Many people start a new year by focusing on makeovers: New exercise program. Better eating habits. More organized work space. Improved strategic planning. Paying off debt. Whatever your list looks like, I’m guessing that one item doesn’t appear there: “Add new communication tools.”
Why? Two reasons: 1) Most people consider themselves better-than-average communicators. 2) As one strategist recently mentioned, “Many executives themselves don’t really understand the finer points of communication. Instead, they delegate the difficult assignments to communication specialists: ‘Give me talking points on that.’ Or, ‘Put together a PowerPoint on that for me, and I’ll take it to the meeting.’”
Yet, if we were all excellent communicators, why would there be so many divorces? So many people leaving their jobs because they can’t get along with their boss? Such gridlock in Congress? So many lawsuits involving misinterpretation of agreements?
See room for self-improvement? If so, I offer a few communication resolutions you may want to consider for the coming year:
- Master your emotions before you speak.
- Adjust your tone of voice to show respect for the other person.
- Listen more than you talk if you intend to build rapport.
- Apologize when you are wrong; own up to your mistakes.
- Refuse to ramble when asked a question or an opinion. Think before responding.
- Simplify your message. Cut the clutter. Drop the jargon.
- Appeal to the heart as well as their mind if you intend to influence others.
- Overview; then elaborate—never start with the details and work your way to the key point.
- State the action you want—don’t assume, hint, or imply it.
- Help the other person win (or at least not to lose) if you intend to settle a conflict and sustain a relationship.
The payoffs are promising. You could
- Influence clients and colleagues to support the ideas you propose
- Keep projects running smoothly—on time, within budget, completed as envisioned
- Negotiate wisely
- Get along with all your family members
- Stay happily married—or unmarried, as the case may be
- Encourage your children to make the best decisions
- Build a culture of trust and loyalty
- Discuss issues rationally and come to mutually acceptable decisions
Are there other communication resolutions you have on your list this year? If so, jot them in the Comments box below.