Communication, which occupations approximately 70% of our waking hours, is what many leaders find the most frustrating. The fact is most of us were never taught how to communicate in a way that produces desired results, so we continue to experience frustration, resistance, conflicts, or breakdowns. Think of a recent important conversation. How many of these questions can you answer YES to?
- Did I taking full responsibility for the message being heard by the other person? (Remember, it does not matter what you say, it only matters what the other person hears.)
- Did I respect the other person's point of view? (Did I have a reaction to what they were saying that prevented me from listening to their full message?)
- Did the other person feel heard and understood? (Did I acknowledge them?)
- If I was asking someone to take a specific action, did I make my request clear?
- Was I speaking in a way the other person can understand? (Speaking in their communication style.)
- Was I communicating openly, without prejudices, expectations and judgment? (Was I focused on having to be right or hearing their point of view?)
- Did the other person leave the conversation feeling good – with some value?
- Did I leave the conversation feeling good – with some value?
- Did I follow-up to see if the conversation was successful – it led to the desired results?
- If the arrival of the conversation did not meet my expectations, did I learn what I could improve upon to better communicate with that particular person?
So how did you score?
8-10 Yeses indicate you're the tops. Keep up the good work.
4-7 Yeses is OK. Brush up in certain areas.
0-3 means you have work to do.
Here are four ways to be a better communicator and leader:
Talk less and hear more.
We want to be heard and listened to but we do not always concentrate on listening to others. We focus more on our agenda than on the other person's thoughts, concerns or issues.
Do not assume others are mind readers.
We want some sort of action or response from another person. However, we do not let them know what we really want or how to achieve it. Before assuming the other knows what you want, first inform and then ask for feedback. Take the time upfront to get better mileage later on.
Do not shot the messenger.
We want to understand but our ability to understand is tainted by our perceptions of the person speaking or the outcome we are looking to achieve. So, we often pass judgment on the speaker and disregard the message. Concentrate on the message not the messenger.
We want acceptance and agreement from others, so much so, that we often become consumed with having to be right or providing our point. We push and push our agenda. Rather, stop, look and listen for areas of mutual agreement. Then work from there to co-create a greater outcome together.
The next time you are involved in an important conversation pause your mental and verbal tape player for a moment. Then start really listening. It's amazing what you will discover. Perhaps information that can lead to your leadership and business success.