Do You Communicate Clearly?

August 29, 2014 by  

Most people think that they are good at communicating because they have been doing it since they were born. Actually, most of us are not really very good at it, and here is why.
Communication has many layers of complexity it is not simple linear…message out, message in. Rather there are many interferences and roadblocks thrown up along the pathways of transmission.
In order to gain the ability to communicate with clarity, influence and impact, one must first understand those obstacles and employ strategies to overcome them.

In my book: 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, I offer the reader a full explanation of essential elements necessary for less conflict, frustration, confusion, disappointment, resentment and complaining.

If one wishes to be able to communicate effectively in all apects of their lives they do need to learn about the issues and approaches that allow those win/win and positive outcomes we desire.

One of the main obstacles is the fact that humans, by nature, are creatures of habit. We tend to do the same things over and over even if we do not get what we want because we have set a personal default. In addition, we are usually not big fans of change so altering those habits is rather difficult to achieve without a concerted effort and a real commitment to make that alteration to our behaviour.

Having said all that, those who truly wish to improve their communication skills can certainly do it with a deeper understanding of what caused miscommunication and the strategies necessary to overcome those tendencies.

It is not rocket science, it is actually based on common sense and if we dig down into our subconscious mind we will discover that we actually know a lot of this but have sublimated it so deeply that we have a hard time finding it any more.

I challenge each of you who wish to be better at generating voluntary compliance, creating more win/win and positive outcomes with your colleagues, friends and family and hope to experience fewer frustrating and disappointing conversations, to commit to learning more about the concepts necessary to make those improvements.

I promise that if you make that commitment you will become more efficient, productive, creative and happy in all that you do! In addition you will be able to communicate with clarity, influence and impact!

What Constitutes an Effective Leader?

August 25, 2014 by  

There are many attributes that one could list to describe an effective leader.
In my leadership workshops; that is often the first exercise I offer to attendees: list the traits you feel are necessary for one to be a good leader. There are actually no wrong answers here as it will depend to a large degree on personal experience. Nonetheless, are definitely certain ones that always appear in the lists developed.

Last year, Global Knowledge, an organization that provides excellent corporate and leadership training programs, conducted a huge research study on just that topic and what they discovered is this, there are certainly many skills necessary to be a successful leader, the list topper: Effective Communication.

If you are in a leadership position and cannot clearly and honestly articulate your vision, core values, and goals, how will you be able to know if your team aligns with your strategic plan for the organization?
If you are not a great listener, great questioner, accountable and responsible, how will you gain the trust, respect and rapport necessary to build, nurture and maintain strong relationships within and outside your company?
If you cannot demonstrate confidence, competence, forward looking approaches and decisiveness, why would people even want to follow you?

You know you are an inspirational leader if people will follow you anywhere, if only to see what you will do! Great leaders inspire others to shared aspirations. They are dealers in hope. They can persuade people to do what they don’t want to do, or do what they’re too lazy to do, and like it.

Leadership is about enabling individuals to work as a team, complement one another and find innovative solutions to organizational problems.
Great leaders open the doors of opportunity so that their people can reach their full potential.
Successful leaders support, encourage, coach, acknowledge and empower their people, then everyone wins!

Becoming a great leader is an ongoing process, yes some people may be inherently better at it than others, however, if one commits to learning more about those essential attributes and how to master them, there is no doubt that they will become better in that role.

Challenge yourself, examine your abilities, be open to learning new approaches and accept feedback from your team and colleagues….we can all learn from each other!

Great Leaders Ask Great Questions

August 12, 2014 by  

While knowing the right answers is important in many situations especially when responding to the people to whom you are accountable it is not necessarily the key to an effective leader. There is actually a skill more important than having the right answers. To be a truly successful leader, you have to be great at asking great questions. This talent is more important than coming up with good answers.

Here are seven tips for honing your question asking skills:
1. Ask open-ended questions. The other person will be more honest and revealing, when you ask these sorts of questions because you are requesting their input.
2. Get behind the assumptions. You may have an answer but first check to see what the other person thinks. When you have the right team, their perspective will likely align with yours, or you might have the opportunity to learn a new approach.
3. Get both sides of the story. The truth is often somewhere in the middle but it cannot be arrived at without knowing the full situation.  Lots of questions will be necessary here.
4. Ask follow-up questions. Dig deeper and find out more about what others think and feel. This strategy will also enhance your relationship with this person.
5. Get comfortable with dead air. The best answers often come after the silence, we don’t need to be talking all the time, in fact we can’t think and talk at the same time.  So if are actually going to listen and learn, we need to stop talking!
6. Help people discover their own insights. This is what the Socratic Method of teaching is all about! Get others actively involved in their learning process; they will retain much more information using that approach.
7. Understand the difference between facts and speculation. Clarification brings truth, and although opinions might be interesting to learn, facts are what are necessary in order to make measured decisions.  In addition, a collaborative result is more meaningful and accurate for everyone.

How good are you at asking those great questions?

5 Secrets to Effective Communication……The Communication Handbook

August 3, 2014 by  

Clear communication is such an important skill for every aspect of life that I decided to write a book: 5 Secrets of Clear Communication: how to build strong relationships at work, at home and at play.

The purpose of the book is to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can become more effective when conversing with others. Most of us think we know how to communicate because we have been doing it since we were born, however, what I have found in my work as a soft skills consultant and trainer is this: most people are NOT very good at it!
The structure of the book provides a full explanation of each of the 5 aspects included, offers examples, work scenarios, true stories and finally an exercise which allows the reader to try out what they have learned. The final page of each chapter offers a summary of the key takeaways for that topic.

The book describes 5 elements of communication and the introduction provides a definition for clear communication along with some background on why I wrote this handbook. The idea is that once the reader gains a fuller understanding of how effective communication works they will be able to communicate with impact, influence, and clarity.

1. Active Listening: the key communication skill comprises the first chapter. Examples, stories and a breakdown of this most important skill give the reader a deeper understanding of how to become a good listener.

2. Accountability: is a personal empowerment technique which offers the 3 options we have available to us for problem solving. None of which is easy, however those are our only choices.

3. Assertiveness: knowing what you want and asking for it in an honest and respectful manner is a continuation of accountability and teaches how to create a more successful outcome from a difficult conversation.

4. Gender Differences in Communication: how men and women communicate in very different ways, is explored and many humorous but familiar examples are included in this chapter.

5. Personality Typing: knowing the sort of person with whom we are having an exchange can give us insight in how we can adjust our communication style to be more impactful is covered in this final chapter.

Finally, I offer a summary of what is covered and challenge the reader to begin employing these most valuable skills in their daily lives so that they can reduce the conflict in their life, increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, as well as enhance the happiness factor in all that they do. Once they start practicing more effective techniques of communication; they will enjoy much more success in all aspects of their life; at home, at play, in volunteer situations, and of course, at work.