We all know that great communications skills are an important attribute for leadership success. With a variety of new methods of communication becoming available to deliver key messages – from webinars to email and so on – it’s critical to find the most appropriate method for each new communication that needs to be made. Is our message suitable for email? Would a face to face meeting be better than a phone call? For every message that needs to be conveyed, there are options to be explored for maximum efficacy and creating new opportunities. When delivering your key messages, keep these three foundations of communications in mind for maximum impact:
1. Communicate Certain Messages Face to Face In a 1960s study conducted by Albert Mehrabian, the percentage of a message that is interpreted correctly comes mostly from the body language of the person giving the communication (55%), followed by tone (38%), and finally, the words used in the communication itself (7%). This finding illustrates that for certain kinds of communications, the words typed in an email may be altogether inadequate to express what’s truly needed.
2. Embrace Opportunities for Listening Are you talking more than you are listening? Are you not asking enough questions? We leave opportunities on the table when we fail to give others the forum in which to provide their input and feedback. When leaders listen, they open doors to finding new solutions and to making their direct reports feel valued. When we are talking instead of listening, we miss out on others’ ideas, we portray that we are disinterested, and our employees cease contributing.
3. Pursue An Understanding of Emotional Intelligence Knowing how to control your own feelings and emotions is an important first step to delivering effective messages. With emotional intelligence, we can monitor our own feelings as well as those of others, and strategically leverage our understanding of our feelings to motivate individuals, who may have vastly different values and personalities than our own, to achieve common goals. Use assessments in the workplace to heighten your understanding of your own emotional intelligence, and your understanding of the emotional intelligence of the individuals on your team.
Given the tendency towards the use of email in our daily business communications, we may not realize how much is left to interpretation and how many opportunities may have been lost along the way. With the understanding that more than 90% of communications is actually delivered using non-verbal methods, it becomes important to understand which communications are best reserved for face to face meetings. Leadership requires us to choose the most appropriate format for our communications so that new opportunities are created, and our overall interests are advanced. So be sure to take some time to think through your communications strategy to ensure that it includes face to face meetings where appropriate, ample opportunities for listening, and the use of emotional intelligence to achieve maximum impact.