Communicating like a Girl Boss
One of the most crucial skills any leader needs to develop, is their communication skills and their ability to motivate and inspire people through difficult times or to have really tough conversations without ruining the relationship in the long term.
For as long as I can remember, I have been bombarded with messages telling me that ‘communication’ is the key to success in business and in life. Getting married? Random strangers will think it’s totally fine to give you unsolicited advice. And it’s always something like ‘never go to bed angry’ or ‘communication is the key’. If communication is so vital, then, why does nobody teach us how to be better communicators? As it turns out, communication is the key to creating the life you want – both at work and outside of the daily hustle.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to instantly be a better communicator:
Just like everyone has a different personality type, it’s important to know that there are 4 dominant types of communicators. Some are very data and fact driven, whilst others are more ‘big picture thinkers’. Some people communicate very meticulously and clearly, whereas others may jump around in their story. There are numerous free assessments that you can take online. These will help you figure out what type of communicator you are and will also help you to be able to recognize the other 3 types. Once you have this knowledge, it’s easier to adapt your communication style, depending on your audience and their preferences.
2. Assertive, not Aggressive
In addition to the styles of communication, there are also ways of communicating that range from passive, to assertive. Be mindful of not being too aggressive when communicating, even if you are frustrated and angry. It’s better to be assertive and be decisive around communicating your point, but do so in a way that is respectful and empathetic. Remember that everyone has a story they aren’t sharing and everyone has hurt that they are hiding. Nobody likes to feel like they are being verbally attacked.
The most damaging thing that we are all guilty of, is making assumptions instead of seeking clarity. It’s important to remember that humans filter absolutely everything through the lens of their own self-awareness, their world view and emotional maturity. We see things not as they are, but as we are and this is a recipe for disaster. When we don’t actively seek to understand the intentions, motivations and behaviours of others, we make assumptions – based on our own ‘issues’ – and we often cause unnecessary conflict or strained relationships that could have been avoided, had we just been brave enough to clarify with the other person.
Ever noticed how important an agenda is for a meeting? Or how many meetings devolve into near chaos, regardless of an agenda? One of the main reasons for this, is that people are not clear on the purpose of the meeting or what goal or outcome it is that they are meant to achieve. By being clear on the purpose of a meeting or conversation upfront, you give others an opportunity to properly prepare and you also create the ability to ensure that people don’t dwell off topic or devolve into an unproductive waste of time
One of the biggest contributors to conflict and misunderstanding between people, is not necessarily what was said, but rather how it was said. Be mindful therefore, not only of the tone of your voice, but also your body language and facial expressions. Pay attention to how you are actually ‘framing’ the subject and what message you are communicating. No matter what it is that you have to communicate, there is always a way to frame the conversation so that you make your point and get the desired outcome, without offending the recipient or audience. Once again, it’s important that you plan the conversation and you are clear about the intention and goal of your message. This crucial planning step gives you the opportunity to be mindful of exactly what you want to achieve and to choose your words very carefully, so as to ensure you communicate with empathy and respect and that you focus on solutions and growth.
Everyone wants to feel that they matter and that they are being truly seen and truly heard. The best communicators amongst us, have mastered the art of listening more than they speak and of always seeking to truly understand. You absolutely cannot go wrong if you approach all conversations with the intention of ensuring that the other person felt seen and heard and understood. It requires that you are brave and bold enough to ask questions and seek clarity or to confront your own biases and unlearn some nasty habits – like interrupting or hijacking the conversation and making it about you. By simply practicing the tips in this article, you will find people will be drawn to your warmth, empathy and authentic intentions and you will build really rewarding interpersonal relationships – like a real Girl Boss should do.
Deborah Hartung is a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker. She has spent almost 20 years advising corporates on matters relating to employee relations, corporate culture and leadership development. Deborah is passionate about people and technology, the human experience in the workplace and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Deborah lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is committed to ensuring that her children – daughter, Reagan and son, Owen – have as many adventures and experiences as possible. Amongst her friends she is known as the woman who always needs at least SPF50 sunscreen and someone who can trip and fall whilst barefoot and stone cold sober. A big fan of tequila, craft beer and MCC, Deborah loves entertaining friends and is secretly a rather big fan of baking.