One of the most important skills in the world today is communication. It is almost impossible to have meaningful engagement with your team members, customers and prospects without an exchange and understanding of ideas.
Communication becomes an even more indispensable tool for peak-performing leaders as they seek to record impactful outcomes in a profitable manner.
As important as it is, many leaders struggle with communication. Hence, they are frustrated when they don’t get the anticipated results.
However, you can set your team on a journey of excellence by reviewing the following four indications with them.
1. Universal Statements
There is a world of difference between, “John is a bad person” and “all men are bad people.” The first expression speaks to an opinion (whether accurate or inaccurate) you hold of a particular person based on your experience or engagement with the individual. The second is painting everyone from John’s gender with the same brush. It is an error to define an entire demographic by the actions or inactions of one person or a few people; this error in communication is sometimes known as the fallacy of composition or the fallacy of generalization
Poor-performing communicators sometimes have great intentions, but they can fail in using the right language to convey their message. This isn’t necessarily just a function of a lack of appropriate vocabulary but a mindset that is prejudiced and uses unfounded claims to validate such blanket bias.
To be a peak-performing communicator, you need to rid your mind of the biases and prejudices you have about your gender and other genders; your race and other races; your religion and other religions; your generation and other generations; your country and other countries—and other biases that show up in your interactions with people.
2. Harsh Words
Another sign that your team members need to level up their communication skills is their inability to refrain from using words that offend sensibilities. Unbridled communication, whether spoken or written, can appear crude. Unwillingness or inability to refine it may be a symptom of toxicity. As human beings, left to ourselves, we often want to operate on our basest instincts and express ourselves in the most unhinged language. However, just like conventional laws that govern our interactions with the world, there are etiquettes of communication and linguistic decorum.
For example, instead of describing a person as an “idiot,” you can choose to state that the person is “lacking in understanding” regarding the particular subject of discussion. It shows that you do not have a personal spat or hold a grudge against the person but against the actions or inactions of the person.
3. Focusing On Personalities Rather Than Issues
Poor-performing communicators may demonize people who disagree with them instead of understanding and addressing the person’s perspective. It smacks of a lack of emotional intelligence when you attack a person’s personality and embark on a campaign of calumny. What we should strive to achieve is a solution, not contention.
For example, if a colleague doesn’t have a grasp of a new technology that was introduced to the production process, you should address their level of competence, how it is making the entire team operate sub-optimally and what the person can do to get better. Their skill level is where the issue is; it has little or nothing to do with their character. By using disparaging remarks about people, you’re implying that such people are a problem themselves and not that you want their cooperation.
4. Prioritizing Judgement Over Listening
Poor-performing communicators may often be prejudiced; they take positions on a matter before hearing the other person’s point of view. Usually, they are more committed to proving the other person is wrong and that they are right. Poor-performing communicators usually absolve themselves of all blame and ascribe fault or complicity to others.
When communicating with others, listening is perhaps a greater virtue than speaking. Listening is a sign that you are giving the other person an opportunity to either confirm or debunk a claim. When you are a boss who judges an employee for arriving late to the workplace and sanctions the person before hearing the reason, you aren’t listening. By choosing to listen, you may find out that there was a car accident that obstructed the flow of traffic. A simple investigation can show that the employee was being honest and that answer was accurate—especially when the employee is not a habitual latecomer.
This is the language of leadership, and I hope you can review these indicators with your team in your quest to deliver peak performance.