The Power of Good Communication…
Communication is at the soul of all relationships. Whether it is a professional relationship or one with your spouse, children, or friends, communication can be the one key factor that can either make or break it. One of the greatest learnings we coach Leaders on, is their communication style and how to have productive conversations that meet the needs and style of those you are conversing with, in such a way that they are impactful, positive and effective. Communication is a skill to be learned even though we do it daily. It is a skill that should not be taken for granted, but one that you put focus on improving knowing that the results can be extraordinary and impactful in every aspect of your life. A few points for consideration:
- First Impressions
You know the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, well unfortunately, the reality is that judgement does occur, it is part of human nature which as much as we want to deny it, it’s there. First impressions are lasting impressions. If you want to give someone a great first impression, show up like you care. Care about you, care about the impact you are making and the impression you are portraying by putting care into your dress, your grooming, smile, come out of your introverted shell to make small talk and get to know the individual you are meeting, be respectful, courteous and watch for your non-verbal communication. Remember that while you want to be your authentic self, showing up in a casual manner, gives the impression the meeting is not important to you, that the person is not important to you, and that you don’t care. It can be considered less professional. A smile can say everything and often leaves people comfortable and more apt to engage further into conversation with you.
- Be authentic
Being real and true to yourself, your core values and others when communicating is important. Intuitive individuals can spot someone who is fake and disingenuous. People prefer to deal with real people, not someone who is putting on a façade to show up more than they are. If you are being who you really are then you are more likely to create a relationship with the person you are trying to communicate with based on authenticity resulting in trust and a deeper connection.
- Read Your Audience
Know who you are talking with and tailor your message to a manner that they can hear it. When coaching leaders, I refer to this as knowing their “love language” based on the best-selling book authored by Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages”. If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so as it speaks primarily to understanding how someone receives love and in turn connects and hears your message. Similarly, in business or with children, we all need to feel loved in a different way. Some people need gifts, some need more money, some need recognition, some need time, and communication. Whatever it is, if you are the communicator and can speak the language of the person you are wanting to connect with, you will be heard at a deeper and more connected level.
- Be Transparent
Transparency goes along with being authentic. If you are trying to hide something or act like you know what you are talking about when you really don’t, it’s fairly easy to tell. The best thing to do when communicating is to be transparent. If you don’t know the answer to someone’s question, then tell them this and offer to find out the answer in a timely manner. By doing this, you bring more credibility to yourself which builds trust and certainty. Bluffing your way through life is tough, its hard to uphold on a long-term basis and it can cause great anxiety and internal fear that your fraud will be “found out”. Also, you will not need to practice your poker face in the mirror each day. 😊
- Take Action – Be Accountable
There is nothing worse than no follow up. I don’t know about you but when someone doesn’t do what they say they are going to, then I am left feeling like my time and effort to communicate with them was wasteful. It also leaves me feeling like they don’t really want my business or that I am not of value to them. I also don’t like the feeling of having to “chase” someone down for information as it takes a lot of time and energy. If you tell someone you will follow up with them, do it. Living up to your word in business and in life is what builds trust and reliability. Your reputation is everything.
- Active Listening
Don’t forget to be a good communicator you must be actively involved in listening.
Make sure that you are focussing 100 percent on the conversation and try not to let your mind wander. In other words, be present. Maintain eye contact, show attention by not interrupting, face and lean forward, have an open body posture with uncrossed arms. Active listeners that show attention are sincere and come across as authentic. Be curious. Once the speaker has finished, summarize what they have said in different words to show that you have a good understanding. This is part of good communication as you ensure you are on the same page and understanding as the individual you are communicating with. Misunderstandings are where communication often breaks down.
The same rules apply for email, text and zoom calls. Make sure that you are putting your best foot forward by creating that great first impression, by being authentic, transparent, providing follow up and actively listening. Here are some tips.
Email: Read what you are sending after you type it. Does it make sense? Is it concise, polite and professional? Use the spelling and grammar check if you are unsure. Don’t hit the send button until you are absolutely sure that you are delivering the correct message. Take 24 hours if you can before you hit send on a sensitive email.
Texting: The same applies to text messaging. Watch your tone, text messages can be misconstrued and misunderstood very easily. Take extra effort to not be curt or short. Be polite and engaging. The best rule of thumb here is to consider how you would accept the message if someone sent it to you. Use that emoji when you are uncertain as it provides the reader with more context around your emotion.
Zoom: Many of us are using zoom for business meetings right now. Be cognizant of what is going on around you. There is nothing worse than being on a zoom call and the spouse, kids or pets are running around in the background. Not the best first impression. If you are drinking coffee or water, consider the message that might be on your mug. The best choice might not be the “I hate people” mug. Keep your attire simple, clean and well pressed. Unless you are a fitness consultant, yoga pants and t-shirts aren’t the best outfit for a business meeting. Just because you are working from home and on zoom, doesn’t give you authority to relax into your environment. Professionalism in the workplace is still of great importance unless your leader gives you permission otherwise. Look attentive and not distracted by what is happening around you. Be aware of your non-verbal cues and for the love of god… don’t slurp your coffee.
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