Communicate Better: Here’s How

Fewer problems occur when people communicate better.  As leaders, we should be doing all that is within our power to keep people talking.  Here are three tips to get others more actively and personally involved in the communication process.

Get Others Involved

When you offer the opportunity for someone to get involved, any number of things can happen.  They may reject the offer out of hand for any number of stated reasons or for no conceivable reason whatsoever.  Some people are like that. They don’t want to step out at all. They want the comfort and security of knowing exactly what they will be doing and what is expected of them.  No amount of encouragement or harassment will be sufficient to change her mind.

Others might consider and accept your offer of heightened involvement, only to renege and back away as the time for active involvement approaches.  There will always be those who fear commitment, who lack the confidence (here’s The Key To Build Confidence) and the willingness to follow through, even though they may initially talk a good game.

Both types of individuals can frustrate those of us who are striving to communicate better.  They can be so frustrating that you might be tempted to throw your hands up in frustration and ask yourself, “What’s the use?”

To surrender, to quit, is to acknowledge defeat.  And though not everyone possesses the psychological makeup to accept heightened levels of involvement when offered them, some do.  When they do choose to get involved some pretty amazing things can result–things you probably would never predict. All because you didn’t abandon your opportunity to get others involved.

To communicate better, consider the following tips to get others more actively and personally involved in the process.

Communicate Better: Ask Their Preference

One of the best ways to get others to communicate better is by asking a fairly open-ended question.  An example would be, “What would you like to see happen from this point forward?” or “If you had your way what direction would you have us go and why?”

As mentioned before, not everyone will immediately embrace personal involvement.  However, some will. And when they do choose to respond to the type of question offered above, it is very easy then to move to the next step.  The next step involves extending a personal invitation.  This invitation is for them to become more personally involved in the actions to be taken or decisions to be made.

How many people around you are wishing for someone to ask them what they think?  Probably more than you think. But, you’ll never know for sure unless you ask.

Communicate Better: Be Specific

When offering the chance to get others involved, too often the tendency is to leave the activity open-ended.  That’s a bad idea. Few people will reach blindly into a bag unless that have some idea what is in that bag already.  Not knowing creates fear, anxiety and hesitancy.

It’s much better to communicate specifically what they are getting into and what is expected of them.  

Communicate Better: Recognize Success

Once you are successful in getting others more actively involved, there is one more key activity that should not be overlooked.  Catch people doing things right and recognize their success in every way possible.

It takes courage to step out on faith and to take on additional responsibility.  Over time, the more involved people become, the more they will communicate with one another. Fewer problems occur when people communicate effectively.  So, we should be doing all that is within our power to keep people talking.

Show people what success looks like. (Here’s an example: Why Leaders Should De-Brief)  Trumpet the successes that you are observing.  Don’t wait for huge, “front page news” successes.  Be just as quick to acknowledge and highlight the “look, we’ve made a little progress” successes, too.

The personal involvement of others is a skill not easily mastered, but one that can pay significant future dividends.

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Phillip Van Hooser
Author: Phillip Van Hooser
Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by transforming the talent of their people. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on leadership, service and communication. His latest book is "Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership." Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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