Master The Art Of Communication
Mastering the art of communication by enhancing your communication skills will be vital to your success as a team leader. By communicating effectively, your team will perform their duties and responsibilities more efficiently, aid in strengthening your relationships with your team members, prevent conflicts from occurring, and create an overall more positive team environment. Although some people are naturally good at communicating, with the right guidance, these skills can be developed by anyone. Below are five key principles of communication that you can start working on right now to become a skilled communicator.
- Become an expert at listening
In the same way that you first need to know how to walk to be able to run, you must first learn to listen well in order to master the art of communication By developing your listening skills, you will be able to gather valuable information that you can then utilize to strategically formulate your words that will make your team feel heard and understood. These feelings will result in establishing a high level of trust between you and them, which makes up the bedrock of effective leadership.
2. Less is more
As a result of many factors, attention spans are decreasing. When you are long-winded in your communications, you risk losing the attention of your team and causing confusion regarding what is expected of them. To avoid this from happening, first determine what specific actions you are wanting your team members to take as a result of your communication. Then, take some time to formulate your thoughts on paper before reviewing your words and eliminating anything that isn’t essential to clearly conveying your desired expectations.
3. Focus on the work, not the person
One critical aspect of communication for team leaders is how you express the need for improvement or correction. While it may feel natural to criticize them directly as a way to encourage these changes, the only result you will achieve is a team member feeling defensive and instead of making the requested changes, they will put their efforts into justifying their actions, and even worse, may hold a lasting grudge against you. A much more effective way to ensure that the team member complies without any repercussions is by referring to the actions and not the individual directly. To accomplish this, use non-specific language that doesn’t put emphasis on them as an individual such as, “the numbers” or “the performance” as opposed to “your numbers”, “your performance”.
4. Sell your ideas with stories.
In a leadership position, you can technically demand your teams’ compliance, but the more effective option would be to “sell” your ideas and create “buy-in” through communication. When you incorporate stories into your communication, you create a powerful emotional connection that will do all the selling for you by engaging your team emotionally so that they will embrace your ideas and become more committed to your work.
5. Focus on developing trust.
Last but not least, effective communication cannot exist without developing trust between you and your team members. In Stephen Covey and Rebecca R. Merrill’s book “The Speed of Trust,” they define trust as the amount of confidence you have in someone. When you develop trust with your team members, they will feel confident in your abilities to accomplish the goals your share with them. In the absence of this level of trust, even if you have fully mastered the art of communication, your words will not have their desired effect.
Here are a few ways you can establish trust in your relationship with your team:
- Keep your word. This goes beyond just telling the truth. Even if you do not lie outright, but omit information, or speak in a way that lacks the entirety of the truth, may result in a lack of trust and/or will damage the trust you already have worked hard to establish with your team.
- Show how much you care and respect each of your team members. Their trust will increase naturally when they feel like you care about them and respect them.
- Be consistent with your actions. If your team finds that you are acting in a way that contradicts the words you delivered to them, it can permanently erode the trust that your team has for you and make communication and the ability to lead them very difficult.
As you master each of these key principles of communication, you will soon be well on your way to becoming a skilled communicator. In most cases, however, having a high-performance coach who holds you accountable and guides you step by step towards improving your communication and other leadership qualities is invaluable and will shorten the time it takes you to see massive results.