Of all the leadership skills necessary perhaps effective communication is the most important. Being able to communicate so that peers, associates, leaders, vendors, customers and community understand is harder than you might think.
In an INC article written by Alison Davis,
- You have to truly know your core message. Whether that message is a marketing piece designed to attract more customers or a personal branding message that let’s everyone know what you are best at and how you should be considered in the work world – you have to clearly define what that message is. If you are unclear then others will struggle to know what you are trying to communicate. Alison says “Great marketers, politicians and even preachers know that creating a core message framework is key to achieving focus and consistency.”
Let’s talk about your elevator speech, as one example. If your message is too broad or if it is different each time you share it or different depending on your audience, you will be spreading a mixed message. In a recent article I talked about knowing what you want before seeking sponsors – this is the same when using effective communication to let people know what you are good at.
You have to create that core message and then memorize it so that when someone asks – “what do you do” or “what do you want to be known for” or “when should I call you” people know, without a doubt the answer.
Yes, there are different ways of communicating to different people – but at the core, the message must always be the same in order to effectively communicate the message. Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people. Jim Rohn
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people. Jim Rohn
- You have to repeat it over and over. You’ve heard that adage that you must “tell someone, then tell them again and then tell them you told them” before they remember. Just think of your significant other or your children – how many times do you need to repeat yourself before your message is heard and understood? The same is true for effective communication in the work place. Alison says “Smart leaders keep repeating core messages, even past the point when they think everyone gets it. (They don’t.)”
The more you repeat your message, the more it becomes a part of who you are and a part of how you are viewed.
- Ask questions. Communication isn’t a one-way street or all about you and what you want to convey. It is also about the other person to whom you are talking. What do they want/need, what are they hearing you say, what expectations do that have. Alison says “Encourage questions by asking them. When meeting with team members, ask, “What’s preventing us from accomplishing this? What are you hearing from customers and suppliers that will help us or hurt us? What do we need to talk about to make this happen?”
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Peter Drucker
In effective communication listening is as important as speaking so make sure after you ask the questions that you are listening both to what is being said as well as to what isn’t. They say that you need to “listen with your eyes” as well as your ears.
To be a great leader, you must be able to communicate intentions, goals, direction and expectations. Remember to be clear about your message, repeat it regularly and ask for feedback.
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