You can learn a lot from Lego and how kids play with it. Last week I watched a roomful of youngsters pair up to build a motorized Lego creation. After about 20 minutes, all but two of them were playing with their finished products. When one child started to lose interest and become less engaged, the others took more leadership without actually taking over. They encourage her to focus as they were nearly done and felt that they could do this. That supportive, encouraging approach worked! Following much collaborative trial-and-error, the youngsters celebrated their Lego robot in action.
What this demonstrated is that communication is more than just the transfer of information. It is also the transfer of emotion, which is a tool that helps to cultivate and influence others.
Consider Principles, Not Formulas
When people are leading projects in a toxic environment it certainly makes it more difficult to achieve their goals. That is when effective relational and communication skills become increasingly important as these leaders must work to cultivate and influence, whether they are negotiating for more resources, supporting and encouraging for better results, or adding more staff to the team.
Leaders definitely set the tone for their teams. Therefore the manner in which you communicate can either strengthen or weaken the connections necessary to achieve your goals and get great results.
However, just following a formulaic approach doesn’t usually make sense or actually work. Because we are all unique, relationships are far too complex to manage “by the book.” Rather a leader needs insights into each of the team members in order to know just how to communicate, support, and help them to be the best they can be.
Here are some proven leadership communication principles that can help you to achieve the results you seek.
1. 93% of your message is nonverbal. In other words, the verbal part of your message in any sort of emotional exchange is only 7%. The 93% is your tone of voice, the volume of your voice, your body language, your stance, and your facial expression. If they do not match and support your verbal message, they will obliterate it. Therefore, you must be very aware of how what you are saying is being perceived by the listener/s and make sure that you are respectful, persuasive, impactful, influential, clear and honest. If you do that, you will have a much better chance of creating a positive work environment rather than a hostile one.
Simple actions like smiling, holding a door open, or looking directly at a person while speaking to them can set a higher standard for interpersonal relationships. It is up to the leader to set the behaviour examples by modelling them and if you do, then you will have a much better chance that your team members will espouse similar courteous and positive behaviours and communication styles. This will occur if you foster self-efficiency, autonomy, creative problem-solving approaches and support in any way that will help them to be the best they can be. When that happens, everyone wins!
3. Two Ears/One Mouth: Use Accordingly.
Mother Nature has sent us a very strong message, we have two ears and one mouth which indicates that we should listen twice as much as we speak. You cannot listen or learn anything when you are speaking so if you wish to learn more about your colleagues, you need to practice
Active Listening. In other words, effective communication is more about listening than speaking. So, if you as the leader are going to be successful in cultivating relationships, influencing and impacting others, maintaining a positive environment and helping your team to meet their goals and perform well, you will need to employ Effective Communication skills starting with Active Listening. One of the best ways to demonstrate this is to respect different perspectives and to encourage your team members to offer suggestions and ideas. Even conduct discussions where this is how issues are dealt with and solutions are arrived at.
4. Words Affect Results.
Positive communication usually fosters a positive and productive culture that yields the results that everyone wants. Often leaders have to spend time dealing with problems and many are relational. That means that they need to be consistent, fair and open-minded. Sometimes it will require keeping gossip at bay, resolving small disputes before they turn into major ones, and supporting your team so that they will be productive, efficient, collaborative in their approaches and creative in their work. This requires sensitivity, tact and pragmatism, all in a positive manner. Constructive criticism offered in a supportive and encouraging manner is usually well received.
If you espouse positive, effective communication with an honest, clear, impactful approach, you will be able to build a great culture in your workplace and establish meaningful, long-lasting relationships which will benefit everyone.