Connectivity doesn’t equal connection. Show me a workplace where everyone is connected 24/7 by email, instant messaging, social media, and smart phones, and I’ll show you a workplace where words become just so much white noise.
To rise about the din today, you need great communication skills. Not good skills, but great skills. If you work to develop exceptional communication skills, here’s the impact you can expect.
The Impact You Can Expect From Exceptional Communication Skills
The very essence of leadership is communication. Leadership involves communicating a vision and a goal, helping a team develop strategy to meet that goal, inspiring a team to achieve that goal, and rewarding a team when they do so. Nothing happens without communication.
Think of meetings you’ve participated in where some new idea surfaced. If an idea “takes off” and moves to the next stage (an implementation team), who most likely becomes the leader for that initiative? The person who articulates the mission most clearly, compellingly, and passionately.
Members of the group recognize leadership potential quickly by a person’s communication skills—or lack thereof.
Influence to Sell Ideas
Even when not in a leadership position, great communication skills expand your influence. Your ability to
- read your audience well
- organize your information and ideas to meet the interests of your listeners
- phrase thoughts, facts, data, and conclusions in palatable ways
gives you the edge in many persuasive situations: Formal presentations. Writing—email, reports, proposals. Team meetings. C-suite meetings. Even in informal hallway conversations.
As I wrote years ago in my book Communicate With Confidence, the sum of your relationships equals your interactions stacked end to end. The more adept at asking strategic, guiding, perceptive questions, the better leader and the better conversationalist you become. That is, if you listen, probe, clarify, feedback, analyze, and reflect on what you discover, you’ll “up” your communication game.
The more you learn about others, the deeper the relationship, the stronger your influence, and the better you can lead and serve them.
Fewer Foul-Ups to Correct
Miscommunication creates an enormous amount of rework. For example:
- Someone implies that the team is about to make a bad decision; the team “misses” the speaker’s implied warning and makes a bad decision, creating escalating problems.
- An executive makes an unclear announcement or posts ambiguous social media messages. Stock prices collapse as public and customer confidence slides.
- A presenter gives a briefing with an unclear conclusion. Decision makers fail to take action on a dangerous situation until too late.
- A manager sends a disorganized email; readers miss the directive and chaos results.
- Instructions on operating equipment are unclear. Users make mistakes that cause rework, accidents, and sometimes death.
None are isolated—or infrequent—incidents.
On the other hand, if you master communication skills—oral and written—then you have fewer of these situations to mop up in your day-to-day work. You’ll reap massive productivity gains simply by knowing how to listen critically, summarize well, organize information, and choose the precise word to get your point across.
Your excellent communication skills can help prevent those conversation replays at 2:00 a.m. : “Should I have said X? …. Or maybe if I’d said Y?” No one sleeps better at night than the person who can say what they mean and mean what they say.
Learn more ways to improve your communication skills in Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire and Get Things Done. Download an excerpt by clicking here or on the image below.