Become a Better Communicator with these 3 Lessons:
Don’t get caught with your loquacious pants down. You have the vision, you have the strategy, you have the will, BUT do you have the right perspective?
On a daily basis, you are tasked with making choices, some more difficult than others, but important decisions nonetheless. Moves with significant impact that can ripple throughout the organization if not the wider reception of your business. As a thought leader, what you assert takes on a psychological weight that will set the pace for group and individual endeavors as well as guide the success of your own performance. Your choices in leadership communication matter and should not be taken lightly.
Getting the point across to your teams and peers requires style and effective strategies. It’s a big topic with many skilled approaches. You’ll need ongoing practice and study of course to assess your methods and improve your own interpersonal communication skills. It’s not always something that can happen overnight, but these concepts are some key ideas that can transform your process quickly and improve your rapport with others and enhance your ability to influence–no matter the situation.
This is in no way a definitive survey, but these are three significant lessons that you may easily integrate into your own work, and I am certain that you will have more success in your negotiations and when delegating.
- Get Past Your Ego — Leverage the collective intelligence of the group, and not just yourself
- Take The Win-Win Perspective — Stop antagonizing and find the path that doesn’t burn bridges
- Avoid Assumption — Read the room, be aware of what is going on around you and respond strategically within context
No matter the role or its responsibilities, being in an executive position means there will be frequent occasions where you will be leading a variety of people of different perspectives, personalities, and priorities. As a leader, you are in a privileged position of decision making, oftentimes under ambiguous circumstances where the next step on your project’s journey may not be so obvious; you’ll need all the tact and influence you can muster to encourage your teams to see the value in your solutions. However, if you are not keeping the following points in mind, you may very well be sacrificing your authority and trusted position as a meaningful leader.
Now, these are by no means the only lessons to know but they will go a long way on Your journey to become a better, more authentic and effective communicator.
Get Past Your Ego
This one might be a harder pill to swallow, especially where the communication channels are biased, or where there is not a lot of collaboration. Much of the practice of leading requires prioritizing others’ needs before your own. You may be issuing the executive order but it is often with other groups in mind. Realize that your perspective is really not that special and that there are others within your environment that hold valid insight worth acknowledging.
Make the effort to genuinely listen. Maintain the active intent of integrating another’s subject area expertise into solving whatever problem may be at hand. One sided conversations don’t help anyone, your way is not the only way. You are not always correct, always aware, or the most efficient. You might be wrong.
So long as there is a clear and respected structure in place, you should encourage other insights that may not always align with your original ideas. There may be important elements of a project that a more skilled set of eyes on your team can manage. Allowing space for other voices won’t bring the whole system crashing down. If you are constantly railroading discussions and bending the parameters to fit only your way of doing and seeing things, you are not doing a service to anyone and ultimately setting up the dominos for your own failure.
Work from a Win-Win Perspective
You never know whose help you will need either now or in the future. You need not be everyone’s best friend, but you do need to maintain positive and accessible relationships. If something or someone is not immediately serving your needs, they should not be cast aside without some sincere consideration; people should be treated as something more than a denuded service and means to an end. At the very least, acknowledge their efforts and let them know that although what they are offering may not be appropriate right now, there may be other opportunities where their skills are absolutely necessary.
Likewise, keeping an adversarial or antagonistic attitude invites other groups to subvert you. If you are deliberately looking at ways for the outcome of another to be lesser or inferior to your own, you better believe another party will be ready and willing to undermine you without hesitation. No one wants to work with or be around a negative or actively mean spirited person. And if you find yourself in such an environment, it will quickly spiral into a toxic game of backstabbing and sabotage. Just don’t do it.
It’s best to do what you can in a given situation to find a satisfactory plan that accommodates needs while not compromising your personal or professional standard. In short, it’s best to take the position of working towards mutual satisfaction. There will usually be an available benefit that all groups can settle for. The game is to locate that common ground and negotiate optimal outcomes. If not, the discussion should be directed towards an exit strategy since if there is no mutual benefit, then it is just a bad business.
If there is one way to quickly find yourself in hot water or other potentially precarious situations, it is to act as if you are all knowing. This lesson is also an extension of not being egocentric – if you are stuck in your own narrow perspective, you will inevitably transgress some personal or professional boundary. Especially as a leader, the influence of your opinion can incite or placate those who hear it.
The subject of Interpersonal Communication is beyond the scope here, but is an enormously rich and fascinating study of psychology, sociology, anthropology as well as many other subject areas in the Humanities. I encourage you to dig deeper but in brief, pay attention to,
What they say
How they say it
Body Language & Behaviors
Facial expressions & Other Gestures
The overall willingness or unwillingness to participate
An added layer of complexity occurs when you have to engage with a large group of individuals. Again Organizational Behavior and Group Dynamics is too deep a subject to survey here, but understand that how you engage 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3 et al. is not the same as how you handle communication transactions on larger scales. Read the Room as the saying goes. As a professional you should be cogent enough to be aware of these different social and psychological forces at play within a set of discrete circumstances.
The point here is a reminder to not ignore them! Treat these dynamics with care and caution. The attitudes of people can change dramatically and without much incentive, and a particular group may outnumber you in body and possess their own inertial power that far dwarfs any influence you might wield. Your only means of guidance may be just what you say and how you say it. Take care not to assume that your view or ideas are shared, take into consideration that what you say may trigger or be an incentive for another to react. Carelessly making tone-deaf demands, creating policy based on whatever belief or limited understanding you happen to have, or just willfully being unaware, these actions will demonstrate nothing more than an obvious ignorance others will quickly use against you.
The best you can do is become aware of the full context of the situation–as much as you can–and further take into account these additional concepts,
Culture — personal and corporate
Unique elements of the situation
Stakeholders and their Needs, Priorities and Attitudes
Cliques and different groups and management teams
Potential hazardous or detrimental scenarios
And above all the larger goal you are trying to achieve
It’s a lot to have on your mind, and it seems overwhelming. But as a human and social animal yourself, your mind is constantly navigating these murky psychic waters. This is a moment to trust your intuition, and couple that with an informed view of who you’re talking to and what are the given circumstances.
Before you open your mouth, take the time to consider the consequences of what you communicate. There are no take backs, once something is uttered it tends to remain in the hearts and minds of those who hear it. Like a small vine, it will grow and become entwined with everything else you say and do, it may even be held as standard by which you are judged, so make sure it’s aligned with your own standard.
You may never truly understand the views of any other person and there are innumerable frameworks and philosophies that can be harnessed to help you navigate your circumstances. It is important that each of us creates and practices a method that suits each of our individual styles. And although you never really know what is going to happen in a meeting or event, you must trust in what you have designed for yourself and act accordingly. Weigh your options quickly and assert a position. It is a tall order, and hopefully what has been surveyed here offers a few moments of inspiration to help you better navigate whatever communication you find yourself in.