Every day, we engage in conversations…with our family, our friends, our co-workers and employees. Some of these conversations are trivial, some may be crucial and some may be downright tough. How much of the time do you get it right, and accomplish what you had hoped to in that conversation?
So much of my coaching work with executives and business leaders centers around leading, influencing and communicating. It’s absolutely essential that leaders are good communicators. Yet, many aren’t skilled when it comes to handling tough conversations or knowing just what to say to get people to buy into key ideas.
Because we have been communicating all of our lives, most of us tend to think we’re stronger communicators than we actually are. So there is a tendency to just “wing it.” Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of mixed messages, ineffective leadership, and even confrontation and strained relationships. The most successful leaders know how to be very strategic and intentional in their communications to ensure that when it matters most – they deliver the right message at the right time.
In my work, I help clients assess exactly what the objectives are for the conversation or presentation. It helps to spend some time carefully thinking through the situation before developing the key talking points. Just this step alone puts leaders in a position to be an effective rather than a reactive communicator. It’s not so much about memorizing words or phrases, which can sound too rehearsed. It’s about staying focused on what you want to convey, and being very aware of the other person and/or the audience. Spending time considering the intended outcomes of the communication is the most important step to help you master your communications. This will allow you to be prepared and proactive, yet still come across and genuine and sincere in your delivery.
Great communicators are also good readers of the person or people receiving the message to be able to internalize the reaction (s). What are the non-verbals telling you? Communication is an art, not a science. It’s an ability to be intuitive in the moment and connect with the other person. The good news is that anyone can learn to be a strong communicator by reflecting and being intentional about getting better.
Simply taking a few minutes immediately following an interaction and assessing how you did is a good start. You can also consider enrolling someone – tell them what you want to work on and ask them to hold you accountable to it. Inviting feedback, reflecting on it and then being intentional about improving is one of the best things you can do for yourself…when it comes to leading, communicating and relating to others. Your co-workers, family and friends will thank you for it!