3 Communication Techniques to Accelerate Your Organization's Effectiveness
There is not a single book on business leadership that won’t illustrate effective communication techniques to be as essential for business success as oxygen is for us to breathe. Modifying body language, increasing use of positive and encouraging words and being authentic and empathetic when you listen are just some prescriptions. But there is no point even looking at these if you don’t already have a good assessment of how well your current communication tactics actually work.
Consider how you communicate intentionally and unintentionally. Start observing how others respond or react to you. Then, thoughtfully modify what you do.
All successful communicators, in effective teams, are conscious communicators. Serial entrepreneurs are just that because they invest time, effort and money in learning how to be great at giving and receiving purposeful, valuable and inspiring messages. In fact, it’s unlikely you’ll find any effective team exists without these three communication techniques humming along nicely.
1. Listen empathetically before choosing to respond.
Seeking to understand first, before being understood, demonstrates you value others’ insights and perspectives above your own. Invite your team to help you understand the rationale behind their decisions and behavior. In tense situations, be extra considerate of how you create space which allows them to feel safe to share.
The following three-step process can be particularly powerful when difficult conversations need to be had:
Listen and acknowledge.
How do we see what happened and what experience (good or bad) are we are having as a result? Without judgment or criticism, purposefully recognize and welcome expressions of concerns, frustration and stress as well as satisfaction, excitement and elation. You greatly benefit from intimately learning about the value systems individual team members operate from -- what upsets them, what drives them, what shakes them off course.
Research shows significant benefits to this approach. People will work harder and smarter for you because you demonstrate acceptance that they’re human. They respect and trust you more, and your future influence becomes stronger with less effort.
Invite feedback, collaborate and make plans.
You don’t want the first step to be read as a green light for emotional purging and verbal diarrhea. That’s a sure way to energetically derail all parties and send motivation and productivity backward. You need to actively direct focus to corrective courses of action or explore how to capitalize further on a good result.
Invite everyone to provide their two cents. Those apt to complaining, but not constructively contributing, will lose popularity quickly. This actually creates a golden opportunity promoting everyone to elevate standards of how they communicate. For every complaint, set a boundary that a person needs to offer a potential solution. Artfully and diplomatically, you’re challenging your team to step up.
Agree on a course of action.
Aim for a commitment to positive change of some sort by the end of the exchange. It might be as simple as “Next time that client asks to delay payment yet again, I am going respond this way.” By steering your people to have forward and committal thinking that moves them toward not just feeling, but behaving in more effective ways, you’re driving a philosophy of productivity, not just busyness.
Whatever the conversation, encourage your team to create and set their own commitment to action. Doing so drives accountability and effective self-management. Their commitment doesn’t have to be a change or remedy. It might simply be to keep being the cheerleader for themselves or someone else in their team.
2. Be brave, and name the elephant in the room.
You don’t have to be a designated leader to tread where others fear to tread. When you express grievances and air questions others fear to voice, you disintegrate everyone’s dreaded nightmare of public humiliation and embarrassment in asking the dumb question. You can almost hear certain team members breathe a sigh of relief. Potential errors are side-stepped, and inactivity spurred from lack of understanding is eliminated.
Calling a spade a spade in public when results are under par needs to be void of laying direct blame on specific parties. Also, leave individual performance to be addressed in private discussions.
Regardless of whether you’re the CEO, a senior executive manager or lower level employee, use language and vocabulary your people understand. Take perspectives that are neutral of bias and prejudice but show that you’re "one of them." You’ll inspire your people to work better for and with you.
3. Manage your energy and body language.
When you master and demonstrate you can adapt and regulate any communication delivery to suit the context you’re in, your team will start responding to you differently. The energy of your exchange matters.
Expect to be met with resistance if your tone is curt when it doesn’t need to be. Choose your words wisely, not just verbally, but also in writing. Believe it or not, we can offend and send death stares through the power of the written word even though that was never our intention.
Meet a barrage with calmness. Give your full presence and grant interruption-free time, and it will be difficult for the other party to continue their verbal onslaught. Loosen tension in your body. Let your posture become soft. Move slower and speak with lower gentler tones. The disparity between your different energies will become increasingly awkward. Your aggressor will willingly surrender.
Conversely, sharp tones can be apt to assert clear, non-negotiable boundaries when there’s no laughing matter. Pauses demonstrate respect and create a clear space to think about an issue carefully.
Don’t just consider crafting your communication but the likely responses of who’s receiving it. Tuning your energy accordingly will set the stage for productive conversations and accelerate you and your team’s abilities to get on with business.