Newsletter: How to be heard

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and assume that you don’t need another coronavirus email.

Instead, I like to think ahead. So I’m focused on something that’s evident in our current situation but also timeless – the importance of how leaders communicate. Powerful communication will shape how well we perform for the rest of the year.

In our communication as leaders, it’s easy to assume that because you said something, it’s been heard. In fact, we often take it even a step further in our minds and assume that because we said something it’s been heard and accepted. Sadly that’s not any more true in the workplace than it is in our homes and personal relationships.

The key to breaking that logjam can be understanding that in many situations the most impactful thing you can do as a communicator is listen. In a wonderfully counterintuitive way (that I’d like to teach the “commentators” clogging my Inbox and TV screen right now), you can more effectively get your message across if you start by honing your listening skills. Use the extra time you have with your teams and any time you get with your clients to ask thoughtful, probing questions about their concerns and priorities. The answers will teach you a lot about each person individually and about how to best serve the needs of each group – ultimately allowing you to tailor your message so that it resonates.

When we think of the best communicators, great orators like MLK, Jr. come to mind. Nonetheless, when I think of the people who make me feel heard, they are often the people who’ve invested the time to ask for my ideas and advice. While they may not be world class speakers, they have earned my trust by listening, a standard that’s more accessible to each of us. Please keep that in mind right now, when you know the people you lead (on a project or in your household) need to hear from you. Maybe the leadership they need can be communicated as effectively through listening as through speaking.

To quote my sweet, Southern mother: “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Hope you use yours well.

Discover more resources and inspiration to celebrate your milestones and plan for the next ones in this month’s newsletter.

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