Back in the 90s, the country band Diamond Rio released “Meet in the Middle,” a song sharing a love story that began when the couple was too young to drive but had “seven hundred fence posts from your place to ours.” The chorus says, “I’d start walking your way; you’d start walking mine. We’d meet in the middle …” Although in the first verse, the song is literally about walking the same distance to meet in the middle, the second verse shares “That if we don’t see eye to eye, there’s something we can do” and leads back to the chorus with “I’d start walking your way …” to figuratively share how meeting in middle will allow the couple to “gain a lot of ground ‘cause we’d both give a little” during times of conflict. Meet in the middle, find a happy medium, go fifty-fifty, find the middle ground … the song and these common sayings are all about give and take or adjusting in a way to make all involved happy. So how does “meeting in the middle” relate to communication strategies?
Well this week, I had the opportunity to incorporate the song and the concept in developing a communication training presentation called “Meet in the Middle” to share with H+M Industrial EPC Young Professionals group. The training focused on defining a communication expectation before the communication experience to determine the best communication strategies and medium for success. In other words, what is your communication expectation? What is your receiver’s communication expectation? How can we “meet in the middle” of those expectations and use the best strategies for communicating? We looked at emails, texts, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings to discover which communication medium best meets which communication expectation.
But most of all, we just had a really great time! We played “Would You Rather” and made paper airplanes (see the evidence in the picture above - check out the airplanes on the floor). The Oscar-worthy performances by our 4 willing (well sorta willing) volunteers helped to show how words alone don’t share much of a communication message (only 7% -- voice, facial expressions, and body language make up the rest). And we learned when an email and text works and when it doesn’t. I encouraged everyone to use handwritten notes when possible -- people love when you invest time and effort to communicate in this way. We also looked at how email and text tone can be created with positivity, word choices, and good manners.
I hope that the participants’ main take-away from the training is that face-to-face communication is the most effective way to make sure your message is successfully shared. (I’m pretty sure they got this -- I said it A LOT!) We live in such a fast-paced, technology-filled world and sometimes forget that talking with someone face-to-face allows for your words, voice, facial expressions, body language, and the receiver’s feedback to all shape and support your message for better understanding. I certainly LOVED the face-to-face time I spent with these great young professionals.
etc Strategies believes that defining the communication expectations allows you to then “meet in the middle” and use the best strategies and the most appropriate communication medium for a more successful communication experience. And a big “THANKS” to Robyn Hall and the young professionals at H+M Industrial EPC. Karen and I had a great time meeting you, enjoyed a yummy lunch, and are still smiling about some of your airplane-making attempts!
Are you interested in our “Meet in the Middle” presentation? It’s part of our new training program, Communication Bites, lunchtime presentations sharing communication strategies that can be used that very day. Let us know if you need more information. We would love to work with you too!
PS - The only negative of this experience is that I am still singing the song in my head.
“I’d start walking your way; you’d start walking mine. We’d meet in the middle …” Ugh!