Words are powerful tools, and what you say really matters. If you say something in the wrong way this can quickly become a problem in the workplace. This is even more critical for a company’s decision-makers. Leaders should be held to a higher standard when communicating to their teams.
Their words can make or break a person.
John Maxwell, a leadership authority, states, “good communicators understand the importance of the right words.” Author and former US Navy captain David Marquet believed so strongly in the importance of using the right words he wrote an excellent book called Leadership is Language – The Hidden Power of What you Say and What you Don’t Say. In it, David outlines a set of principles and tools that help leaders inspire their people to take responsibility and address challenges without waiting to be told what to do, highlighting how small changes in language can lead to dramatic changes in a team’s success and happiness.
The choice of our words, our actions, our body language and our silence have a big impact on the people we lead and interact with. So, what can we do to improve our chances of impacting in the right way?
5 ways to create stronger communication within your team:
Be compelling. In order to motivate or persuade an audience, you must compel them to not only listen to you, but also do something as a result of hearing your message. Aristotle identified the Three Means of Persuasion needed for a speaker to influence an audience: ethos (appearing sincere and honest), logos (being believable and credible) and pathos (displaying passion and emotion). These are still relevant today. As a leader, you can captivate and engage others by clearly demonstrating value and then fuelling your delivery with passion and purpose.
Be clear. Clarity is essential for understanding. If your message is unclear, you will confuse your audience and will not get what you want. This happens all the time in meetings. According to one study, 46% of people leave meetings without a clear understanding of what to do with the information discussed. Meetings are not about talking, they are about creating decisions, action items or consensuses that can move a company or initiative forward. Any message you deliver, whether in a presentation or on a conference call, should address the wants and needs of your audience by providing a clear benefit or establishing an action item.
Be concise. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address consisted of 272 words and lasted less than three minutes — a virtual master class in brevity. Today, the average manager spends 35-50% of their time in meetings. That is a lot, so don’t waste people’s time by being unprepared or rambling on once your point has been made. Whenever possible, say less. The longer you go on talking, the more likely you are to repeat yourself, contradict a previous point, or say something you regret. And just because your meeting is scheduled for an hour doesn’t mean you can’t end it early if all agenda items have been covered. Every moment of your meeting or presentation should resonate with impact and provide value to those in attendance.
Be credible. Credibility in communication correlates directly to another essential aspect of influence: trust. Trust is the currency by which you do business. If your client or employee does not find you credible, they won’t trust you, and it will be harder to influence them with your message. Credibility for a communicator extends not only to what you say, but also how you say it. Vocal delivery matters. To maximize message impact, avoid verbal viruses (uhs and ums), hedging language (weak phrases such as “kind of” and “sort of”) and the use of “alternative facts.”
Be confident. We instinctually look for this thing called presence in our leaders. We are drawn to people who are comfortable in their own skin. If you are not confident in the message you are delivering, why should anyone else be? A speaker who is visibly nervous can distract an audience or make them feel uncomfortable. Utilizing open, relaxed body language will project strength and steadiness to a boss, subordinate or client. Expansive, specific gestures will help you underscore your message and drive home important points, while eye contact that is consistent (but not constant) will allow you to connect with your audience to build trust and rapport.
We reached to our L&D contacts for further insights into the importance of good communication, and received some insightful responses as below:
The keys to communication are authenticity and consistency. Being yourself shows confidence and conviction. It also models the behaviour for your team, which drives connection. Connection = Empathy. Sean Speake, Boundary booster, Mental Health advocate, Learning Pro at BMO Financial Group.
Through the pillars of confidence, conviction, and connection, we build bridges of open communication, empowering our team to unleash their potential and achieve greatness together. Carla A. Tavares, Inspirational leader, developing talent while helping businesses grow at Tik Tok
Respect. Respect. Respect. No matter the level in the internal caste system of an organization, everyone deserves respect. If everyone is respected, this instils loyalty within an organization, which then permeates externally. Tammy Snook Quezada, Head of Thought Leadership Marketing at Cisco
Creating stronger communication lines with your team is critical. There is no impact without contact. The key to communicating with confidence, conviction and connection is the sincere belief that you cannot succeed without them, and they have clarity in the job to be done, and their role in this endeavour. Todd Billingsley, L&D Director
It’s not the big things, but micro moments that matter in communication. They enhance connection. Once connection is established, a leader’s conviction and confidence drawn from their experience can establish trust-based channels of communication. Gurpreet Kalra FLPI Head, Talent Development for Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, UK and Ireland
And finally… a word or two from Colin Hunter, CEO of PotentialSquared:
“Words are so important for leaders to reflect on and practice using to measure their impact. We at PotentialSquared with our actors, create playgrounds for leaders to practice different approaches in how they say things and importantly what they say. It is rare to have a safe space to make mistakes and learn. In today’s world where one written or spoken word can make a dramatic difference it is important we create space for us to safely experiment.”
Get in touch to discover how PotentialSquared can help build the confidence, conviction and connection of your leaders.