Whether you are an aspiring executive or in a support role in the workplace, successful interaction and effective communication skills are a key ingredient to business success. Communication stems from the Latin word communicare, meaning to care and it is the process by which we exchange and flow information between individuals or groups of people. Great leaders connect with people every time they speak on every emotional level and their words inspire how their audience will envelop credibility, trust and rapport which will lead to successful interaction.
Communication is successful when both the sender and the receiver grasp the same information. In today's expressway of information and technology it has become increasingly important to have excellent communication skills. We cannot just rely on texts and email to convey our thoughts, intentions and objectives. The inability to communicate effectively will hold an individual back not only in their business career, but in their social and interpersonal relationships.
The power of communication is synonymous with the power of the leader. Leaders don't just inform, they empower, connect, make others feel valued and uniquely important -- they tell a story that captures our attention and in the process makes the audience feel that they are the starring role as Peter Druker wrote: "Leadership is not magnetic personality. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."
Tools to Become an Effective Communicator
Mind the GapGreat leaders learn how to get to the point, gain the listener's attention, emphasize understanding, capture their interest and build their trust. They work collaboratively with their audience to deliver their message with conciseness and clarity so it is conveyed with conviction and belief, putting the audience in the right frame of mind to receive the message. If you anticipate the listener's viewpoint and feelings and offer them something they wish to know, there will be no gap when you communicate. Your words will count, there will be no barriers and you will appeal to the emotions of the audience.
The Two-Way ProcessClear communication is a two-way street. After you have said what you have to say, stop, listen and look for feedback and clues of comprehension. When a person responds give them your full attention, avoid cutting them off and process what is being said before answering. Ask open ended questions and engage in discussion. Fine tune your message if necessary and listen with your eyes and open your ears. Great leaders understand the needs and motivations of their audience and are able to sustain sensitive interaction with framing their messages carefully to capture the wisdom of their audience and empower them to feel more capable and knowledgeable.
Focus on ListeningGreat leaders don't rush to communicate or dominate a conversation, but listen to their audience creating acceptance and openness which conveys the message "I am not judging you." "Walk a mile in their shoes" to better understand how your audience thinks and feels and what is important to them. This will compel your listener to feel involved and deep rooted in the conversation. Fast facts: We listen at 125-250 wpm, we think at 1000-3000 wpm, less than 2% of people have had formal education with listening. Listening when we communicate, promotes the feeling of being valued, appreciated, respected and understood. Listening is the most powerful form of acknowledgement.
Speaking to 10 or 10,000Great communicators can tailor a message that they can speak to a small group of people or thousands in any setting. Enabling your audience to feel special, as if they are being spoken to individually, is the key to knowing how to work a room and establishing trust, credibility and rapport.
How You Say ItIt's not always what you say, it's how you say it that counts. Start by making eye contact. Doing so inspires trust and confidence when you speak. Secondly, be in tune with your body language. It can say as much if not more than words. Standing with your arms at your side expresses to others that you are approachable and open to hearing what your audience has to say and having your arms crossed and your shoulders hunched suggests unwillingness and disinterest to communicate. Tone or attitude speaks volumes. To your audience your voice is part of who you are and what you believe, with your voice you can inject impact, sincerity and credibility and in turn this will affect how the audience receives and responds . This is a leader's most persuasive appeal particularly if grounded in high ethical standards and integrity.
Empathy Speaks VolumesEmpathy is the core of human connection that keeps communication and relationships inextricably connected. When you are able to vicariously experience the feelings, attitudes and thoughts of someone else, great things begin to happen with the emotional connection between you and your audience and what they think...."They get me, they understand me, they know what I am feeling." We create bonds of trust and openness by putting ourselves in another person's shoes. Great communicators don't worry about sounding important, showing off their own expertise, or boosting their own egos. They instead think about what their audience needs to hear and tune in to deliver the message with empathy so that the listener feels appreciated and understood.
The What and HowEffective communicators are not just smooth talkers. People lose interest fast in listening to those who cannot add value to a situation or topic. It is important to clarify the goal of the communication and identify key points in the message. An original approach to a well-defined clear and concise message will catch the audience's interest and help them remember what you say. Effective leaders articulate their vision, share their knowledge and inspire their audience to act on their message through clear communication. The art of excelling in communication builds better relationships, harnesses a sense of community within the workplace, increases employee retention and maximizes productivity within an organization.
Bottom line, clear communication is one of the most important tools to achieving business success and attaining your goals and aspirations as an effective communicator and leader. In Real Estate the old cliché is "Location, Location, Location" -- In Business Leadership it is clearly "Communication, Communication, Communication."