Yesterday, my brother and I spent about 3 hours on a roadtrip to do some family business. I don’t get to spend enough time with him and we both enjoyed laughing and talking about what’s going on in life.
Joe has two life experiences I do not; he has two daughters (I don’t have children of my own), and he served in the Navy (I didn’t have the honor and privilege of serving in the military).
We were talking about talking, about communicating information to people so they get it. I’m probably bad about giving too much information. I believe having the background can often help someone place the event/fact/instructions within the framework of their lives in such a way that it sticks more easily…see, that was probably more information than you needed/wanted.
Joe said that in the military there’s a communication strategy known as BLUF…Bottom Line Up Front.
He said, “It’s different than when you simply say to someone, ‘Let me cut to the chase.’ To me, that phrase seems to infer that you don’t care so much about them as you do about getting on with the situation for your own good.”
I thought that was a pretty perceptive way to look at what a lot of folks see as a simple communication tool.
“But, if you preface the situation by explaining, ‘In the military there’s a strategy called, Bottom Line Up Front, where you give the end result desired or what will seem to happen at the completion of the project at the beginning of the conversation. Do you mind if I start with the Bottom Line Up Front?”
As he explained, it’s a good, caring, courteous way to pare away a lot of extraneous information and, in fact, get to the bottom line…or, the chase, if you like that better. Then, you can ask if they need clarification, more info, or a different way to explain. If they do, give them what they need; if they don’t, great! You’re ahead of the game on time and effort.
The Bottom Line at the End here is, my brother is one of the best people I know…and smart. But, don’t tell him…it might go to his head…and then I’d have to give him the Bottom Line Up Front.