Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.

~ Gilbert Amelio
President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.

If you’ve ever felt like people simply aren’t listening or understanding what you’re saying, read on! Communicating effectively is critical in both our personal and professional lives. In this second part of our series on becoming a better communicator, we’ll explore five more tips on effective communication.

  1. Be mindful of your tone. Effective communication is not only about what you say, but how you say it. This is especially true during communications that are more stressful or are centered on controversy. Be assertive, but not aggressive in your tone, if your message comes from an authoritative position. Always remain calm and collected, even when things get heated, and ensure your tone is respectful and cooperative. Remember the old saying is true – “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”
  2. Be an active listener. If you’d like to become a better communicator, be an active listener. Effective communication isn’t just about speaking, it’s also about listening. Although you don’t want to interrupt the other person while they’re speaking, nod in agreement or make small sounds of agreement as they talk, to let them know you are on the same page and are fully engaged with what they are saying. If they feel like you’ve given them your full attention, they are more likely to repay you in kind.
  3. Listen to body language. If the other person is sitting there with their arms and legs tightly crossed, this is a defensive and closed position. Chances are, whatever you say while they’re in this mind set will not be met receptively. Instead, talk about less important topics, until they open up and are warmer to the ideas you wish to share. If they yawning or distracted, chances are they are bored and not paying attention. Get them actively involved in the conversation to reel them back in.
  4. Mirror, mirror. Mirroring involves mimicking another person’s body gestures, when you socially interact with them. When they cross their legs, you cross your legs. If they lean forward, you lean forward. If they nod their head, you nod your head. Although mirroring the other person will not directly help you be a better communicator, it can help the other person feel more comfortable with you and open up. We like people who are like us!
  5. Don’t forget the humor. Humor… appropriate humor… can really help you get your message across, while also helping lower some of the walls the listener may have up. Everyone likes to laugh. Even a small chuckle can help release tension between communicating parties. Effective communicators know that a little bit of humor can also keep things into perspective, especially during stressful communications.

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.