As a leader or business owner, you've probably heard all about how you must master the art of communication. It's an element that can't be overlooked, especially if your goal is to forge a healthy and sustainable company culture.
And while we're well-versed in the importance of clear and open communication, very few of us were taught what it actually looks like.
In his new book, All In: How Impactful Teams Build Trust from the Inside Out, leadership expert and best-selling author Robb Holman explains five simple communication principles you can begin practicing to bring real results.
1. Embrace silence.
Especially for extroverts, silence during social interactions can feel like a problem -- or even downright scary! But in today's fast-paced world, it is crucial that we let ourselves and our team members breathe. When we allow for moments of silence without feeling a need to fill them, we become more present, more discerning. Ideas can flow easier, and decisions can be made without pressure.
2. Create active participation.
Many people shudder at the idea of speaking out in public. In fact, public speaking is said to be the biggest fear most people have (yes, even above death). While the Western world has taught us in many ways to be passive consumers, this participation style doesn't help us in the workplace. You don't have to push yourself into a huge public speaking event to practice creating active participation. Simply start with the situations you're regularly in: Ask questions, share, and get people talking about what interests them.
It's totally normal that your opinions, ideas, and thoughts differ from those of your teammates. While this reality of human nature has given rise to plenty of conflict, it can also be used for good: creating a flourishing organization with diversity of thought.
3. Be yourself.
The first step to being yourself is getting to know yourself. What are your core values? Your biggest strengths and weaknesses? The top skill or gift you want to share in the workplace? We often overlook being ourselves, assuming that we must simply get our jobs done quickly and efficiently. But by intentionally being who you are, you give others permission to do the same. Who you are becomes a gift to those you lead -- a legacy you leave behind that can even impact future generations.
4. Tell your story.
Plain and simple: Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has unique life experiences, and that gives them a one-of-a-kind perspective. Holman is no stranger to this idea, as he shared with me on the Love in Action podcast an incredible story of how he experienced a real-life miracle after being diagnosed with a mysterious illness he thought was going to kill him.
To his point, you have a history, and so does everyone else! This is the reason we have favorite books and movies -- we connect with the characters, relate to the stories, and feel inspired by them.
Rather than hiding or dismissing stories as irrelevant in the workplace, learning to tell your own story helps your team understand how to connect with you while opening the floor for them to share their own stories.
5. Know the language of appreciation.
Psychologist and philosopher William James said, "The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated." In 2017, Gary Chapman and Paul White wrote The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, revealing how the same patterns that enhance romantic relationships apply in different ways in the workplace (receiving or experiencing gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch).
Whether we're establishing a new partnership, working with a client one-on-one, or leading a staff meeting, knowing how and when to show appreciation means everything. An appreciative handshake, a word of recognition, or a few extra minutes of your time can be a game changer. As we build trust and practice presence with others, we start to learn how to best connect with them as individuals.
Holman urges us to remember this: What's in it for them is also what's in it for you. When they win, you win. This is how we build teams, workplaces, and greater communities of people who are All In.