In the last ten years of being an executive coach, I have heard one common theme amongst leaders.
Everything in life is about communication. All areas of our life, from sex to business, are affected by the way we communicate. How we move our hands, sit in a chair, and shift our eyes is a form of communication. The words we use, the projection of our voice, and the speed we speak are all forms of communication. I would challenge my readers to show me an area of your life that is void of communication. We have found ways to communicate with a creator, a higher power, or energy, even in spirituality.
Studies show that between 70%-93% of communication is non-verbal. This means that body language is a huge part of the way we communicate with others. But what causes our body to twist and contort in telling ways? Our thoughts. Our thoughts are the first gatekeepers of our communication. They decide whether we would scream, whisper, or stutter when delivering a message. Our thoughts decide whether we will stand tall, slouch, or lean while delivering a message. Our thoughts decide whether we cross our arms, look down, or stumble over our words. It is safe to say that our thoughts are where communication truly starts.
When we deliver a message to a colleague, staff member, or boss, we struggle to get our message across. We can get nervous and not speak up, or perhaps our anger takes over, and we cause more harm than before. Before communicating, ask yourself what you want to convey in your message and what you want the other person to feel.
Do you want them to feel remorse?
Do you want them to feel loved?
Do you want them to feel forgiveness?
Understanding the emotional message will help you create your physical message. It will help you structure your body and verbal language. Take the time to think about what you truly want the other person to understand from your message.
To make it easier, I have created a few steps you can take to better your communication skills:
1. What is the emotion you want the other person to feel from your message? (confidence, remorseful, understanding)
2. What type of body language best fits this message? (arms crossed, standing, sitting)
3. What environment would help me deliver my message? (outside, inside, text, email)
4. What type of voice should I use to deliver my message? (loud, stern, soft)
5. What do I want the outcome to be? (change, awareness, understanding)
Let's use an example to understand the concept better. Imagine that a client has taken advantage of you and your schedule by consistently arriving late.
1. I want my client to feel remorse for their actions.
2. When delivering my message, it would be best to stand in front of her while she sits in the chair. This allows me to express my boundaries and authority in my space.
3. The salon floor is the best place to deliver my message because it will allow me to feel safe and in control.
4. When delivering my message, I will have an assertive but soft voice. I want them to know that the behavior is unacceptable even though it may not always be intentional.
5. I will express that I want the outcome of this conversation to be a mutual understanding and respect for each other and that they will show this to me by respecting my schedule and time.
By using this system, you will have greater control over your communication and outcomes. Your thoughts will begin to spiral less as you have given them a place to play out in real-time.
One thing to remember is that the outcome we want is not always the outcome we will get. However, we must remain satisfied in our maturity, discipline, and effort to communicate effectively. We cannot control another person's reaction, but we can always consider it when using the formula above.
- David Bosscher