Good communication isn’t the only thing that makes a leader. But boy oh boy, bad communication can sure sink a leader.
Whether it’s writing, tweeting, texting, speaking, or eye contact, communicating honorably will always stand a leader in good stead.
Where there is a relationship, there is communication. And honorable communication starts with believing that the relationship matters.
- Write as if the relationship matters.
A former colleague sometimes responded to email inquiries with single-word email responses: “Yes.” “No.” “OK.” Clients and colleagues sometimes felt a bit put off, without quite knowing why. Yes, the question had been answered – but the response felt curt, impatient, possibly even grudging. As if they didn’t matter.What a missed opportunity! Every interaction, in person or electronic, is a chance to develop the relationship. No need for long, wordy, flowery messages/answers/explanations – but if you can’t even bother to compose a single complete sentence, is it any surprise if the other person feels dismissed?Consider: any written communication could be read in a way you don’t intend. Take a critical look at what you write: does it express to its readers that they matter to you?
- Speak as if the relationship matters. (It’s not only about you.)
Harvey Mackay said that the sweetest sound in the world is “the sound of your own name on someone else’s lips.” Mackay was talking about salesmanship, but the implications for leadership are right there. You honor people and draw them to you when you, the leader, make sure to notice, acknowledge, and listen to the input of others.And it’s not just words or subject choice. Your message changes infinitely as you change your tone of voice, volume, pace, context, timing, level of tension, attitude, gestures, stance, facial expression: all these and more can build up or tear down a relationship.
- Listen as if the relationship matters.
“You’re not listening to me!”Hoo boy, how many times have you heard that? Was it from your teenager? Your spouse? A sibling or a friend? Or maybe you were the one to say it – or feel it. People don’t just want to be heard – they want to be understood. Listened to. As if they matter. And when you listen, you may learn something.
When you as a leader listen to me with focused attention, and even a spirit of curiosity, you are letting me know that you believe I’ve got something to say. That you are not above learning something new. That I matter.
Respond as if the relationship matters.
Honorable communication includes responding honorably. “Thanks for taking the time to bring that up.” “I appreciate your perspective.”
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