The Communication Wheel for Business Leaders

communication wheel emotions card relationships Oct 02, 2022

The Communication Wheel

This past weekend, I took my KLP cohort and their spouses and partners to Steamboat Springs, Co, for our relationship retreat. I love this weekend for many reasons, but my favorite reason is my wife Angela, and I get to teach together. 

We have a deep love for excavating truth, and sharing what we have learned is a superpower we have been gifted with. And this weekend, we get to combine our superpowers and share the ups and downs of 24 years of marriage with the group.

At its heart, The Communication Wheel (see example above) is simple, and that is what makes it so powerful. In five steps, you can learn to attack the issue at hand and not each other. I want to say that again. This tool teaches you to attack the issues, not each other. When you learn to do this, intimacy occurs, and relationships thrive.

So let's walk through the steps.

Steps entrepreneurs can take to use The Communication Wheel 

1) Describe the situation. This is precisely what it says. Tell the other person the situation. Why is this the first step? Because we are learning to attack the problem. We are putting the problem front and center to ensure we are on the same page. 

Example: "I don't like how you invite your friends over to watch the football game last minute without telling me."

2) The story I am telling myself. We can create an entire novel in our heads without saying one word. So share with the other party what you have been telling yourself in your head.

Example: "When you invite your friends over last minute and not telling me, the story I tell myself is that you don't respect me and don't bother to tell me because your friends are not important to me. And when I feel that way, I get triggered because of my issues with my Family Of Origin (FOO) and how they made me little and dismissed me frequently.

3) I feel. This is where you say what you are feeling. This may be simple, but it can be tricky if we haven't practiced. There are 8 primary emotions: Anger, Fear, Pain, Joy, Passion, Love, Shame, and Guilt (example attached below)

Example: "I feel sad because you don't respect me, and then it makes me angry, and then I want to withhold sex with you for a week."

4) I need. Tell them what you need from them.

Example: "I need you to respect me by respecting the boundaries I put in place."

5) I want from you. Simply tell them what you want and be specific because we are terrible mind readers.

Example: "I want you to give me at least 24-hour notice so that I can prepare for your friends to come over. They are welcome, and I want you to enjoy them, and I don't want to be angry at you.

Once the 5 steps are completed, the other person starts at step one and follows the wheel. It is essential to know that you will most likely go around the wheel several times, and it is okay not to finalize the solution at the moment; you are in this relationship for the long haul. 

Give yourself grace by calling pause so you can process accordingly. When you manage it this way, you learn to attack the problem and not each other, which is everything in a relationship. 

I have attached a video below of me teaching one of my clients how to use The Communication Wheel if you want to dig in deeper. 

Homework for business leaders

Practice the communication wheel with someone you trust. Show it to the other person, and forward this email to them. Then ask them for a convenient time to practice this with them (let them decide).

Pro tip: Pick a small problem to work on first. (Leaving the toilet seat up, not emptying the dishwasher, drinking out of the milk carton, etc.) Then as you get better at this practice, move up to the more complicated issues.


  • Communication Wheel
  • Emotion Card

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