Successful communicators don’t just do things differently. They are fundamentally different as a whole, exhibiting confidence, integrity, empathy, and patience, along with the necessary interpersonal, negotiation, and conflict resolution expertise to develop trust and respect with those around them.
Not only are they leaders in business, but they’re true influencers.
“After all – leadership, distilled to its essence, is the pursuit of more productive, higher performance interactions,” says Douglas Conant, Chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute. ”Leaders who find the best ways to communicate moment to moment are finding that those moments will translate tangibly to ensuring high performance relationships in the marketplace.”
Whether it’s with an individual or a large group, the best communicators take a different approach to making a connection. Here are 9 things they do that stand out.
1. They always connect on an individual level
Leaders typically have to work with groups and address them at the same level. Successful communicators develop a sense of intimacy that makes it feel like they’re connecting with each person in the room – as if they’re speaking directly to them.
There’s no special trick, they just know that in order to achieve that connection they have to be emotionally genuine. They evoke the same feelings, energy, and personal attention with a crowd that they would if they were meeting with a single individual. Mastering this at the level of a group makes it that much easier when connecting with a single person.
2. They speak with the intent to engage
A good communicator doesn’t run off at the mouth, trying to say everything that needs to be said. This is an ineffective way to engage people, and it never leads to meaningful dialogue.
While the temptation to drive a point home exists for everyone, great communicators know how to resist that urge.
They can read their audience and the conversation to adjust their message so people will listen. They’re dialed in to what people are ready to hear and how they’re ready to hear it. This is often evident when you see a riveted audience that is asking good follow-up questions. That means the communicator is on the right track.
3. They know when it’s time to be silent
The most effective communicators know that communication is not a one-way street. Any time you’re communicating, you need to provide plenty of opportunity for your audience to speak.
Remaining silent and listening is about more than just giving the other party the chance to speak. It’s about listening to tone, speed, volume, and what is being said. It’s also about recognizing what isn’t being said. There are a multitude of cues in every conversation that can be missed with even the slightest distraction.
4. They form relationships on emotional connections
A boss can communicate goals to a team and drive the workflow. A leader can communicate the needs of a company. But a strong communicator knows that the best results come from creating an emotional connection. People work harder, listen more intently, and are driven to achieve success when there’s more personal connection.
A common mistake managers and business owners make is to feel the need to wear an “executive persona.” That prevents a strong connection from being made. Great communicators are transparent and make a great deal of effort to be human. They are driven by their passions, and those who work around them know what they care about and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
You spend so many hours of your waking day immersed in, thinking about, and preparing for work. You should bring passion and drive with you that befits the role it plays in your life. Let it shine through in your communication to connect more closely with those you work with.
Seth Godin says it best: “I think the most productive thing to do during times of change is to be your best self, not the best version of someone else.”
5. They watch and respond to body language
Any successful leader recognizes that being in a position of authority makes it difficult for the people around them to be candid. Even the most effective communicators don’t have the same relationship with employees that those employees have with their peers in terms of how open they are.
That is why they learn to read and respond to body language – the unspoken messages that are passed in conversations. Body language holds the greatest wealth of information as the body communicates nonstop – even subconsciously – and is an abundant source of information.
According to UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, 55% of the messages people convey come from body language.
This is how great communicators appear to be intuitive and in sync with their teams. They know how to read body language to uncover facts and opinions that employees aren’t willing to express directly.
6. They don’t prepare speeches and scripts
I think it’s safe to say that most of us have had mock conversations run through our minds as we prepare to discuss something with another individual or a group. You try to nail the points you want to make and prepare for counter arguments.
Great communicators take a different approach.
They still prepare, but not in a scripted format. They develop an understanding of the focus of a conversation or topic. This way they can craft their message in a way that people will hear it, instead of trying to memorize and regurgitate words.
7. They communicate with brevity, not jargon
The most effective communicators take cues from Seth Godin’s playbook. He is a master of communication, with blog posts coming in regularly at fewer than 200 words. Like Godin, effective communicators say what needs to be said in the most concise and direct manner. The odds of miscommunication are high when you beat around the bush and fluff up a discussion with corporate jargon.
Using jargon just makes you sound insincere.
8. They simplify the complex
Some messages can be complicated, confusing, or completely muddled. The best communicators overcome those barriers and clarify those messages for an audience. Think of it from a teaching perspective: the best teachers can take a complicated topic and present it in a way that an entire classroom of students can digest and understand.
“Communication makes the world go round,” says Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. “It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow and progress. It’s not just about speaking or reading, but understanding what is being said – and in some cases what is not being said.”
Rather than regurgitating information or passing off a message to the next group, an effective communicator treats complexities like puzzles to be solved before handing them off. They take the time to understand the message, restructuring it to match the audience. This ensures that every person who receives that message can take action and execute.
9. They make themselves available
The best communicators don’t hide behind closed doors. They recognize that open doors are how organizations grow and how employees thrive. Great communicators make themselves available. They provide answers and don’t leave employees and peers hanging; they’re never the boss who has no time to explain assignments. The best communicators lead full and complete discussions and try to leave everyone satisfied.
Do you have any tips on being a better communicator? Share in the comments below: