Ask someone for communication advice,
and you’ll most often hear that you will improve your communication skills when you’re able to improve your connection to the person you’re communicating with. Improving your connection to the other person can be done by asking open ended questions, imagining the way they might perceive the situation and of course by listening very well. In short: you need to empathize more.
And even though I do see the value in this (of course), I am here to tell you that if you really want to be a better communicator (and a better leader), you’ll have to start listening to yourself.
Yes, people, you heard me correctly.
To improve your leadership and communication skills,
listen and connect to yourself BEFORE you start listening and connecting to the other person.
I realize this might be surprising. And confusing.
Because most people in leadership positions don’t seem to be challenged in that area at all.
But they are.
Let me explain.
We are all icebergs
As kids, we tend to be pretty open about our motives, beliefs, emotions and feelings.
As we grow up, we learn to reveal a lot of this to be polite, to be liked, to fit in et cetera.
Harvard psychologist David McClelland determined we end up showing (in our behavior and the things we say) only 10% of who we really are. The other 90% is hidden ‘below the waterline’ of the big ‘icebergs’ we become.
But that 90% is not irrelevant. It actually has a BIG influence on our behavior. It explains why people sometimes respond emotionally to something that doesn’t effect someone else.
I hope I’m not getting to wishy-washy for you, but really: leadership is about you more then anything.
I believe knowing yourself is a really important factor for growing into a great leader. It’s also essential to learn to connect to yourself (your motives, beliefs, feelings etc) while in a conversation.
That way, you understand why you might feel insecure, let down, happy etc at any given moment. And you can consciously deal with it in an appropriate way, either by saying something about it or by dealing with it internally, preventing all sorts of outbursts or internal malfunctions ☺.
The concept of Speaking your Truth
In short, I named this Speaking your Truth and it’s a great way of getting to be the real you – even at work :). I’m absolutely positive that we all have the innate capacity to Speak our truth, and we’ll benefit hugely from starting to use that talent again, because that’s what the people around us will most appreciate.
For me, re-learning to Speak my Truth was what’s made all the difference when I was managing. When I learned how to Speak my Truth, and keep the connection with myself during conversations, I jumped from being an OK leader, to be being a pretty dawn good good one, if I say so myself :).
Speaking your Truth is a very powerful way of communicating, focused on connecting to the other person, but mainly to yourself.
Does this sound hard, vague or even really out there?
But give it a try. I know it’s worth every minute you spend learning it.
To help you get going, I made an Infographic, which is basically a manual to start Speaking your Truth.
Download your free copy of the Speaking your Truth Info Graphic here:
Speaking your Truth Infographic
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