10 signs that you’re great communicator

Here are three simple basic truths about communication:

  1. Communication effectiveness is crucial for leadership, team and organizational success.
  2. Communication is hard to get right and easy to get wrong.
  3. Dealing with communication “mishaps” can be very costly and frustrating.

Given these simple truths, it is not surprising that enhancing communication effectiveness is high on the list of development wishes for leaders and teams. In a recent article, Mike Myatt offers ten principles that you can use to assess whether your own communication reaches the level of “excellence”. His principles include:

  • Get personal
  • Have an open mind
  • Replace ego with empathy
  • Read between the lines
  • Speak to groups as individuals

His principle number 6 is about good listening. Listening is the skill that I believe is truly the “master” communication skill; it is essential since all other skills significantly depend on it and challenging because it requires us to manage our attention and ego really well. Here’s what Myatt has to say about this particular trait of excellent communicators:

Shut-up and listen: Great leaders know when to dial it up, dial it down, and dial it off (mostly down and off). Simply broadcasting your message ad nauseum will not have the same result as engaging in meaningful conversation, but this assumes that you understand that the greatest form of discourse takes place within a conversation and not a lecture or a monologue.

The challenge, of course, is how to cultivate the skills to engage in “meaningful conversations” rather than simply broadcasting your message. This is more than a matter of technique. Yes, technique and skills are part of the answer, but they have to be underpinned by effective mindsets about conversation and interpersonal connections.

For this reason, investing time and effort in enhancing communication and conversations skills is almost always a high leverage investment. Warren Bennis famously said that all leadership development is personal development. The more I work with leaders and teams on enhancing conversation and communication skills, the more I believe that all such development work is personal development with wide-ranging benefits.

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