ENHANCE COMMUNICATION COMPETENCES
Communication is not just an expression – It is a two-way process that involves sending and receiving information. Information (or data that have been interpreted, analyzed, and have some meaning to some users) are inuenced by message quality, accuracy and clarity. The message is inuenced by the age of the sender and/or receiver, gender,values, beliefs, culture, experiences, needs etc.
Great Leaders are Great Communicators. Leaders are skilled in relationships and in influencing and overall communication. So, it gets labeled as soft skills but it’s really a hard business driver. And there’s hard science underneath it that we understand how it works.
Leaders communicate differently:
- Leaders communicate authentically
- Leaders know how to impact world around them
- Leaders use Concise Statements
- Leaders Can Speak Outside of Own Expertise
- Leaders Communicate Strategically
LEADERS COMMUNICATE DIFFERENTLY than the average individual contributor. We’re going to look at 5 ways how leaders communicate differently than the average employee or average member of an organization.
First, Leaders communicate authentically
Let’s start with nonverbal. When you see someone, what part of the body do you look at first? So, most people say eyes, face, or mouth. Some of them even shoes… but, when we first see someone, the first place we look is the hands. And this is left over from our caveman days. Because, if we were approached by a stranger caveman, the first place we looked were the hands to see if they were carrying a rock or a spear. We wanted to know if we were safe, if they were friends or enemies. When we can’t see someone’s hands, something interesting happens. So, I just did something a little mean to your brain. You should start to feel just a little bit uncomfortable. And the reason for that is when you can’t see my hands, you wonder, what is she doing back there? And then, the longer I leave my hands behind my back, you get more and more distracted because you can’t see them. And eventually your brain is screaming, can’t she just bring her hands off from behind her back? And the moment I bring them back out Aaaaaaaaaaa. It feels so much better. And this is because our brain knows that if we can’t see hands, we can’t see intention.
After analyzing thousands of hours of TED Talks, Vanessa Van Edwards and his colleagues found a pattern with a hand gesture. The most popular TED talkers use an average of 465 hand gestures in 18 minutes, and the least popular TED Talkers use an average of 272 hand gestures. Almost half. The best Communicators are showing you, “I know my content so well, that I can speak to you on two different tracks. I can speak to you with my words, but I can also explain my concept with my hands. And this way, they look more authentic. Authentic means in tune with the emotional state that you’re actually in. The leaders should communicate authentically. They underline their concept with their words. For example, if I were to say, “Today, I have a really big idea.” (pokazati malu ideju rukom). “It’s huge.” You laugh, and you are confused. And that is because your brain gives 12.5 time more weight to hand gestures. So today, I have a really, really big idea: leaders communicate differently!
Second, Leaders know how to impact the world around them
Research has shown that we affect others. If our emotions affect other, how do we make sure that we are influencing people with right ones? Leaders know that they can affect others nonverbally, with nonverbal expression. If I just start smiling a little more, you’re going to start smiling and we are going to start mirroring back and forth. And if I stop doing it, it will pull you a little that way.
What is interesting about facial expression is that they cause our emotions. So, not only do our emotions cause our face, but our face also causes our emotions. The more we smile, the happier we are. We have real happiness micro expression which occur when the smile reaches all the way up into upper cheek muscles. And this is very important. Because, when you tell a frenemy good news, It looks like this – “Oh yeah, I am so happy for you.” When you try to express fake smile, doesn’t feel so good. It feels inauthentic. If you go all the way up into your eyes. Smile all the way up to the upper cheek muscles. Ah, that one should feel so much better. What is interesting about this facial expression is it causes our own happiness. And we also catch it when we see it. Different Experiments has shown that persons with happiness micro expression are more likable. This is the happy side effect of having your confidence to influent others. Not only that you influence others with that happiness, you also become more likable. How do we influence people verbally? Vanessa Van Edwards and his colleagues conducted research to find out which patterns produced the highest quality of conversation that affect us physiologically. They found that the conversation starters that worked centered on dopamine. So, dopamine is the neurotransmitter that we produce when we feel pleasure or when we get a reward. Researcher found is that the worst ranked conversation starters, the ones that got the lowest ratings, the ones that produced the lowest volume, the ones that got the most leans away, worst head nods, worst micro expressions, those were the ones that we use the most. “What do you do?”” How are you?” “where are you from?” from a physiological perspective, have no effect. No pleasure. Researchers find conversation starters that could spark or create excitement. The ones that verbally trigger dopamine. Our brain is amazing. If you ask somebody a question, it tends to look for hits and not misses similarities. If you ask someone “been busy lately?” their brain immediately looks for all the hits of “Been busy”. They think about negative things that have happened – the stress, the business. Whereas if you ask someone, “Working on any exciting recently?” their brain immediately begins to look for all the hits of “excitement”. It starts to think about the good and happy things, all the excitement that’s going on in their own life. And that does two things. One, it creates pleasure for them. You are literally asking them to borrow excitement from other places in their life and bring it to the situation that you’re in. and the other thing that it does is it makes you more memorable.
