Sometimes we need to conduct a relationship through a third party. For example, we might be supplying something to our customer’s customer, and need to discern indirectly what they require. Unfortunately, the person or organisation in the middle may not be that effective at relaying the necessary information, partly because their expertise is in another field—that’s why they’ve engaged our services.
Or maybe a family member asks for our help in resolving an issue with another family member but doesn’t want us to get directly involved—and yet they have some difficulty really hearing what the other person is saying.
If the set-up was a piece of electronics, we’d say the party in the middle was a low-pass filter, unintentionally removing important parts of the signal.
Two questions then…
What do you do to avoid the consequences of the filter? Seek opportunities to talk directly in a three-way conversation is an obvious step, though that option isn’t always open, or welcomed. Perhaps we have little option but to coach the middle person in being a more complete communicator. We may well need to find a way to motivate them to take the trouble.
How do you tackle this issue when it arises?
Do you notice when you are being a filter, inadvertently inhibiting a process of communication? And what’s your response to that realisation?