Have you ever had a conversation that got way sidetracked because someone didn’t understand what you were saying? You end up frustrated and wondering how you will ever get back on track. And sometimes you don’t get back to the heart of the conversation.
How does that happen? A message is delivered in the form of words, verbal or printed. The words are interpreted by the other person based on their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and beliefs. They respond to you and then you interpret their response. Based on your own thoughts, feelings, experiences, and beliefs, you decide what their message means and what significance it has. So many arguments start, projects get misguided, or reports and tasks don’t get done or done right because each person involved is thinking about what is being discussed from their own perception. There is no common understanding.
As a leader, it’s important to communicate clearly. In fact, communication will most likely be the major building block of your success in leadership. What makes a communicator effective?
Be clear in your own mind about what you want to say. What do you want to achieve with this communication, whether it’s a conversation, email, or marketing campaign? Know the specific, measurable outcome you want. Think about the “what,” “how,” and “who” of the situation. What is the issue at hand? How do I want others to be involved? Who am I asking to take action? What outcomes do we need for this issue? What are the possible obstacles? What tools will I need to provide to make the process easier?
Make sure your message is understood. Delivery of the message is only part of communication. The other huge piece is listening. Ensure the other party(s) involved understands your message by encouraging that person or group to share their thoughts about what you have said. “Let’s be sure we’re in agreement on next steps. Tell me what you’ll do next.” Listen carefully so you can give any clarity they need.
Slow the conversation down. In this fast-paced world that may seem a bit counter-intuitive. But, the more important a message is, the more times you need to say it. Effective leaders know that part of providing a clear message is repeating it. It takes that repetition for people to remember and internalize what has been heard or learned. The more you repeat it, the more clarity it will provide. It is often beneficial to find other words to deliver the same message. It allows the listener to think about your message in new ways that may help to clarify further. Focus on and hold yourself accountable to reaching two-way clarity. This has the added benefit of helping you maintain control over the direction of the conversation.
Demonstrating successful leadership communication is rarely second nature and is often filled with trial and error. See communication failures as mistakes – opportunities to enhance your skills to be even better the next time.
If you need help determining your leadership goals, honing the skills you possess, or understanding how to effectively communicate your message, contact Joy Humbarger at Joy@MaximizeYourLeadership.com.