Essentials of Good communication
Leadership communication an extremely important leadership skill. Leaders spend 80% of their time communicating with clients, staff, investors, the media and other stakeholders. Good communication helps you make a connection. Communication is through words(spoken and unspoken), gestures,smiles, body language and even through your listening.Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, in his widely praised research, established that the impact of your communication is broken down in the following way:
• Your words count for a mere 7%
• Your tone of voice counts for 38%; and
• Your body language counts for the remaining 55%.
Take this little quiz to find how effective you are as a communicator?
How good are you as a communicator?
Read carefully each of the following statements and give yourself 1 point if you disagree, 2 if you agree slightly, 3 if you agree to an average extent and 4 if you agree fully.
1. When I speak to people, I have eye to eye contact.
2. When I tell something to someone, they do not have to ask me to repeat what I said.
3. When someone is talking to me, I keep aside the work I am doing.
4.When people talk to me, I try to see their perspective.
5. When I have to send a written message,I scan through it to check for mistakes or ambiguity.
6. I bear in mind the age, experience and background of my audience when I speak to them
7. When I speak to a group, I am mindful of their gestures like restlessness, yawning or such signals.
8. When I talk I speak then give the other person/s time to put forth their views.
9. Before I send a message , I think about the best media to send the message or when I have to talk to a group I spend time thinking what support material or activities I use.
10. I tend to use appropriate gestures when I speak.
11. At the end of communicating something, I seek feedback to ensure that the person has understood what I wanted to say.
12. When someone gives me feedback about what I have said, I consider it carefully
If your score is
between 12 to 24 you are a poor communicator
between 24 to 36 you a fairly good communicator but you do have scope to improve
above 36, you are a good communicator
The further sections will help you find lacunae in your communication and help you improve the same.
A leader needs to be an effective communicator. Verbal communication skills arouse and inspire people. As a leader you need to communicate effectively the dreams of an institution.Studies commissioned by Robert Half International "prove conclusively that there is a strong link between success and the ability to communicate." Effective verbal communicators
- use appropriate vocabulary
- are mindful of speed. They pace their words
- watch for expressions on the faces of their audience
- rehearse before they speak
- use humour, analogies and metaphors effectively
- know their audience and their level
- do not beat around the bush
- put forth their content systematically
- avoid being monotonous
Tips for using TACTFUL conversations:(taken from http://www.itstime.com/aug97.htm)
T = Think before you speak
A = Apologize quickly when you blunder
C = Converse, don't compete
T = Time your comments
F = Focus on behavior - not on personality
U = Uncover hidden feelings
L = Listen for feedback
Research has shown that nonverbal behaviors make up a large percentage of our daily interpersonal communication. Some major areas of nonverbal behaviors to explore are Eye contact,Facial expressions,Gestures,Posture and body orientation,Proximity,Paralinguistics and humour
Good nonverbal communication means.....
1. paying attention to things like eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements, and tone of voice. All of these signals can convey important information that isn't put into words.
2. attending to the tone of your voice.If you want to show genuine interest in something, express your enthusiasm by using an animated tone of voice.
3. maintaining proper eye contact. Not looking at the pther person when you speak means avoiding the person. Too much eye contact can seem confrontational or intimidating. While eye contact is an important part of communication, it's important to remember that good eye contact does not mean staring fixedly into someone's eyes.
4.using verbal and nonverbal communication together to convey a message. You can improve your spoken communication by using nonverbal signals and gestures that reinforce and support what you are saying.
5.considering the situation and the context in which the communication occurs
6. being mindful of the people's culture and background. A warm handshake may not go well with certain cultures, but it may mean much in some other culture.
7. being aware of the clothes and accesories you wear. Even these can pass on a lot of messages.
8. being mindful of the distance and posture you maintain.
Thomas Gordon coined the term 'Active listening' in his book Leader effectiveness Training.
