Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Three-Level Technique (3LT)

“What people do cannot tell you enough. Not even how they do it. What is really important is why they do it.”

The 3LT is based on the premise that when people describe things, they give out different qualities of information. We have found it useful to distinguish three distinct level of informations: Facts, Meaning and Importance.

Facts – provides the major part of our communication. When people talk, they tell you what’s, when’s, and where’s about the subject, even if it is themselves. However, if we need to understand who is doing the talking, we need better quality information.

Meaning – crosses the boundary between external facts and internal feelings. It is about the meaning, interest or feelings about those facts to the individual concerned. It starts to tell you something about the person who is describing the facts.

Importance – When you received this information, you are getting a clear statement of one aspect of the person’s hilltop(perspective) position: what is important to that individual, why they value certain things, what they believe, etc.

The main point thing is to cast a non-judgemental eye over the drives we see in people, to identify strengths and limitations rather than right or wrongs. If you ask people questions and then judge their responses, you will very quickly close the conversation down. It is important to suspend making judgement to gather quality information that you may enable a more accurate and informed judgements later on.

Tools in Communication:

Listening – being a good listener means more than being able to repeat or even paraphrase what has been said. Good listeners are people who can pay attention to the messenger, not just the message. Good listening is achieved by giving absolute attention to the speaker. Good listeners are those who can look behind the words to the meaning and implications of what being said. When a person talks, he or she offers opportunities to understand them as individuals, not just the subject they are talking about. If you can retune your ears to listen for these different levels of information, people will describe themselves to you even in the most apparently mundane conversations.

Questioning – Some wear their values on their sleeves and find it difficult to hold a conversation without publicly declaring what they believe. 3LT can be used to spot opportunities to ask deeper-level questions. This is called permission points. It is usually a small throw away comments or little additions to the main body of Level 1 (FACT) information, example of this are, “….. and I found it quite interesting”, or “….and I think it’s important.”  What these permission points do is invite you to pick them up and ask a deeper question, for example, ‘What was it about it that interested you?’, or ‘Why do you think it is important?’


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