Being an effective communicator is a critical leadership skill, and being an ineffective communicator can result in ineffective leadership -- and the potential to lose an extraordinary amount of money.
In fact, poor communication is one of the biggest problems most organizations face.
So how can you become a more dynamic communicator, one whose words are able to motivate and move people?
Here are three tips:
1. Read more.
The more you read, the better you are at written communication. You gain a more expansive vocabulary, are exposed to new ideas, and reading helps you see the world through the eyes of others -- which is the very definition of empathy.
If that sounds like something you learned in elementary school, it probably is.
However, the benefits of reading books -- whether in printed or digital form -- is something Americans appear to be getting less of, as a recent study by the Pew Research Center indicated.
Help reverse that trend.
In a world so dependent on written communication (email, text, social media, blogging, content marketing, etc.), you will stand out by being a more prolific reader.
2. Begin by assuming your message is wrong, and that no one will agree with you.
With so many self-proclaimed "thought leaders," "ninjas," "gurus," and "visionaries," humility is harder to come by. The idea you might be wrong, and that no one will agree with your message, might seem to show weakness in a culture that often rewards those who speak the loudest and most forcefully (even if their message is factually incorrect.)
Just like going against the grain and being a more prolific reader, you can be a more effective communicator by bucking the trend and being willing to consider why you might be wrong, or why your perspective on a particular subject might not be "visionary."
Being willing to admit to yourself that you might be partially or completely wrong will either:
- Help you strengthen and improve your message;
- Abandon a message you might be completely incorrect on.
Self-doubt, introspection, and critical thinking are not signs of weakness -- they are signs of someone who is trying to be the most thoughtful communicator possible.
3. Remember that effective communication is a dialogue.
Too often in our culture, messages are framed in a take-it-or-leave it, "you are either for us or against us" manner.
Divisive messages like that may be memorable, but in the long run they are almost always ineffective. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they are against you, and contrary to popular myth, the greatest achievements are often the product of ongoing dialogue and compromise.
Ultimately, being a dynamic communicator who actually compels people to listen to and consider your message isn't about being the loudest or most frequent talker.
Instead, being a dynamic communicator means that you are able to convey a well-worded, empathetic, thoughtfully developed message that engages others in the process of working toward your goal.