If you were to rate yourself in the business area of “communication,” what grade would you give yourself? This is not a trick question. It is a very important and viable one in our world today. Did you ever notice how a group of people can read the same thing, say an email or letter or blog and come away with as many facts, falsehoods, perspective, and reading between the lines as there are people in the room? Yes, we all have, why do you think this happens?
There are many factors that go into these many conclusions. Here are just a few: personality, life experiences, modeling at home and in the world, influencers, points of view, economic and social norms, culture, and a million more. Some of us read with a “directing style” while others read with a “collaboration style” and still others have used the “want to vs have to style of communicating.
For those of you who have the privilege of working with a great coach you will no doubt notice that in your interactions with your coach, they will draw out your innermost dreams, desires, thoughts, aspirations, beliefs, and hopes. At the same time, a great coach will challenge your thinking on just about everything to again peel back the many layers of who you are and your decision-making process.
One of my mentors described this process by a consultant like this: “…the consultant I hired asked me so many questions for one full day….at the end of that day the room we were in was covered with my answers on large sheets of paper attached to the walls…he basically wanted to know: who I was, where I was, where I had bee, where I hoped to go and on and on…”Why do you believe this consultant asked so many questions? The reason is the same in communicating with others. First, you must know, really know the person or team you want to lead.
There is a big difference in communicating styles between “directing” and “connecting.” Leading by assumption is the road to death for a leader. Do not assume you know everything – you don’t. Do not think you know where your people are because – you don’t. As leaders we must listen more than we talk. If your team has issues, challenges, setbacks or any other regular occurrence in business, put them in a room and present the problem and let them figure it out and make a plan to get back on track. If you are in a corner out of eye contact just listening, you might be surprised at what is said, how the issue is resolved and who rises up to be the leader that the rest of the team will listen to.
When a leader “connects” he/she finds common ground. This is harder to do than it sounds. Just think back to your last issue and how it was or was not resolved. Below are some ideas of how to find common ground.
Common Ground may be found when:
• The parties meet
• Where all parties are valued
• All parties share in the conversation
• Everyone listens and learns from the others
• Each party gives just a little to move the ball forward
• A plan to move forward is agreed upon
• Everyone agrees to OWN the plan and work it
If you are a leader who does not naturally ask open-ended questions you may be stuck in one of these many places:
• You assume [for whatever reason] you have all the answers
• You value what you think more than what others think
• You prize directing others more than understanding others
• You do not recognize nor understand the reason for finding common ground
• You do not understand that by asking open-ended questions, you can manage expectations
This, of course, all goes to the bottom line of “building trust” with your team, customers, peers and so on. No one is perfect, 100% of the time, NO ONE. Once we understand this and are able to acknowledge that we may have done something wrong, or made a poor decision, or acting way too fast without all the facts; this is the first step to connecting. Humble yourself and let others know you are going to try to get the facts and rectify the situation. Let your team share their viewpoints and what they might have done in this instance. Work to fix the problem. Then follow up with that result. Never leave your team wondering what happened with “X.”
This entire blog comes done to a mindset of the leader who is trying to connect through communication: A leader who is set on self-preservation and is wholly self-driven will never connect and communicate with other people. A person like this has a stingy, scarcity mindset.
Think about this over the month of October every time you enter a meeting, write an email, text, or put out a communication. Am I connecting through my words and actions, or am I shutting down communication?
I’d like to hear from you!
Janice Bastani Coaching offers customized solutions for you and your team to resource and equips you to be a “Great Leader.” When you are ready, we are here to help, send an email to begin the process: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Visit my website at: