Communication is an essential life skill for anyone and everyone. It's one of the earliest survival skills we learn as growing children. (How else would we have asked our parents for another cookie?) As we grow and become fully functioning human beings, communication only increases in complexity and importance -- especially when you're leading a company.
No matter what industry you're in or what size company you're leading, you're working constantly with different kinds of people. You've got internal team members and employees, clients, prospective clients, recruits, and other industry professionals, each with their own personalities and communication styles.
You even communicate in a lot of different ways: during meetings; via email, phone calls, and group messaging; through thought leadership content published online and on social media; and at industry events.
With countless audiences and vehicles to deliver your messages, it's easy to get lost in the chaos and revert to easy, disorganized messaging -- but that only leaves your team feeling more confused than informed. To clearly communicate your point and build trusting relationships, here are three things that leaders with impressive communication skills always practice:
1. They focus on developing a helpful mindset.
If you aren't ending all your conversations by asking, "How can I be the most help to you moving forward?" then you're missing out on a massive opportunity for connection. Ending all my conversations with this one simple question (or one along those lines) has made a world of difference in my ability to connect with people and build long-lasting relationships. Obviously, you have to be authentic with your word and follow through, but offering help demonstrates that you care about people.
Kelby Price, director of sales and marketing at IR Optimizer, explains how having a helpful mindset can not only improve communication but also lead to better solutions:
"A leader with a helpful mindset checks his or her ego at the door. Instead of focusing on the individual, this leader looks at problems from a solutions-focused perspective. This outlook allows for communicators and leaders to be more open to team collaboration, understanding that working together often results in more effective and efficient results."
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2. They show their presence with consistency.
Obviously, I don't mean consistently lazy or consistently insincere. Your audience should be able to trust you and rely on you to respond. This means communicating consistently in two main ways: through your tone and frequency.
This applies to your communication in all its forms: in person, on stage at speaking events, via email, and through your digital content. Think about it: If you're communicating in a way that's really laid-back and fun one minute and then really buttoned-up and formal the next, you'll throw off people in your audience -- and that just reinforces trust barriers between you.
Good communicators are also frequent communicators; they keep communication open and don't ghost people. You wouldn't execute a social distribution strategy that only had you sharing content once every few days. Particularly with your published content, you wouldn't write one or two awesome articles and then wait five months before creating anything again.
Your audience needs to be able to count on you, so develop a publishing schedule in your editorial calendar, and stick to it. (By the way, there are plenty more free content marketing tools out there that can help you and your team make this process easier.)
3. They aren't afraid to be authentic.
When my oldest daughter was about 3 years old, she loved "Aladdin." Every time we'd watch it together, she'd be having a great time until the part when Aladdin pretends to be a prince to make Princess Jasmine like him. At that point, I'd see her get mildly frustrated; she would ask why he does that instead of just being himself. What she was really upset by was his inauthenticity.
I truly don't think we ever lose that ability to sense when people aren't being true to themselves. It puts us off and gives us a strange feeling. When you're genuine, people can tell. It puts others at ease and makes them more inclined to trust you -- which makes communication a lot easier and opportunity come more naturally. Good communicators don't sacrifice their authenticity to score cheap points by trying (and, more often than not, failing) to impress others.
Whether you're communicating in person, at a speaking engagement, or in an email, it's important to understand just how much what you say and how you say it matters. Your communication skills have the potential to leave a lasting impact on others -- make sure that impact is a positive one. Practice these three key skills, and you'll start noticing that expert communication opens endless doors of opportunity.