It’s no secret that good leaders are good communicators and that great leaders are great communicators. Getting your ideas across to your team in a way that they not only understand, but also get on board with can be the difference between heading into a project alone and heading in with an army of motivated supporters.
The first key to great communication is understanding what exactly communication is. Communication with others is so much more than what you say. Yahoo Finance offers us a break down:
“Only a small percentage of communication involves actual words: 7%, to be exact. In fact, 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice).”
What you’re actually saying matters little, compared to how you say it. How you deliver instruction is far more important than what the instruction is. How you lead is far more important than what you say you’ll do.
Focus on Body Language
Since 55% of communication is visual, it makes sense that when you’re communicating, you should be paying attention to your body language. The main issue leaders come up against with body language, is that it can be deceiving. If you’re trying to deliver a confident message but you’re not feeling confident, your body language may betray you. If you’re trying to be welcoming, but the other person has a bigger personal space bubble than you, they might take your words as aggressive.
The bottom line is that you have to pay attention to how you are saying things with your body. In conversation, meetings and when public speaking, body language can have a huge impact on how the message you are trying to convey is being received.
Assume the Best
Writing for Inc., Kevin Daum says: “With the increase in texting and short e-mails, it’s often hard to know the intended tone of communication. I regularly hear people complain about someone’s attitude from a perfectly innocuous email.”
When we text or email, none of the other elements of communication (body language, tone, etc.) are present, so it’s easy for things to get misunderstood. If you assume that people are upset or being terse, the chances of that conversation turning downhill increases. If you assume the best though, you air on the side of positivity. If it turns out that someone is upset with you, they’ll let you know.
Know How to Listen
Conversation, it can sometimes be forgotten, is a two way street. Communication is about sharing information back and forth. It’s about what you say, and what you hear. To be an effective communicator you also have to be an excellent listener. This isn’t news, but it’s not just about listening to what the other person is saying, it’s about paying attention to what they are trying to achieve. Being a great listener is about having an open mind, hearing possibilities and desiring to understand what the other person is sharing with you.
This can be difficult, especially in the work place when people are arguing over different agendas and ideas about how things should work. But waiting patiently to understand, keeping an open mind for different ideas and not rushing to speak and drown out those with differing opinions is the key to great communication and to great leadership.
In a way, communication is easy. Just talk and listen. It seems so simple and yet so much misunderstanding happens in the work place. It is the small things, like paying special attention to your body language and listening with a truly open mind that makes the difference between a good communicator, and a great one.
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