Communication is at the heart of business and it’s this that can differentiate you from the competition. But how can you use this vital skill to become a better leader?
Saying the right thing every time isn't easy – we would all love some kind of magical mechanism that creates just the perfect sentence for each individual we speak to. I, for one, would appreciate that. However, since such a thing doesn't exist (yet) we must work on our communication skills every day.
When you’re a leader, it's even more important. Your words are your key to your success as a boss. And even though there isn't a single formula on communication success, there are, however, some general guidelines that could help you become an even better leader.
Being a boss doesn't mean that you always have to be the one who’s speaking. You have to be a good listener.
When in a meeting, don't try to dominate it – let your team members speak and really listen to what they have to say. The same goes for individual communication. First listen to everything they have say before replying. You'll be amazed by how much you can learn about your employees.
Listening to employees is also a great opportunity to get new ideas. They’re the ones with a hands-on approach to the job and will know what should be changed. This doesn't mean that you have to do everything they say, but you need to hear them out.
Maintaining an open door – and an open mind – policy is a good idea. Your team will be motivated and they'll respect you more as a leader.
2. Communicate in simple words
Effective communication doesn't mean that you have to use all the words in the dictionary. However, you do need to make sure your employees have understood what you had to say. Stay away from using jargon or overly complicated words. Talk to them like you would talk to a friend who has no understanding of your work. That way, your communication will be effective and you won't lose their attention after the first sentence.
The same goes for emails. Business emails are often packed with jargon but we need to realize that it's not a requirement of good business communication. Simplicity and clarity lead to effective and good communication.
3. Don't criticize
As a boss, you have to let your employees know when they are doing something wrong. That's half of your job. But, knowing how to criticize is an art – you have to learn to do it in a way that won't make them frustrated or angry that you only notice their failures. Really, they shouldn't feel like you are criticizing them at all, but instead helping them learn and improve.
Stay away from negative words – for instance:
'You performed excellently in this area but this area still needs improvement'
This may seem like a good way to talk to your team. However, it's not. 'But' is a negative word. It makes it seem like all you notice are their faults.
'You did an excellent job in this area, now let's see how we can be just as amazing in this one too. You can do it.'
This is a far better way to let them know that they still need improvement.
"The first sentence is focused on the negative – it'll make them defensive of their work and you will not be able to do anything to motivate them. The second sentence is positive and it will show them how much you appreciate their work – they will be motivated and they'll probably do better in figuring out why that one area isn't so good.” - Isabel Babin, Communication manager at EliteAssignmentHelp
4. Avoid arguments
Leaders often find themselves in situations where they have to argue. Some would say it's inevitable. However, you should always do your best to avoid arguments. You don't want to be perceived as someone who yells and screams at their team – this will deteriorate trust.
For instance, when someone comes to you saying that they made a mistake, surely you'll be frustrated and disappointed – you might even want to argue with them. However, it would be much better if you decide to, instead, talk calmly with them, see what lead to that mistake and find a solution as to how to fix it. People get defensive in arguments and that doesn't lead to anything. Do the same thing when there is an argument in your team – calm the situation down and work towards a solution.
5. Lead by example
One of the worst things that you can do as a leader is tell your employees that they have to act, talk or work in a certain way and then do the opposite yourself. This only demonstrates that you are abusing your power and them.
What you do is an important part of your communication. If you really want them to listen to you, show them that you are following the rules and doing your best yourself. For instance, if the rule you stated in your workplace is to wash your own cups after you are done drinking your coffee, it wouldn't look good if you left yours in the sink. Instead, lead by example and wash up your own cup – if the boss is doing it, why wouldn't they?