Communicate powerfully to increase your influence.
Learn four simple, yet profound ways you can communicate more powerfully to deepen your relationships, influence your people and drive positive change at work.
Husbands, wives, children, friends, neighbours, workmates, managers - relationships fill your life. They require the investments of time and care, especially given the quality of your relationships determine the quality of your life.
At the centre of all quality relationships is great communication. By developing your skills in communicating you will be more effective and influential in your role, while deepening your relationships with those in and outside the workplace.
Be present when listening
To communicate well, first you must listen well. Communication is a two-way process, there is a speaker and a listener. Good listeners are worth their weight in gold and are appreciated and respected by other people.
People can tell whether you are actively listening to them or not. The quality of your listening will determine the quality of your relationships. Distracted or surface listening involves split-mind listening. It's like having your mind switched on two channels at the same time; you can't do either justice or absorb the content.
Active or In-depth listening is showing genuine interest, attention and concentration towards the speaker. It involves being totally present to the conversation, listening to what they are communicating both verbally and non-verbally. It's being so in the moment with a conversation that you could repeat it, if asked to.
Choose to speak above the line
Above and below the line is a concept that relates to your mindset, your words and your actions. Above the line is when you come from a place of love - being open, curious and committed to learning. Below the line is when you come from a place of fear - being closed, defensive and committed to being right.
In your communication you have a choice to speak either above or below the line.
Choose below the line negative words and you'll give yourself and others a negative experience. When you speak from this place you are discouraging, and disempowering and the impact is that people feel judged, defensive or angry. The more time you choose to speak below the line, the more distance and distrust you create and the less influence and respect you'll have.
Choose above the line positive words and you'll create a positive experience for yourself and others. When you speak from this place you are encouraging and supportive and the impact is that people feel valued, happy and appreciated. The more time you choose to speak above the line, the more trust and respect you will build in your relationships and the more support and appreciation you will experience from others.
Words have power and can be used to create, empower and inspire or can be used to close, disempower and shutdown. Choose your words wisely.
Be mindful of your non-verbal communication
Only a small percentage of your communication is verbal - the words you use. The majority of your communication is through your tone and body language. This is known as your non-verbal communication, and it's speaking louder to people than your words.
Your voice is a bigger and more important part of your communication than you may think. With your voice, you can mutter, whisper, or shout. You can roar, suggest, demand. You can state, announce, assert, declare, affirm.
Body language is a kind of nonverbal communication, where thoughts, intentions, or feelings are expressed by physical behaviours, such as facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space.
Imagine that your words are in black and white, while your voice and body language bring your communication to life in colour. Where does your tone and body language come from? Your thoughts and emotions which is why it's vital that there is alignment between what you're thinking, how you're feeling and what you're saying.
Whether you are meeting someone one-on-one or speaking to an audience of a thousand, before you've said a word, people have made a judgement about you, your credibility and whether they trust you. When it comes to influencing the feelings and attitudes of your those around you, your words are far less important than your voice and nonverbal communication.
Anything crossed or hidden will communicate that you're hiding something or closed off. Choose open body language and good eye contact to communicate trust and openness.
Plan your communication
Where do you sit on the "Wendy Wing-it and Peter Perfect" scale of planning? If you're more like Wendy, you love to jump right in, you feel excited by the thrill of the uncertain and you trust you'll just work it out in the middle. The downside is that you might miss key points or deliver communication in a way that is not appropriate or useful. If you're more like Peter, you love to write out every word you'll speak. You attempt to have a clear plan for all possible scenarios and answer all possible questions. The downside is that you can procrastinate in having important conversations or are not present during the conversation because you're too focused on your plan.
To ensure your communication is effective it's useful to plan it out. Set yourself up for success and spend a little time planning out what you'll say, how you'll say it and when the best time to deliver the communication.
The sweet spot is to do a little planning but not spend too long that you end up procrastinating on the delivery. Here is a five-step process to help you deliver your next piece of sensitive or important communication.
- Clarify the objective of your communication. What's your purpose?
- Articulate your message. What is your main point?
- Make it relevant to your listener. What's in it for them to listen?
- Choose an appropriate channel. How will you deliver this message?
- Decide the right time. When is the best time to deliver the message?
Great communication is an active skill that requires your attention and intention. Choose to be present when listening and you'll build rapport fast. Choose to speak above the line and you'll leave people feeling positive. Choose open body language and you'll find people are more open with you. Choose to plan your next piece of vital communication and you'll find you'll have a more successful outcome.
Communicate more powerfully and you'll start seeing a positive shift in the quality of your relationships resulting in more influence and positive change at work.
Vanessa Davey is CEO, People and Culture Manager, Realm Consulting. Vanessa brings to your company a results-focused, strategic CEO-mindset, combined with insight, clarity and a commitment to embodying and leading others into authentic personal and professional growth. She is a talented business architect, a creative instructional designer and a gifted executive coach
Imagine that your words are in black and white, while your voice and body language bring your communication to life in colour