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The 3 Gates of Communication

There is a common lesson or parable, often credited to the 13th century scholar, Rumi, that states there are three gates to speech or communication:

  1. Is it true?

  2. Is it kind?

  3. Is it necessary?

The lesson goes that each time you are getting ready to speak, you should mentally pass your words through each of the three gates. There is a powerful application of this lesson to our communication as leaders.

I write often about the importance of being intentional with communication, and generally I’m referring to making the time and space for communication. It is just as important, however, to be intentional with the words we speak – and not just to a person, but about a person.

  • Before jumping to conclusions or accusing someone of a mistake, make sure you have all of the facts and your information is true.

  • Resist the urge to get pulled into office gossip (especially if you are a leader!).

  • Resist the urge to badger someone unnecessarily. Yes, give objective, critical feedback, but don’t micromanage or nitpick performance.

  • Don’t monopolize the conversation during meetings, allow your team members to share and engage in dialogue.

These 3 gates also apply to written communication – have your next email pass through these 3 gates before hitting send (and if it can’t make it through, edit or delete).

It’s essential we all slow down and be more intentional and thoughtful about our communication. it may take a few more moments on the front end, but it will save you time and energy on the back end.


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