There is no question that honest, open communication is vital to effective leadership. But honesty is not always well received, so how do we keep communication positive?
Most of us say we want to know the truth, we often ask for honest feedback, or we tell people that we’re always here to listen to them. But are we really?
Honest communication can be confronting, it’s not always what we want to hear, but to run a successful business it’s always necessary.
Communication is fundamental to good leadership, they go hand in hand. It is the responsibility of the leader to make sure that conversations stay positive and productive. We can relay bad news in a fashion that it is accepted well. It’s all in the delivery.
When you are intending to communicate with your team, keep the objectives and goals in mind during the conversation.
Consider the following points to keep your communication positive:
Make a few notes on how you want the conversation to go and the points you want to make. Even the smallest preparation can help you to steer the conversation in a productive manner and avoid digression.
- Stick to the facts! Try and keep opinion and assumption out of the conversation. If you are addressing negative behaviour or results, stay on track.
- Don’t drag others into the conversation. While feedback from others may influence your decision to address the matter, don’t make hearsay part of the conversation. Talk about cold hard facts, what you have witnessed firsthand or data that reflects the points you are making.
- Don’t make it personal or insulting. When we are frustrated it can be tempting to have a go and let them know in no uncertain terms that we are unhappy but it will only make the situation worse. No one feels good when they are told they’re lazy, not performing or being seen as a failure.
- Look for solutions. Again, ask yourself what is the outcome you would like to see? Ask the person you are talking to what outcome they would like to see too.
- Listen! After you have voiced your concern ask them what they would like to say on the matter. There may be circumstances that you are unaware of. Encourage them to talk to you.
To reiterate, for positive, effective communication we need to give clear, objective information in a way that is positive and constructive.
Accept the fact that the other party may be unhappy with what you have to say. You aren’t in business to make friends. Some people will like you, some won’t, it’s inevitable and it’s okay. Trying to please others to the detriment of your business is not going to benefit anyone.