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 are 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. Here are five communication tips that can help you become a better leader.
Being a boss doesn’t mean that all you have to do is talk and be the one speaking. Being a boss also means that 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. You’ll be amazed by how much you can learn about your employees. You can also improve your business by listening to their ideas. They are the ones with a hands-on approach to the job and they know best what should be changed. This doesn’t mean that you have to do everything that 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.
Effective communication doesn’t mean that you have to use all of the words from the dictionary. What it does mean is that 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. This 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 and dictionary words. But we need to realize that it’s not a requirement of a good business communication. Simplicity and clarity lead to effective and good communication. Business writing tools like StateOfWriting or Simple grad can help you out with this.
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 all you notice are their fails. This way, 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’ 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. ‘ 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”, – explains Isabel Babin, a Communication manager at Writing Populist and Via writing editor.
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 his team – this will deteriorate trust and your employees will fear you. This is not a good thing.
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.
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 your own cup – if the boss is doing it, why wouldn’t they?
Another example would be if you told them to double check their business emails for accuracy and then sending an email full of mistakes. This is not good – you need to show them that this is important to you, so you can use tools like Study demic or My Writing Way to fix all of those mistakes.
Over to you
Leaders have a lot on their shoulders. There are so many people relying on them to set an example, hear them out – and all of them expect that a leader should know how to gracefully communicate with them. This is a hard-earner skill. If you are a leader in need of some communication help, follow these tips and you’ll be a better boss in no time.