Communication is invaluable.
We learn how to talk as we learn how to crawl, walk, run, and ride a bike. And while there are particular steps and building blocks in how to read and write, how we connect is largely chalked up to trial and error and just watching those around us.
Years ago, in our drive to help people, my husband and I took classes to be respite providers for foster care. There are so many tidbits of wisdom and knowledge from those classes we applied to our own kids and even used to improve our own communication with each other.
Today, I want to share one of them with you. It’s a tool that was created by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in the 1980s (“There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives”) It’s a fabulously fantastic tool and immensely helpful. In fact, I feel it is one of the foundational building blocks of all communication.
It’s an acronym called S.M.A.R.T.
Simple yet life-changing and applicable in every aspect of life. Every single relationship can benefit when you add this to your toolkit.
When we used this with our kids it removed the guesswork and gave us clarity. What does a “clean room” mean? What specifically does it entail? How would mom be measuring that success? Is it achievable for their age? While a 4-year-old may not be able to vacuum the room a teenager certainly can. Why is this relevant?By what time does the activity need to be completed?
If I did my part and clearly communicated the how, what, where when aspects of my expectations the kids had no argument and were aware of the consequences if they fell through. While they may try to slide away from the punishments they also knew they didn’t have much ground to stand on.
In my relationship with Jay, the “T” can be a challenge. And yet, this seems to be the biggest space where self-ownership truly comes into play. If I ask Jay to take out the trash and he agrees, yet I fail to add a “by when” I can’t be upset when he hasn’t done it 10 minutes after I asked. I wasn’t clear in my expectations and, likely, I didn’t explain why it was relevant to me thereby gaining his buy-in.
This responsibility of ownership in communication goes both ways. Think about it with work colleagues, friends, and family.
How can you use SMART to improve communication with those around you?
Would the clarity in time or another aspect reduce frustration and disappointment?
Are there ways this tool could enrich other communication tools you already use?
This is one of the many tools I’ve added and use regularly. Building on our ability to communicate means we can connect better with our loved ones and others around us. It also means we reduce upset and increase ease in our lives.