Effective communication

Effective communication

Effective communication is critical for effective leadership. A leader should be able to share his vision, his knowledge and his ideas to his colleagues and subordinates and be able to create enthusiasm to others that will move them into action. As a leader if you can’t get your message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then you will be failing to communicate. Lee Lacocca, at one time an executive at Ford Motor Corporation said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” As a leader it’s critical that you develop your communication skills to be able to communicate effectively.

Effective communication is not about exchanging information only. It’s more than that. Your audience should be able to understand the emotion and intentions behind the information you are conveying. It is a two way process wherein you have the communicator and the listener. Your message should be received and understood by the recipient in exactly the way you intended. Effective communication goes further than just being mere words; it combines a number of skills; verbal and nonverbal communication, listening, managing stress, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.

All these are attributes of effective business communication. You have to invest your time and effort to develop these skills and become an effective spontaneous communicator. You will reap the benefits of having invested in developing good communication skills. To improve on your communication skills the first thing you need to do is to listen more and talk less. You should be more than just a listener; you need to be an engaged listener. When you are an engaged listener you do not only understand the words being communicated but you also understand the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate.

You will hear the subtle intonations in someone’s voice which naturally reveals how that person is feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. This will enable you to connect with the other person and in the process help you to build a stronger and deeper connection with the other party. An engaged listener focuses fully on the other party and this is displayed in his or her body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues. You should avoid any distractions such as thinking about other things or checking text messages on social media. You will fail to pick very important non-verbal cues that will alert you to certain emotional issues.

Communication is more than words. An effective communicator makes use of nonverbal communication and also pays close attention to nonverbal actions by the other party. Nonverbal communication or body language, includes such things as facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, the tone of one’s voice, muscle tension and breathing, the way one looks, listens, moves, and reacts to another person. All these tell more about how one is feeling than words alone ever can tell. Every leader should master these skills. You can’t speak with excitement through words only without expressing this through your face or bodily movements.

If you want to excite your team you need to convey the excitement by the way you are behaving; through your body movement. Developing the ability to understand and use nonverbal communication can help you, as a leader, connect with others, express what you really mean and build better relationships with your team and colleagues. Effective communication requires that you be assertive. Being assertive does not mean being hostile or aggressive but clearly expressing your thoughts, your feelings, and your needs openly and honestly and respecting others, but at the same time standing your ground.

You need to value your opinions because they are as important as anyone else’s. No one is going to defend your opinions other than yourself. You however also need to appreciate and respect others’ opinions and personal rights. But don’t let others take advantage of you. One big hindrance to effective communication can be our emotions. To communicate effectively, you need to be aware of and in control of your emotions. Know how to manage your stress. Emotions or stress can lead you to misread other people or send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals. Emotional outbursts at work will do you no good in helping to build good relationships. Sometimes you say something under emotion that you will regret.

If you feel stressed you should quickly relieve your stress and return to a calm state before you respond. It’s therefore very important as a leader to manage and control your emotions when you are communicating under pressure where you are required to think on your feet. You should also use humour in your communication. A sense of humour is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done. Lee J Colan said, “Successful leaders, successful communicators engage both the minds and the hearts of people.” Communicate so as to touch the hearts of people.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship. He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations. For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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