Trusted Personal Brand: One Conversation at a Time

The final level of communication for those willing to build a strong personal brand must master is Level 3 Communication, or private, 1:1 communication.

Trusted Personal Brand: One Conversation at a Time image shutterstock 143911669 300x200Talking from ShutterstockThis level is what separates the poor or mediocre leaders from the truly outstanding leaders. To master Level 3 Communication strong Level 1 Communication skills are a pre-requisite, as they will allow you to do and say the things you need to at level three.

In my coaching practice I find this to be a big roadblock in career development and in a leader’s ability to gain the trust and respect of his or her team members.

The biggest challenge my clients tell me in being effective at level three is being able to frame the conversations in a way that is direct but also respectful enough to build trust and maintain a solid respectful relationship.

Many struggle with getting that balance “just right.”

Like Goldilocks’ experience with the options she found at the home of the three bears, some are too direct while others are not direct enough. Others are too respectful, while some are not respectful enough.

Another component of getting Level 3 Communication “just right” involves engaging in these private, 1:1, direct conversations in the proper timing. Many people wait too long to have the conversation to address issues that need to be dealt with, and this also damages the relationship.

On the other end of the spectrum some hold that 1:1 communication too promptly and the timing is also inappropriate because it comes in the wrong setting, other people may be around or it’s a reaction in the moment without proper forethought.

The best leaders master Level 3 Communication by delivering it with three key traits. Their private, 1:1 communication occurs promptly, directly & respectfully.

Most leaders have default to just two of these three and tend to have challenges with the third in the triad. As you might imagine, this causes a problem with their personal brand as people who have interacted with them in this manner lose their trust and respect.

In this model there are four options:

  1. Prompt/Respectful: This is missing “direct” so it’s too soft. It’s beating around the bush, is low in specificity and causes ‘mind reading.’
  2. Prompt/Direct: This is often delivered with inappropriate tone and body language, delivered in an inappropriate setting or location and lacks respect for the individual. Often is an immediate reaction in the moment.
  3. Direct/Respectful: This is not immediate enough and creates resentments because of the time delay between the behavior and the time it is addressed directly with the person. This communication style erodes the trust in the relationship.
  4. Prompt/Direct/Respectful: This is the ideal way to communicate; it builds trust and gets results!

Which of these four manifestations of Level 3 Communication is your tendency. If it’s one of the top three, get some coaching to add the third so you can become a more effective communicator and build a strong personal brand every time you have to communicate one-on-one with another.


Skip Weisman, The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert, has worked with business leaders and their teams to transform both individual and organizational performance in industries from banks to plumbers since 2001.Skip’s experience helping his clients has shown that the biggest problems in workplaces today can be directly traced to interpersonal communication between people in the work environment. Having spent 20 years in professional baseball management, his first career in which he served as CEO for five different franchises, has given Skip tremendous insights and skills for build high-performing teams. Learn more about Skip at and

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