Communication is at the core of our existence. Whether we know it or not, we are all communicating with others all the time – be it through words or through our body language. As a social animal, we cannot survive without communicating with other. Why do you think solitary confinement is one of the most stringent punishments in prison? So the first thing to acknowledge is that you can communicate. Don’t ever say or think that you cannot communicate, you will only pull yourself down.
The quality of your communication determines whether you get what you want or not. If you find yourself in situations where people just don’t get what you are saying, it is time to reflect and understand where the communication is not going right –
It is important to know where you may be getting stuck so that you can improve the quality of your communication and achieve your objectives. The top 5 tips to enhance the quality of your communication with others are as follows:
It is important to use the appropriate words in our sentences to get our ideas across. If we do not have a strong vocabulary, we will struggle to express our ideas clearly and succinctly. If we have to use a lot of simple words to get across one idea which could have been expressed better with one appropriate word, we run the risk of the listener losing interest in what we have to say or worse our ideas get buried under a bunch of random words. So it is important to have a large active vocabulary, i.e., words that we can actually use while speaking and writing.
Everyone has a much larger passive vocabulary than an active one, and that is perfectly alright. However, if you make efforts to listen to how more advanced or difficult words are used by others and try to use it in your communication, you will develop your active vocabulary and then not be at loss of words. Focus on the type of words you will actually use or that are used actively in your industry.
People have very short attention spans and they don’t like to listen to someone who rambles on without any clear purpose. So before you can engage anyone in a conversation, it is important that you are clear about your own thoughts and ideas. When you have that clarity of thought, you will be able to structure your message better.
It is important to be clear on what is it that you are trying to achieve while talking to someone so that you can guide the discussion towards getting that end objective. This does not mean that you show no interest in the person you are talking to. You objective could very well be to get to know the person better and understand what their challenges are so that you can then see how you can help them. At times we make the assumption that the listener knows what we want and will do the needful without us actually specifically asking for it. This approach may not get you the desired outcome. The better approach is to have a clear ‘call to action’ so that the listener knows what you expect or want them to do.
Has this happened to you – you are sitting with a group of people and when you try to say something, you realize that no one is listening and then you just stop talking. Believe me, it happens to almost everybody. The important thing is to not give up and start believing that no one wants to listen to me. You have to make an effort to grab the attention of the listeners and say what you have to say. There are many ways of doing it. You can interject when there is a slight pause in the conversation or when one topic that was being discussed has reached its logical conclusion. You can use phrases like – “I want to add to that” or “I had a similar experience” or “Do you want to hear another perspective” or “I agree and ….” or something on these lines.
Another scenario very common these days is when you are trying to say something and the listener starts looking at their phone or doing something else. Before you can get your message across, you need to grab their attention.
If you want to engage with someone and have them listen to your ideas, you need to make sure it is interesting for the listener. You need to look at things from their perspective and present your ideas in a way that makes it meaningful for them. If the listener does not see anything of interest to them in what you have to say, they will eventually switch off and your efforts would be wasted. So it is better to understand your audience and tailor your content so as to make it about your audience and not about you. This simple strategy will see your quality of communication improve dramatically.
When you have confidence in yourself, it shows and it attracts others to you like a magnet. People want to get to know you and your self-confident attitude shows that you are worth their time and effort. A self-confident person also makes others feel better about themselves. People who lack confidence tend to avoid connecting with others, they avoid eye contact and project disinterest. This turns people off. For good conversation to take place, people need to make eye contact and need to show interest in each other. So to become a good conversationalist, work on building your self-confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you will be able to make others feel good about themselves.
Remember, a conversation is always a two–way street so both sides need to get to speak and should listen when the other person is talking. Being a good conversationalist is not only about speaking well but also about listening well. When you listen actively and understand the other person’s perspective, you will be able to present your ideas in a much more attractive manner.
SoaringEagles offers a range of courses on enhancing self-confidence and improving communication skills. There are also courses on public speaking and presentation skills. The courses help you to enhance your self-esteem and self-confidence, build better rapport, think more creatively and critically, and present your ideas with conviction and clarity. To find out more and benefit from our programs, click on the Request Consultation button above.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
To be truly listened to is an amazing experience, partly because it is so rare! When another person is totally with you – leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize – you feel seen and understood. When people feel that they are really being listened to, they open up more as they feel safe and secure and the trust between the parties grows.
Unfortunately, most people do not listen at a very deep level as they are preoccupied with the challenges of their fast-paced life. As a result, most conversations tend to skim on the surface.
The absence of real listening is especially prevalent at work. Under pressure to get the job done, we listen for the minimum of what we need to know so that we can move on to the next fire that needs fighting. So, what’s the consequence of this? Everyone is talking, no on is listening. As a result, employee engagement has become a serious issue in organisations today.
This is becoming a bigger problem in this COVID scenario as employees are dispersed and the conversations are very transactional and brief. Leaders seem to have become busier and more distracted in recent times.
How often are you as a leader distracted in a conversation or a meeting with your team? How often are you as a leader not psychologically present when you are virtually with your team? How often do you cancel, interrupt or shorten meetings with your people in favour of some other stakeholder, priority or task? How often do you make your people wait, ask, or even hope for your leadership? Ironically, now more than ever, leaders need to be deeply and continuously connected with their teams.
What your team needs right now is authentic and unequivocal leadership presence. So, turn off the noise in your head. Turn off the noise from your technology. Focus your mind and your time on the people you lead and they, in turn, will follow and support your leadership efforts.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to take the time to connect, to show that you care about your employees as people. Listening deeply will also help you understand what their challenges and expectations, and gives you a chance to share what your intentions and goals in a way that everyone can be aligned.
Listening is a skill that you can gain from training and practice. And who better to learn if from than coaches. Effective coaches tend to be gifted listeners and they hone their listening skills to reach a high level of proficiency. This enables us coaches to reach the inner recesses of your mind and help you get those deep insights.
In the book, Co-Active Coaching, Henry and Karen Kimsey-House explain the three levels of listening and how the art of listening can be cultivated.
Level 1 listening is an interaction where the primary focus of you as the listener is on your own thoughts, opinions, judgments, and feelings. You relate the words you hear to your own experiences or needs. For example, if we are buying a car, we will be listening at Level 1 to the salesperson to see how the car features will fit our needs and budget.
Level 2 listening takes the communication one step further. It involves paying attention to the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. As you filter out your internal chatter and distractions from the environment, you are able to tune in to the meaning of the words, choose a way to respond, and assess the effect of the response on the speaker.
Level 3 listening brings an entirely new state of awareness to the conversation. It involves doing everything at Level 2, plus using your intuition and being open to receiving more information in any form that it presents itself. If you get a hunch, for example, while listening to someone, you could bring it up without being attached to it. Without insisting on being right, observe the effect it has on the speaker and be aware of where the conversation goes next.
For instance, you may say: “I understand that you are happy with the results, but I have a feeling that you have something else on your mind.” The response may be, “No, not really,” or “Yes, actually, I wanted to tell you about this issue that came up with our project.” It is irrelevant if you are right or wrong; what is important is the effect on the conversation.
So, there you have it – why it is important for you as a leader to hone your listening skills and how you can enhance your depth of listening. The art of listening takes time to develop, but it can be practiced daily. It builds trust and understanding and contributes significantly to your effectiveness as a leader.
If you want to discuss further, just schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking this link above.
The latest articles and industry insights delivered to your inbox