IntroductionIn the last month, I’ve bothered a lot of people with things that I’ve said. As a result, I’ve thought a lot about what it is that we say and do that bothers people and I’ve tried to refine my understanding of the principles that should govern communication. I hope that they are as useful to my readers as they have been and will be to me. This is not an explanation of things that I do perfectly. It is an explanation of the ideals I strive to live.
These principles are applicable in all communication, but are particularly important when the messages we send are uncomfortable or unwelcome. It is easy to avoid offending people when we’re telling them how much we appreciate them or that they did something well, but easy to offend when we’re correcting, teaching, or disagreeing. It is in these “negative” communications that we are most tempted to violate these principles. However, they are as applicable in difficult situations as in easy ones.