My clients come to me to help them breakthrough that next-level leadership position in their career ladders. Through our coaching sessions, we inevitably land on the topic of communication.
One recurring theme I often find is the notion that by focusing on written or oral communication techniques, they will have the communication piece “covered”. However, It’s the non-verbal forms of communication, such as body language, listening and our attitudes (how others perceive you) is that make you stand apart from the crowd.
Success in leadership often requires mastering various forms of communication, especially those that are more nuanced.
So what are three effective communication techniques that will help you succeed as a leader?
1. Understanding your audience and tailoring your communication to them.
Effective communication means you understand what makes your audience tick. Some will call it your “target market” while others like to use the phrase “buyer persona.” Others call it “individualization.”
Regardless of what you call it, effective communication is tailored to your audience. It understands their wants, needs, desires, aspirations, personalities, and decision-making style. The key to being effective means that you understand the unique aspects of whom you’re communicating with and then tailor your communication to influence their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Below are some key audiences:
The organization as a whole
Other senior executives
As a general rule of thumb I like to recommend keeping in mind these 5 Cs of communication which are:
Clarity: Be clear on What is the message is
Concise: Take any bluff off- get to the point and be prepared
Confident: More of that below.
Credible: Know what you are talking about so you can influence
Compelling: Compel to listen and take action
2. Listen beyond the words spoken.
A wise man once said it’s better to listen than to speak. Who was that wise man? I honestly don’t know, but you could probably find a dozen different authors who have said the exact same thing.
Effective communicators know how to listen. On the surface, this might sound counterintuitive. Communicators express ideas whereas listeners are sponges. How is it then that listening makes you a better communicator?
First, body language. Have you ever spoken with your supervisor, only to have them watch their phone or computer screen the entire time? They are communicating to you whether they realize it or not: they’re saying you’re not as important as the thing they’re working on.
Second, you can’t help someone if you don’t hear them. Let’s say, for example, that one of the people you manage comes to you with a co-worker problem. Your initial solution may be distinctly different if you take the time to listen to what is actually being said.
Finally, effective communicators know how to listen through the subtext layers. A person who has a problem with time management may come to you asking for a deadline extension. Is the problem that they need more time, or is it the real problem that they don’t know how to manage themselves? Listen for context clues which can then, in turn, help you communicate the proper solution.
3. Be authentic and confident in all you do.
Authenticity is a popular buzzword these days. I’m sure if you asked a dozen different leaders what it means to them, you’d get a dozen different answers.
To me, authenticity relates to assertive communication. Assertive communication means expressing your point of view in a way that is clear and direct, while still respecting others. It’s not aggressive; rather, it’s clarifying. It doesn’t hide behind facades. Rather, it presents your needs, feeling, and intentions in a way that can be clearly presented and thus more authentic and closer to representing who you really are.
When the person you’re interacting with sees you for who you truly are, it helps build respect. This can be incredibly useful when you’re the minority in a group.
Building on this, confident communication is similar to authenticity. When you’re confident, there’s no mask to hide behind. Your audience will feel your confidence which gives you credibility.
Where confident communication differs from authenticity is that you overcome the mental barriers that have been holding you back. As you embrace it, your confidence grows. As your confidence grows, your willingness to take additional (sometimes risky) steps towards career success increases.
To put it another way, authenticity demonstrates who you are. Confidence embraces why you’re a successful professional and prepares you for the next step. When you use both authentic and confident communication as a person of color, it builds self-empowerment and direction. Together, they’ll help you achieve continued career growth success.
Mastering these 3 effective communication techniques will make you a successful leader
Let me be candid with you, there is no magic bullet when it comes to improving your communication. Rather, you have to employ multiple techniques. Understanding your audience will help you craft a message that speaks directly to them. The more you learn to listen, the more effective you are as a leader. And when you embrace both authenticity as well as confidence, it sets the stage for even more career success.
It’s an ongoing process and one that I would love to help you with as you build towards greater career success. Contact me today here to schedule a time to chat, I'll love to tell you more about my exclusive "Elevate and Own your Voice™️" program and how it can help you achieve those career goals.