Leaders have a unique opportunity; the power to make a positive difference to each individual in their team, and at the same time, create a knock-on positive effect through them to everyone they subsequently deal with. But only if the communication is done in the correct manner. Read on to discover what this is.
First, some essential information – vital if you want to be respected by your team; people sometimes say things in a way or at a time that makes others feel worthless or resentful and powerful messages often lose their impact because the recipient focuses on the bad delivery rather than on the real issue.
Think back to those times when you’ve been on the receiving end of some difficult feedback or comments. Can you remember what it was about those moments that made you feel able to hear the feedback and do something constructive vs something destructive? I’ll bet the difference between the two outcomes was simply down to how the person giving you the feedback spoke and behaved in that moment.
So, here are my principles for correct communication:
- Always treat people with respect. Whatever they have done or failed to do, treating them as if they are idiots will get you nowhere in the long run.
- Always aim to create good rapport with the individuals in your team. When you need to give hard messages, you will find this investment really pays huge dividends.
- Public humiliation is never appropriate (however tempting it may be). You risk making an enemy, you will be seen as a bully and your reputation will be damaged far more than you may ever realise.
- Stop to consider why you are so angry, irritated or let down. The intensity of our own emotion is often more about us than it is about the particular incident we are dealing with. If you have a difficult message to deliver, remember to focus on the learning you want to come out of it rather than how bad it has made you look.
- Never fight fire with fire. If you are angry or upset it is much better to walk away and deal with it once you are in full control of yourself.
- Plan what you want to say and why. Things said on the spur of the moment (or indeed in the heat of the moment) often leave you with even greater problems for later. The more significant the issue the greater the need to plan.
- Choose an appropriate place and time – it goes without saying that you shouldn’t tell somebody about their selection for redundancy in the corridor next to the coffee machine!
- Consider the tone of voice you use. Shouting, being dictatorial, and nagging all have a negative impact on the listener. Negative voices often bring up past issues and carry a punch which is likely to be disproportionate to the present moment’s conversation.
- Challenge the unwanted behaviour rather than the person themselves. That way the person can know it is about a single issue which can be fixed by choosing different behaviours the next time around – a far easier lesson to learn than if they’re told they themselves, wholly, are wrong.
- Never burn your bridges – it is a long walk round. Try to look for a way forward that can be decided upon or involve the other person too. Creating a win- win solution wherever possible is always going to be better, even if it involves greater effort to begin with.
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