Communication is indeed a tool, but it is not a key, sledgehammer, leash, crowbar, or magic wand.
In other words, it is not a way to control people’s behavior.
So what CAN communication do? No more and no less than act as a flashing light to draw attention to an issue.
If we are thoughtful and respectful about our communication, it’s more likely that the other party will be open to receiving the signals we send.
The recipient of our communication is the only one who determines how to (or whether to) respond to our message.
So do your best to be kind and clear in your communication, and please realize that no matter how nicely you ask, the other person may still decide not to grant your request!
This means you must be prepared to back up your communication with action. If you ask your child very nicely to stop drawing on the walls and she doesn’t, you’ll have to either take the crayons away or produce some paper for her to draw on.
If you ask your spouse warmly and respectfully to have only one glass of wine so he can drive you home from the party but he drinks four, you’ll need to figure out an alternate mode of safe transportation.
If you ask your employee kindly but firmly to get the report to you by Thursday, and still don’t have it in hand at the end of the day on Friday, you’ll need to start making alternate plans for future reports as well as for your employee.
Even the most skillful communication does not have the power to control others. We each decide for ourselves which actions to take.