Leadership Quick Tips for Better Communication
We all know that effective communication is important to us as leaders in our marriages, our workplace, and our friendships. In fact, in 2015 the PEW Research Center asked a national sample of adults to rank the most important skills for children to learn. In the poll, communication skills were by far the top pick, followed by reading, math, teamwork, writing, and logic. Yet how much time do we invest in developing better communication skills? We often fall into communication patterns we observed growing up or simply what feels natural to us.
Our goal in communication is to get our message across. Communication is about trying to recreate in the mind of the receiver what is in our mind. We must take responsibility for how we send the message. In communication seminars, I will ask someone to catch the Koosh ball I am about to toss to them. Then I throw it way over their head or on the floor in front of them. “Who has the problem?” I ask. Of course, they answer, “You do! You didn’t throw the ball in a way that it could be caught.” And so it is with communication. If I am the “message thrower,” I must deliver the message in a way that can be easily received. Below are some basic and effective communication skills.
6 Leadership Tips for Better Communication
Be an encourager –
Be known for the compliments you give, not for complaints and criticisms. This helps others relax and be open around you, instead of being defensive. Encouragement gives people hope, affirmation, and comfort. When you deliver encouragement regularly, you are establishing a rapport that will help with other types of communication.
Avoid verbal triggers –
The easiest trigger to pull is the “you” word. Instead of owning my thoughts and feelings, I shift the focus to the other person. Couple “you” with “always,” or “never,” and I’ve got a really toxic combination. It’s a sure-fire prescription for putting a person on the defensive and making it hard for them to absorb your actual message.
Stay away from imperative terms –
Closely aligned with verbal triggers are words like “should,” “must,” “had better,” or “supposed to.” I recently caught myself saying to someone, “What you should do is…” It was an idea I had for his business, but I said it in a way that sounded like I knew what was best for him. That word choice did not convey the suggested idea I meant to communicate.
Avoid exaggeration –
In our eagerness to make our point we are sometimes guilty of stretching the truth. We want to sound more interesting or be more convincing. Here’s a typical exaggerated statement, “Everybody is upset about the program change.” The reality is that some people are upset but not every single person. Avoiding exaggeration is a mark of an honest communicator and earns the respect of others.
Develop a sense of timing –
People are more receptive at certain times than others. Consider the other person. What is their mood? How busy are they at the moment? What are the surrounding distractions? Assess all of this before you launch your message. Consider asking, “I’d like to talk with you about …. Is this a good time?”
Pay attention to your nonverbal communication –
Otherwise known as body language, this communication involves our gestures, posture, facial expressions, tone of voice, speaking volume, pace of speech, and eye contact. All of those can have greater impact than the words we say. We need to be sure we are conveying the same message nonverbally as verbally.
What would better communication skills mean for your home and workplace leadership? The tools above are a great way to start making progress today.
If you’re a church leader, pastor, or the leader of a non-profit organization, are you looking for leadership training or team development help? Thanks to the backing of a generous foundation, LifeEquip is able to offer leadership and organizational training to meet the needs of small organizations. LifeEquip’s main focus is pastoral support. LifeEquip services include pastoral coaching, OLA, Everything DiSC, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, and Lead Like Jesus.
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