Stop Making These Communication Mistakes
And six ways to fix those mistakes.
Communication can be tough. It’s often hard to communicate important or difficult messages in a way that achieves the desired result.
Leaders often inadvertently use communication that scares people off, turns them off, or pisses them off.
Don’t let this be you!
Are you making any of these common communication mistakes?
Overusing fear as a motivator—A small amount of fear is actually a helpful edge to have, such as the natural fear of the consequences of not meeting a goal or deadline. But leaders sometimes make the mistake of using too much fear, which causes people to freeze up, and can even cause apathy or despair.
Focusing overly on failures—When a leader talks about current or past failures, this almost invariably starts the blame game. When everybody is pointing fingers, communication is stifled because people fear the finger will be pointed at them.
Talking only about what matters to you—When leaders talk only about their concerns, for example market share or stock prices, and not about the things that matter to their people, they see that you don’t care about them.
Using too much corporate jargon—When you use too much corporate speak, you alienate your listeners because it doesn’t have as much meaning to them. This type of communication often seems inauthentic.
Doing it all digitally—Digital communication is a necessity in the modern workplace, but doing all of your communication this way eliminates personal connection, which makes your message less relevant and easier to ignore.
Compelling communication is important and ultimately effective! When leaders focus on moving the hearts and the minds of their teams, they will see amazing results. One of the hardest parts of compelling communication is finding authentic reasons that your audience should care. It takes some thought!
Here are six ways to improve your communication:
Focus on a common goal—Find something that both you and the audience care about. This part takes some real work. In fact, it may take conversations with people in advance to help you frame the common goal so that it appeals to everyone involved.
Build on successes—This communication strategy builds confidence with people by reminding them of past successes that can help them accomplish the task ahead. It also reminds people of the practices, attitudes and ideas that you want to see them use again.
Define what’s in it for them—You need to find out how what you’re trying to convey will be useful to the people you’re talking to. It’s okay to draw parallels to some of your own goals, but only mention them after you’ve laid the groundwork for why your audience should care.
Stay positive and give hope—Communication should focus mostly on what you are trying to accomplish. It’s okay to mention the challenges and obstacles, but not in a way that makes the entire message about fear. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Leadership is about telling people where to go and giving them hope that they can get there.”
Use their language—You will be much more successful as a communicator if you relate to your audience on their terms and in their words. Audiences respond to messages that feel tailored to them and that meet them where they are at.
Be there in person—By far the most effective way to communicate important messages is in person. This isn’t always possible; in these cases, a medium such as video is a great option so that your audience can see your facial expressions and read your body language.
One of the most important aspects of compelling communication is that it takes you from the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule: Focusing on what your audience needs instead of centering on what you want. And isn’t that where we all want to be anyway?
Chief Energizing Officer at matchbox group (link to http://matchboxgroup.com), Bob Faw is an author, keynote speaker, and positive change consultant. He specializes in motivation and leadership development.