Leadership for Life – Communication for Life

By on April 1, 2013
Communication for Life

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me, “What makes a great communicator?” I’d be able to buy a Cadillac. OK, maybe a Toyota Corolla. Anyway, the question comes up a lot. Anyway, who cares if you’re a great communicator?

If you’re going to be an effective leader, much less a great one, you need to be a great communicator. All the great strategies won’t mean a thing if you can’t communicate them effectively. So, here are some tips, not only on how to deliver your message, but to improve the chances of others acting on that message.

  1. Be credible. That means you should know what you’re talking about, and have people believe you know what you’re talking about. That might mean having some research data to back up your message. It could also mean that you’re talking about something they’re familiar with, and that you show evidence of being equally familiar – or even expert – on the topic. You can also do this by quoting recognized experts.
  2. Be prepared to share both facts and feelings. If you know what you’re talking about, you can probably spew forth innumerable facts about the topic or issue. Sharing your feelings about the topic or issue helps build trust in your audience and makes them more inclined to follow your lead or allow themselves to be convinced about your point of view. Not talking about being all touchy-feely here. Mainly I’m referring to relevant feelings about the issue being discussed – concern, optimism, etc.
  3. Be congruent with your body language. If you’re talking about a serious issue, that’s not a good time to be smiling or giggling your way through the presentation. Your facial expressions should fit the topic, your voice should reflect your excitement or concern, you should be making eye contact with your audience. In our culture, eye contact generally is interpreted as openness and honesty. Be aware that if you’re trying to communicate with people from another culture, eye contact might be interpreted as rude or aggressive.
  4. Ask open questions. Avoid asking questions that require only a simple yes or no response. Open questions generally begin with how, why, when, who, or what. Responding to an open question requires thought and amplification, which can lead to more meaningful discussion.
  5. Be a good listener. That means being able to respond to both facts and feelings. Paraphrasing is an important tool for listening, since it ensures that you’re not misinterpreting what the other person is saying.

These are not the definitive rules on communication, but if you master them, you’re way ahead of most others. And speaking of communication, I’d love to hear from you. Call or write: 314-539-5329; bschapiro@stlcc.edu.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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