So, here’s my challenge for today. Instead of using the typical
What do you do
Where are you from
How are you
Try… ones that ask the brain to look for hits of excitement.
Working anything exciting these days?
Have any vacations coming up?
Anything good happen today?
We are asking people to flip into optimism.
When we come to the verbal communication, leaders are concise. They figure out what they want to say, and they say it about one or two sentences. The advantage to this is that first it sounds confident. When you’re able to express yourself clearly it sounds like wow, they really know what they think.
The second advantage is that when they say something precise, it’s much more likely to land and people are able to understand it and then react to it positively.
The third, leaders can speak outside their own area of expertise. And they’re able to articulate the value of other areas of expertise. For example, let’s say they come out of an IT background that’s how they rose up. They’re able to look at operations, at accounting, at marketing, at engineering, HR and so forth and they’re able to say exactly what those other areas contribute. And that’s a powerful thing. Leaders are able to notice and learn about the other areas, and then even speak about the good value that those other areas contribute. And they are valuable. If they weren’t valuable, they wouldn’t be part of the organization.
The fourth, leaders communicate strategically – Bringing organizational vision into life, leaders inspire people and influence their behavior. This is a level above departments. So, they talk about the coordination between and among departments. They talk about strategy and how those different departments are moving in the same direction toward the same goals. Ill use a metaphor of a rock band. orchestra A little personal disclosure, I used to be in rock bands in high school and college. Oftentimes when you’re recording in the studio, you have a drummer. And that drummer wants the drums to be the loudest. And the guitar player wants the guitar to be the loudest. And the bass player wants the bass to be the loudest. That’s just natural because that’s their area of expertise. So what groups do is they bring in a producer who is there to help craft the overall song. Because the producer is going to listen to that song the way someone else might listen to it. Not the way a guitar player would listen to it or a drummer, but how the average person who’s listening to music will bring that in. and that’s what leaders do. They step above those individual departments they’re talking about the overall coordination of those different efforts.
After all, leaders are able to connect just about every single project or task that’s being done to the overall organization (business), to the overall enterprise, to the vision, mission and goals that the organization is trying to reach. So, it doesn’t matter what it is, they see how it moves the ball forward in a more general sense and they’re able to spell that out for you. They’re going to talk about that task in relation to the real goals that everybody in organization understands. They’re going to put in a plain language. If you are able to talk about the business not just your area now, you’re sounding like a leader
So those are five ways that leaders communicate differently than individual contributors. I hope that you see its is not just way of communicating and talking, but there is a mindset underneath. So, it’s a way of thinking in a way of communicating.
Our behavior, from hand gestures to how we say ‘hello’, changes the way others perceive our confidence but also has impact on influencing others. You can find basic communication skills as active listening and assertive behavior in leadership manual. We will do some more communication in practice during leadership training. I am looking forward to seeing you there. Right words combined with powerful gestures and tone could inspire all.
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- Sabina Morosini, Joyful Leadership Manual
- Adler, R., Rosenfeld, L., Proctor, R. (2001). Interplay: the process of interpersonal communicating (8th ed). Fort Worth, TX, US: Harcourt.
- Siegel, J. (2015). Exploring listening strategy instruction through action research. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan