The Easy Way to Communicate Like a Pro
Episode #2 of the course Ten essential traits for today’s leaders by Frank McKinley
Welcome to Lesson Two!
Last time we looked at why it’s so important, to be honest. If no one trusts you, you’re not a leader—you’re a dictator. You’re giving orders to people who only obey them for money.
Today we’ll look at communication. What is communication? What is its purpose?
Here’s a simple definition of effective communication: it’s the transfer of information from one person to another. What makes it effective is that the receiver gets the message the sender intended.
What Muddies Communication?
Communication needs three things to work well.
First, it’s concise. If you’ve ever read a book full of fluff, you feel like you wasted your money on hot air.
People’s time is valuable. Don’t spend an hour when it should take five minutes. Don’t say more than you must to get your point across. The more you say, the more likely you’ll confuse your listener.
Second, it’s clear. You’ll have to think through what you want:
What will it take to accomplish this?
What questions or objections could the listener have?
What can you leave out and not lose impact?
Answer these questions as fully and accurately as possible before you say a word. You can’t predict everything, but this should give you enough to focus on what matters.
Third, it’s conversational. Sometimes leaders forget their team members are people first.
You’re under pressure to get things done. Your team has a variety of strengths and experiences. Meet people where they are. Encourage them in hard things. And offer help whenever you can.
Don’t forsake small talk. The people you work with have feelings and want to know they’re more than numbers on a chart. And perhaps, most importantly, tell them how what you suggest benefits them.
Now It’s Your Turn
I’ve got two exercises for you.
Give a compliment. It’s not hard to do this. Just find something you like and tell the person who did it. Here are the conditions: be sincere, don’t do it because you want something, don’t expect anything in return.
Compliment someone every day for a week. It doesn’t have to be the same person. When you lift someone with your words, they’ll listen to more of them.
Do it for three weeks and you’ll have a habit that will turn colleagues into friends.
Ask for help on something hard. Sometimes you’ll have to ask people to do something they don’t want to:
• Clean up a mess that has been ignored for far too long.
• Call a customer who is ready to leave, and hasn’t been persuaded to change their mind.
• Work overtime on a project that benefits the company, but is hurting their family life.
We talked about delivering bad news honestly in the previous lesson. Caring is being honest.
“I know this project stinks worse than a dead skunk at night outside your bedroom window. But it still has to be done. I’m committed to making it as easy as possible for you. And if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to let me know.”
When it’s done, make sure they get the credit they deserve. Then find a project that will help them grow to balance the burden you just gave them. What task or project do you need help with? Follow these steps as you deliver the news:
1. Acknowledge the task will be hard.
2. Assure them that you appreciate their help.
3. Ask them how you can make the task easier.
4. Thank them and assure them you’ll find a way to properly reward them.
Great communicators transfer feelings with their messages. And they ensure that the messages people receive are the ones they meant to send.
In the next lesson, you’ll learn how to be more creative. And don’t worry, no paintbrush is required!
Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond by Jay Sullivan
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