Active listening means hearing what people really want to say. Active listening involves conscious effort.To be an active listener, do not get distracted when some one is talking. Don't be in a hurry to cut the conversation. Avoid planning counter arguments that are to be launched the minute you get a chance. acknowledge what the othe rspeaks....may be through a nod of the head,say 'yes yes' a 'hmm, hmm'.Saying yes or hmmm does not mean you are agreeing with what is being said, but it means you are listening. Using body language and other signs to acknowledge you are listening also reminds you to pay attention and not let your mind wander. Smile or display your concern through your expressions as the case may be. When in a group, never start parallel conversations. From time to time summarise the speaker's words by saying "Okay so you are saying that---" or "what I gather from this is ...." . Allow the speaker to complete. Avoid interruptions or counter arguments. It wastes time.Don't go onthe defense. Be honest in your opinions.
Educational leaders will find that active listening is often a remedy to disgruntled team members. It serves as a catharsis to a burdened team member.
Active listening makes your team members feel wanted.It nurtures intimacy. When people have grievances, active listening helps. Active listening establishes a "psychological truth" that states:When you sincerely try to understand another person's point of view (not necessarily agree with it), then he/she becomes psychologically obligated to try to understand your point of view.
Check this video on active Listening
|Try to actively listen to someone. Reflect and see what was difficult for you. Ask your speaker for his/reactions to your stance.
Effective Public Speaking
As an educational leader, you surely have to address students, tecahers, parents and others. Here are some tips for effective public speaking.
- Choose words carefully.Think about words before you speak them.Ask yourself "Is there a better way of saying this?"
- Rehearse before you go on stage. It spurs your confidence.
- When you address the gathering, look at your audience , not just a section of the audience.
- Well timed anecdotes, jokes and poems add spice to your words.
- Understand your audience. Avoid beating around the bush.
- Mind your tone, gestures and pace. Learn to use the microphone effectively.
- Avoid reading totally from written notes. Instead carry the main points and elaborate.Talk about your material instead of lecturing about it. This is easier to achieve if you are not reading your script, rather, use notes.
- If you make a mistake don’t worry. The chances are the audience didn’t notice.If it is something that the audience has not, just apologise and go ahead.
- These days, public speakers often use Powerpoint presentations. Rehearse with the presentation. Avoid reading while looking at the screen (Do not have your back to the audience). Instead look at the same on the laptop/PC display or have a printout of your slides. Whatever you do, face the crowd.
- It is a healthy idea to sum up your speech. Leave time for queries and feedback.
Effective Written communication
Educational leaders have to communicate in writng. Quite often this is done by secretaries or the office staff. But as a leader,you need to have skills of effective written communication. Here are a few tips:
- Ponder over what form of communication is best. Ask yourself, does it have to be an email or a letter? A report or a brochure?
- Create an outline and then fill the gaps. For example, if you are sending the report of a programme held in your institution, have the broad headings first as objectives, inauguration, schedules,participants, actual happenings, feedback and so on. It is easier then to fill the gaps.
- If your goal is to animate someone through your written message, pitch your message to engage them. Present valid, coherent and rational information. See http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/RhetoricalTriangle.htm
- If required, use graphs, figures and pictures. They save words.
- Make your document readable by avoiding errors and using proper spacing. these days, computers allow you highlighting and varied styles. Use them effectively. Proof read your work. Better still, ask two others to do so.
Remember, what you write mirrors what you think. It communicates to the reader the kind of person you are.
