” communications.

1. What was/is the purpose of the communication?

Low Road: People on the “transmitting end” seek power and control over others for self-interests or “emotional juice” for self-gratification. People on the “receiving end” experience loss of time, trust, motivation, self-esteem, physical property, money and reputation.

High Road: People on the “transmitting” and “receiving” end receive positive outcomes including understanding one another, building trust and relationships, gaining consensus and agreement, learning and teaching, sharing points-of-view, providing information, giving instructions and directions, making decisions and solving problems.

2. How was/is the communication delivered?

Low Road: The communication methods are manipulative and/or highly authoritarian with a tone that threatens punishment if one does not accept or comply with the demands and requirements. Litmus tests for “low road” communications include self-interests versus couple or group interests. Look for the ratio of “telling” versus “asking” for input and support. If the communication looks bad, feels bad and sounds bad, it’s probably a “low road” communication.

High Road: The contrast is dramatically different from the “low road.” You feel engaged and a part of the situation and solution. There are positive outcomes for all parties where no one gets hurt or compromises their values. If it’s a career situation, you can see the importance of what may be required of you for the benefit of the company’s positive sustainability. There is always a sense of fairness, equity and respect for all parties on a one-on-one or group basis. You feel respected and trust is built as a result of the communication. Relationships always get stronger on the “high road.”

The “low road” is characterized by attacking and defending positions, getting your way at the expense of others with one sided or lopsided outcomes. “High road” communications result in no one gaining something at the expense of another. The best outcome is positive outcomes for all parties. “High road” outcomes result when well-meaning people with integrity pause and think about the purposes and methods of their communications. “High road” communications result in personal relationships characterized by harmony, growth, trust and respect; business outcomes also include high employee engagement, productivity and loyalty.

It’s essential in personal and business relationships to communicate on each others’ sensory and cognitive thinking “wavelengths.” This builds rapport and saves valuable time.

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Are you experiencing strained and difficult communications with a family member, co-worker or friend? Feeling misunderstood and unappreciated are tell-tale signs of a deteriorating relationship. Your difficulties may be due to big gaps in the ways you both communicate. Your Brain PathWays report gives you what you need to know and do to get on other peoples “wavelength.” You can repair, rebuild and improve important relationships now with powerful practical neuroscience communication tools for exceptional rapport. Click to purchase your Brain PathWays online self-assessment and download your report today.

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One comment on “The Low and High Roads of Communications

  1. Stuart Steele
    December 22, 2010

    I loved the communication comparison’s in this article. I have seen both products of this issue and could relate my own dark side and light side example’s very easily. Truly a remarkable job communicating this. May the both of you have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as well!

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