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Running it to Ground: How to Become a Better Communicator

In my opinion, the #1 skill set to have (in your work life and your personal life)…

Is the ability to be an effective communicator.

If you improve your communication skills, you improve your chance of success in every area of life.

(Yeah — it’s that important.)

And if you want to improve your communication skills…

There is a practice I’ve found that’s really helped my businesses, my relationships and my marriage.

It’s called “Running it to Ground,” and it’s the very simple practice of dealing with stuff as it comes and not letting it build up.

Often what happens in relationships is things are left unsaid, and overtime, the emotions or frustrations you feel start to build up.

Then, one day, it becomes too much and you explode.

It puts your relationships and your business partnerships at risk, but it’s all the symptom of the same thing:

An uncommunicated (or withheld) value judgement.

Get this simple technique to become a better communicator and avoid these bad habits in this new video.


0:10 The biggest skill set a human can have is that of being an effective communicator
0:40 Don’t let things build up
2:00 It’s your responsibility to express what you feel in the moment
3:29 At the end of the day, every relationship is an ongoing communication process
4:52 Communicate your desired outcome
5:56 Handle stuff as it comes up

Click Here For Video Transcript

I want to talk about communication hygiene. I think that the single biggest skill set a human being can have is that of being an effective communicator. And if you want to improve your skill as a communicator and therefore improve the likelihood of success in any situation, which all involve relating with people over time, which is basically everything, then there’s one practice that I’d recommend that you picked up that I’ve found super effective in my business, my life, my marriage, and everything. And this practice is something I call “running it to ground.”

So it’s a fairly simple practice of not letting things build up. You see, what happens in relationship often is that things build and build and build, until one day, they become too much and one person just kind of explodes. And you see this over and over again, and it’s a symptom of the same thing. And it’s called an uncommunicated value judgment, also known as a withheld value judgment.

You see, we’re making value judgments all the time, every minute. “This is good.” “That’s bad.” “I don’t like this.” “I like that.” “I didn’t like that behavior.” “I like that thing.” And we make these judgments about other people that we’re relating with. We’re judging their behavior. We’re judging their activity. And when we withhold these value judgments from people, it creates distance.

For example, I had a friend who was recently telling me about their roommates. He’s like, “Oh, they always leave their dishes in the sink and they always leave the place messy,” and it’s like all these things are stacking up, these judgments that my friend is making about his roommates, that he’s not telling them, “Hey, clean your dishes,” or, “Hey, I don’t like how messy you are.”

And then eventually, one day, he explodes and he’s like, “You guys always do this and you’re always behaving this way,” but it is a symptom of not handling things in the moment. And it’s the same thing in relationship. It’s the same thing in business partnership. If you are making judgments about someone’s behavior and not telling them about them, that is an active aggression. That is an action against the relationship. It’s your responsibility to express what you feel in the moment and not let it build.

You see, the thing about a value judgment is it carries either positive charge or negative charge. So if you feel positively about someone’s behavior and you don’t tell them, that’s okay. Hey, you felt good about it and you didn’t tell them or you did tell them. That’s an acknowledgment of how good they are. But if you feel negatively about how someone is behaving and you do not tell them, that is a withheld negative value judgment on their behavior.

And if you break communication and relationships down to the base level, what ultimately results in the end of a relationship is a compiling of negative value judgments over time that ultimately build, and every time that happens, it creates distance between the two people, the business partners or the people in the relationship.

The more that you judge this person negatively about how they’re behaving and don’t tell them, the more distance that’s created, the more secrecy there is, the more things that you’re holding back that you feel about what’s going on. And it’s really poor hygiene. It’s poor relational hygiene. It’s poor communication hygiene to let these things build, which is why Kerry and I, my wife, have this agreement that we run things to ground in the moment.

There’s nothing more important to us than our relationship and so we don’t let things build up. If something comes up, we stop everything and we handle that. We express it in the moment. We don’t let it build because at the end of the day, every business cycle, every relationship, all it is, is an ongoing communication process. That’s what it is.

You’re communicating with another human being about some cycle that you’re engaged in, the cycle of a relationship, the cycle of a business partnership, whatever it is. And if you feel that you cannot communicate with them for fear of being punished or for fear of some negative behavior on their part, then either you’re not doing a good enough job expressing your communications or they’re unwilling to listen, and you’ve got a problem there.

And this is the other thing about these withheld value judgments is that it’s also your job as a communicator to express them with love. You can’t bring anger or frustration or some emotional experience to the communication. The communication has to be flat.

So what I would recommend is feeling the emotion, right. Feel the frustration. Feel the anger. Feel the disappointment. Feel the betrayal or whatever negative emotional experience you’re attaching to this judgment you’re making on this person. Feel that and express it before you communicate to them so that your communication is not veiled with that emotional energy.

A lot of people like to be victims of their emotions. “I was mad.” “I was frustrated.” “I was sad and therefore I did this thing,” or, “therefore I communicated in a not nice way.” That is a cop-out and it’s one you need to let go of if you want to be an effective communicator. Be flat in your communications. Be loving. Communicate your desired outcome.

It’s like, “Hey, when you say you’re gonna take out the trash and then you don’t do it over and over, that has me feel like you don’t care about my experience and you don’t care that, like, I don’t like having a full trashcan,” and like, “What can we do to have you actually live up to this part of the deal that we have together?”

Because at the end of the day, also, when you’re looking at relationship, business partnership or otherwise, you’re making deals. And then when someone doesn’t live up to your expectation of them, that’s when you feel disappointment or you make some negative value judgment or whatever.

And so you can say, “Hey, look, maybe my expectations of your behavior are not accurate,” and like, “What can I expect of you?” Or “Why aren’t you performing this task? Is there something about it you don’t like?” You can be investigatory. You can find out why it is they are behaving in a way that you disapprove of, rather than just going straight to judgment or straight to emotion or straight to some kind of negativity. And also, rather than just not communicating about it.

A lot of people say, “Oh, we go to sleep angry and we wake up and things are better.” No, that’s not a good strategy. What you wanna do is handle stuff as it comes up. Don’t let it build. Think of you and this other person as two trees and every little thing in between…here you are. You’re two trees in a forest and every time one of these things comes up that you don’t talk about, it’s another tree popping up. Another tree popping up. Another tree popping up.

And ultimately, if you just let that keep happening, eventually you can’t see each other anymore because there’s a bunch of stuff in between you and all you see is all of this stuff and all these things that you’re unhappy about that have built up over time. And when you talk to people about the end of their business partnership or the end of their relationship, they always say, “I wish I would have handled this sooner. I wish I wouldn’t have let these things build up. I wish I would have realized that I was unhappy earlier in the process.”

There’s always this build up cycle and that build up cycle is the symptom of withheld negative value judgments that you do not communicate, things that you think and then don’t say. One person can make that happen. One person can take the initiative to say, “I’m going to be the person who doesn’t let things build.”

And I would suggest that. I found that to be really effective for me. One of my big thing, I got a team of 70 people now. I have a lot of people enrolled in my vision, in my plans, and one of the things that I do is I communicate in the moment about what’s going on, and I incentivize everyone else to do the same.

So communication hygiene, I hope you enjoyed this little conversation about it. I think it’s as important as brushing your teeth. It’s like mental and emotional hygiene, right. Consciousness hygiene, we were talking about quick toothbrushes, right. Oral hygiene, it’s the same exact thing. Don’t let the plaque build up in your relationships. Clean it out every day and you’ll find that your relationships are more profitable and are more successful.

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