Conducting Effective Meetings
Read through this Case study and try to identify the specialities of a good meeting:
|Mrs. Raj is the Principal of a school. She needs to call for a meeting to discuss plans for the new academic year. She checks the schedule of the staff and decides on a suitable time and place. Five days prior to the date, she sends an official notice, inviting the staff to the meeting. The note has details as place, time and agenda of the meeting. The note also urges the staff to do some ground work on new activities planned for the year. Mrs. Raj then summons her secretary and asks her to keep all files and reports necessary. She goes through the minutes of the previous meeting. A little presentation helps her get her points in order.She also has handouts ready for each member. On the day of the meeting, she is in the conference room, fifteen minutes ahead of the rest. She checks the arrangements.The meeting begins with a few moments of silence and prayer. Mrs. Raj welcomes all members. She introduces the new members of staff. She acknowledges the support and help extended by all in the previous year and has the minutes read. Mrs. Raj builds the enthusiasm of the members. A review of the goals, or anticipated outcomes, and the agenda follows. Adequate reference to the past work is made when required.She explains her plans for the coming year using the presentation and invites suggestions.A certain staff member is notorious for intimidating others through her aggressive ways. The topic turns to something argumentative. Mrs Raj takes the reins in her hands and diffuses the situation. Some staff members seem aloof and do not participate much.Mrs. Raj encourages these members to contribute their suggestions. Plans for the academic year are finalised through consensus.Certain items are put to vote. Work is distributed. Expectations are spelt out. Doubts are solicited and clarified.At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Raj sums up the discussions. She sets deadlines for work to be submitted. Miuntes are maintained by one of the staff members, but Mrs Raj has her own jottings made as well. Post meeting, Mrs Raj has the minutes typed out and sent to all concerned. She tentatively decides the next meeting.
What special features did you notice in this case study?Could you list pre meeting requisites? List some dos and don'ts for the meeting. What is expected in the post meeting period?
Read on for more details: http://humanresources.about.com/od/meetingmanagement/a/meetings_work.htm
Negotiation skills are required to resolve conflicts. They are required when what you want is not aligned to what your team members want.Read through these questions and answer 'yes' or 'no'.
1. Do you feel that as a leader others try to take advantage of you?
2. Do you sense a lot of diasgreement between your decisions and those of your team members?
3. Do you get the feeling that your team members try to corner you?
4. Do you have to struggle to get what you want?
5. Do you sense a lot of negative vibes amongst your team members?
6. Are you left feeling that your staff is going to oppose every thing you propose?
If your answers to most of these questions are 'Yes' then you ned to brush up your negotitation skills.
The aim of win-win negotiation is to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties, and leaves all involved feeling that they've won – in some way – once the negotiation has finished.If you have to deal with someone just once and there is little chance that he/she will ever come your way again, negotiation is not really important. But in case of your staff, remember you will be interacting often.... so you need to negotitate.
Before you negotitate, think of some important aspects:(And be frank...)
1. What do you want of the negotiation and what does the other person want?
2. How much are you willing to compromise? How much do you think the other will compromise?
3. Suppose you fail to convince the other or negotiations fail, what could possibly happen? What alternatives do you have? Will the future be worse?
4. What sort of a relationship do you share with the one you have to negotiate with? What kind of a person is he/she?
5. What outcomes do you, the other person and others in your team expect?
6. What will be the results of your negotitation?Who will it affect?
7. How much power do you have?How much power does the opposite person have?
Try the win-win approach. Both parties should feel positve due to the outcome.As a leader, you may sometimes need to set your ego aside. Empathise with the other , try to see his/her side.In an ideal situation, you will find that the other person wants what you are prepared to trade, and that you are prepared to give what the other person wants. Be aware that people usually try to get more than what they really expect. In negotiation, the more informed person usually gains. So have all your data perfect. Be pleasant and persistent but not demanding. Conditioning yourself to negotiate at every opportunity will help you become more comfortable, confident and successful. Very often, educational leaders have to negotiate with who could be termed as staff leaders. These leaders somehow have a notion that they have to win every argument. They need this to continue enjoying the status they are accorded. This could be very detrimental to win-win negotiations because their approach may be ‘I will win-you must lose’. A deep study of the type of persons you are dealing with gives you an edge. Hence this course has a section on the Enneagram. Do study the same. Knowledge of human behaviour is vital to the leader to ensure successful negotiations. A good knowledge of your team member's strengths and weaknesses will help. Be aware of circumstances within and outside your institutions when you negotiate. Negotiation is an art to be perfected.
Here is a graphic representation of negotiation styles.