Being conscious of how you communicate and having a well-thought out strategy is key to being an effective and influential communicator.
We come into contact with so many different people during the course of our day, we can’t just have one mode or style of communicating. Your boss, your direct report(s), your partner, your clients, your colleagues – they all need and expect different things from you. Being able to communicate in the appropriate way and match those needs will make your life easier!
The Beauty of 360degree Communication
Here are a few tools and techniques you can employ to deal with those different groups of people:
1) Your Boss
He/she is expecting you to do your job, that’s why they hired you so when they interact with you, they want to hear about what you have been doing especially the things you have completed that will make their life easier.
• Keep positive – if you have a challenge then have a solution as well.
• No surprises – as much as you may not want to tell them something, honesty is always the best policy. If it’s a genuine mistake then admit it, be upfront and give your Boss a chance to prepare for any fall-out there may be. Depending on what it is, your Boss may be as much on the line as you so have him as your ally as opposed to your enemy.
• Be inclusive – don’t complain about other people to your Boss. Don’t be seen to be self-seeking or sycophantic, it’s not attractive and only makes you sound desperate. Like the ‘comedian’ who can only make people laugh by poking fun at others; be credible and good at what you do without having to malign your colleagues.
2) Your Direct Reports
Just as you will want to impress your Boss, your direct reports will want to do the same thing with you, or at least your high performing direct reports will. They also need something in return – they need to hear information from you about the business, they need to know how their job fits in with that and contributes to the bigger picture. They also need to know you care about them and their development. Lots of things huh?! Here are a couple of easy ways you can meet those needs:
• Set the Communication temperature – set up regular briefings with the team informing them of things happening in the business, within their department and even the industry. Let them know that open communication is a given and that you are committed to sharing things with them and giving them an opportunity to share their own ideas.
• Set up regular Engagement Interviews – these need to only be once a quarter or maybe twice a year depending on how many people you have in your team. Spend at least 1hr speaking to each individual direct reports about what they are passionate about, what they enjoy about their job, how you can make their lives easier, why they stay with the Company. This information is like gold dust and will give you great insights in to how your team can be more productive and how to keep them engaged.
3) Your Client
This can be one of the more difficult relationships to manage as it really is about positive influence, without any positional power. You need to rely on your personal power – the traits you have that set you apart and make you someone your Client wants to do business with. Be a person with integrity, who can be relied upon to do good work. Build a track record based on success and delivery. Be an expert in your field and use your knowledge and network to add value to your Client. All good in theory right, so how do you put this into practice:
• Be a skillful enquirer – ask lots of questions, gather information and really understand your Client, the needs they have and where you can help and add value. Have a Question Strategy – think about the questions you will ask at the next meeting, use open questions to encourage your Client to talk and share and make sure you plan enough time so it doesn’t feel rushed and like it’s the Spanish Inquisition
• Know their style – we all have a preferred style of communication. Some of us like data, others value relationships; some like to make decisions and do so relatively quickly and others prefer to consider all angles and make a more informed decision, over a period of time. There is no better way but we have more in common with some styles than others and that can impact how well we communicate and ultimately influence. Knowing if your Client is more about data or relationships could be the key to getting the next deal signed!
So, ultimately, it’s all about knowing how to change your communication style to suit others and having an arsenal of tools and techniques you can readily deploy for any given situation. Good luck!