It is no doubt that good leaders are also effective communicators.
“I don’t understand why anyone would have an issue with the way I communicate. I consider everyone’s view-point and yet my team and my boss feels that I am not being collaborative and I’m a control freak.”
This was the remark made by one of my clients (let’s call him Jeff) when I met him for the first time after he was assigned a coach by his organization.
Jeff had a tendency to talk indiscriminately. He never listened and never gave an opportunity to his audience, one on one or with several, to talk. At work, he overburdened his team, his peers, his direct reports with information. Added to this, he also had a habit of being in control too tightly; thus being perceived as stifling independent initiative. As a result of his micro-managing, he created resentment especially among his direct reports. Jeff caused ambiguity and unnecessary anxiety by not allowing others to talk and in not listening.
Jeff displayed strong self-confidence and his actions and behaviors indicated that he was in the best position to know what is really needed. He was thus perceived as self-centered or even arrogant at times; especially because he did not give others an opportunity to express themselves.
Is Communication “not listening”?
A colleague of mine has the habit of getting her family members and friends to say yes in a manner which is quite manipulative and coercive. She will ask those friends or family members to whom she has given gifts, isn’t what I gave you the best, you liked it no? I always give the best. She also has a habit of telling people to include her in her contact list and send her a what’s app and she asks them to do so by standing next to them and telling them to do so immediately. Whilst one can give her candid feedback about her gift and also say no or I’ll do it later to her what’s app request, most people don’t do so because no one wants to hurt her feelings. They also don’t want her to get upset on either being told ‘no’ or I’ll do it later.
Is Communication forcing yourself on others? Do you seek to force your opinion on others?
What is Effective Communication?
Those who inspire others as leaders influence by the way they act, how they communicate (what they say and how they say it). Bottom-line good leaders are good communicators.
Think about it, how can you inspire and influence others if you don’t communicate in a clear, credible and authentic way and don’t listen to what others have to say?
What are the key habits to adopt to become an effective communicator?
Communication is about engaging with others and in doing so you need to make the audience feel comfortable. For this you need to be self-aware – what is your communication style, what is working well and with whom and where you need to adapt. You need to understand others and adapt your style to make that connection.
Jeff was not self-aware nor did he take time to understand others.
2. Clarity and Conciseness
Communication does not mean you keep talking indiscriminately. Say what you have to say and say it in a concise way. Overloading people with information nonstop is not going to get or keep their attention. Being verbose kills your effectiveness. Be interactive and listen. Keep your communication simple, concrete and clear.
Jeff was thinking he was communicating effectively. However, he was the only one talking every time he was in conversation with another person – be it at meetings, one on one or on the phone. During his coaching, he realized he was long-winded and verbose in the way he communicated.
Confidence is articulated in what you say and how you say it. Being self-confident doesn’t mean being self-centered and believing that you are the be all and end all to everything. Your words, facial expressions, body language, tone of voice all play an important part in the way others see you as confident or not.
Part of confidence is about how charismatic you are. If you are distracted or too self-centered, you will not be able to connect with others.
4. Concentrate and Comprehend
Listen with your eyes and ears.
You sense what the other person is going through and you give your full undivided attention to your audience.
An effective and inspiring leader asks good questions and then listens with their eyes, ears, feeling and gives their full focus to their audience. You also look for the nonverbal cues. Sometimes a person’s facial expressions and body language will convey everything you need to know much more than their words.
Clearly, Jeff did not listen. Through coaching, he realized that even with his friends, he would ask a question and then interrupt them before they could complete a single sentence. He wanted to have a conversation with people but conversation was one way which was him talking continuously. My colleague, did the same by declaring her gift as the best and forcing people to do something without being empathetic to her audience. Her tone, body language and facial expressions were condescending and she did not give an opportunity to her audience to express their view-point.
Say what you said you will do. Keep up your word. If you have delegated a task, provide an environment where you allow a person to grow and develop. By being a control freak, you will not gain the trust from others.
Communication is what you say and how you say and in all this no matter whether you are informing, convincing, engaging or having your audience take action, you should care for your audience.
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