Essential Communication Skills for Leaders: Communicating Interpersonally (Part 3 of 4)

Employees crave more than basic information; they want to feel valued enough to receive it. They respond optimally when they know their leaders appreciate their engagement, involvement and commitment. When leaders communicate interpersonally, workers feel cared for and connectedness increases.

Practice considerate communication by attempting to understand others’ perspectives. Use honoring and appreciative language, and avoid accusatory or resentful approaches. Strive for face-to-face communication that builds relationships. I understand the necessity of indirect connections like the telephone, email or social media, but whenever possible, allow people to see how much you care with in-person dialogue or virtual in-person meetings.

Active listening is a vital communication skill. Many leaders focus only on what they want to say and deprioritize what others say to them. This damages communication and the trust leaders need to build with their people. Good communicators show they want to understand what others have to say. They ask questions and repeat back what they’ve heard for confirmation. Leaders who show transparency by admitting they may not initially grasp something gain trust and make greater relational progress.

Good communicators also want to confirm their audience understands the information they’re given. Ask open-ended questions to ensure you’ve succeeded. Simply asking if you were understood isn’t always adequate. Ask listeners for specific feedback: what they think about your information or the chance to voice alternative ideas.

Tell stories to communicate ideas and connect with people. Everyone loves to hear personal experiences, which you can use to illustrate concepts or offer analogies. Perhaps the best way to personalize your connections and enhance your communications is to be thankful for people’s attention.

As Dianna Booher puts it in Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2017), give people kudos whenever possible. Thank them out of habit, and show them how much you value communicating with them.

What do you think? Are you communicating interpersonally? Let’s talk!  You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.