As a leader, effective communication is probably your most important job. Heck, as a human being, communication should be close to the top of the list of things you need to be good at – along with breathing, eating, sleeping, procreating and waste disposal.
As a leader, we all know this. Yet… we all seem to struggle with it. Why Communicating seems simple enough and we continually screw it up.
Throughout this month, I am going to explore some of the reasons why effective communication seems to be so hard, and what we can do about it. Simple ideas. Simple models. Easy to put into action.
I often talk about the top leaders that I have been around in my life and what made them great. Despite coming from different upbringings, cultures, religions, education; whether they are tall, short, charismatic, introverted, black, white, brown, old, young, they all had one thing in common… They were great communicators. They possessed a nurtured ability to communicate (I say nurtured because I have yet to find one person on the planet that did not have to work at and master the craft of communication).
Communication, by definition, is the ability to share a thought with one or more people and have them arrive at the same understanding as you intended. In other words, the transmitter is able to convey a message so that the exact intent of the message is received.
The problem that I have discovered with poor communication is that we focus all of our efforts into being understood. Great communicators conversely, put a tremendous amount of effort into understanding.
So, lesson one this month is all about a paradigm shift to understanding versus being understood. Great communicators focus intensely on understanding. The outcome of this approach is the ability to build a higher level of trust with the person or people that you are attempting to communicate with. When there is a higher level of trust, you will discover intentions, feelings, beliefs, purpose, positions and ideas. With this discovery and higher levels of trust, you will be better equipped to deliver a message that will be understood.
The key is all about parking one’s agenda (and ego) and working really hard to understand. That means listening – not what most of us do when we think we are listening. Probing deeper. Taking a genuine interest in the other person and what they want you to hear. Did I mention this is really hard? Why is it so hard? Years and years of programming that in order to be understood, we have to be the one that is talking.
Start today (sooner if you can) and begin to shake the armor off your thinking about communication. Practice everywhere you are. You will discover deeper, happier personal relationships and more success.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
The audio version of Bob’s #1 best seller It’s Already Inside is now available on Audible.Business, Communication, Emotional Intelligence, It's Already Inside, Leadership, Robert Murray, Robert S. Murray