Today, let’s focus some attention on one of the secrets of being a good communicator, because good communication sits at the foundation of every successful family, organization and nation.
If you take a look through the leadership programs available, you will see at least one common denominator, and that is typically “communication.” Very often, leadership style, or a lack of leadership style, revolves around the ability to communicate effectively. This ability is an art that can be learned.
How can we be more effective communicators? A really complete answer would require more time than we have space for in this post, but there is one thing anyone can do to make a quantum leap in the ability to communicate, and that is to become a better listener. Communication is less about hearing one’s own voice, and more about what is behind what the other person is saying.
Good listeners do far more than simply remain silent while someone else is speaking. They listen with their whole body, give signals that convey they are paying close attention, and invite more information with open-ended questions. These open-ended questions, by the way, are those that cannot be answered with “yes” or “no,” and invite the speaker to talk at greater length.
It’s the difference between saying, “Are you OK?” which begs for a quick yes-or-no answer that closes off any further conversation, and saying, “How are you doing now?” which invites much more. Good listeners also read body language and are sensitive to other nonverbal cues. When they get mixed or confusing messages, they aren’t afraid to ask questions to clarify.
More importantly, good listeners give you the feeling that, at least for the moment, there is nothing they’d rather be doing. They raise other people’s self-esteem by being interested and showing it. Even when they say very little, they are usually thought of as superb communicators.
We know how it feels to have someone’s undivided attention, that elevation of spirit and esteem. It’s a great feeling, and one that needs to be shared with others.