A vice president in an engineering firm called us. “I’m in a tight spot,” he said. “I have a great team, and we’re performing at an all-time high. But I’m losing the support of the board. I’ve made a few mistakes and even a few enemies. I’ve got three strikes against me, but I want to turn it all around.”
He asked, “How can I get back on track and renew strained relationships with key stakeholders?”
In another call, the head of a large department told us about her opportunity to move across the country for a new leadership role.
“I need your help,” the new director explained. “My department is a hostile environment. People don’t listen to one another. There’s a great divide, and people are unhappy and unwilling to engage.”
She asked, “What can I do to start creating positive change?”
A director from a large international travel firm emailed us to say he was struggling. The pandemic forced the organization to restructure. Colleagues were fired. Morale was at an all-time low, and employee turnover was making it difficult to gain any forward momentum.
The director wanted to know, “How can we turn our team around?”
These are real, complex questions that demand practical solutions. They cut across the business sector, the public and nonprofit world, and higher education. Yet the remedy for these issues is the same: success depends on whether these leaders are able to communicate effectively and positively.
Choosing Positive Communication
As leaders, our intentions may be great and our commitments strong, but what ultimately matters in leadership is what we do—and how we do it. It’s the way you interact with the cleaning staff on a Friday afternoon. It’s the phone call you make to an employee who lost a loved one. It’s the encouraging note you send out to your team to inspire their best performance. It’s the way you respond to an unexpected crisis.
You’re in a leadership role because you want to make a greater impact. If you’re like the many leaders we’ve met and worked with, you want to create a great culture where people feel valued and achieve extraordinary results. You want to support your employees and keep them engaged. You need to lead meetings that are productive and enjoyable and produce a positive climate for all.
You know what you need to do, but you may not know how to get there yet. That’s where positive communication comes in.
6 Positive Communication Techniques
Most professionals agree that communication is a crucial leadership skill. Still, it’s difficult to determine what that means in practice. Deciding how to communicate isn’t always easy. We often don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to approach a variety of situations.
Fortunately, decades of research and experience show you where to start.
Greet to create human contact. The act of greeting acknowledges that other people exist and naturally moves us in the direction of others. As a leader, you need to create lots of connections with people and be able to repair relationships when they’re not doing well. When you master the act of greeting, you’ll create and expand relationships. When you choose to greet others, you create human connections.
Ask questions to discover the unknown. The questions you ask shape the answers you receive. As a leader, then, you need to place yourself in a position to discover what you don’t know to better support the people you lead. When you choose to ask open, meaningful questions, you discover the unknown.
Give compliments to affect others’ sense of self. What you say and do shapes not just who you are but how other people fundamentally see themselves. As a leader, you can use the power of communication to affect others. When you choose to compliment, you’ll affect not only who people are in the moment but also who they become.
Disclose more to deepen your relationships. Disclosure occurs anytime you reveal something personal to others. It includes a leader’s ability to be transparent, to share knowledge, and to express gratitude. When you choose to disclose—even if you feel vulnerable doing so—you’re deepening your relationships.
Encourage your people. Every workplace faces challenges. Every person needs support. Leadership is both managing organizational crises and finding ways to motivate and encourage employees. When you choose to encourage, you’re using communication as a gift and providing the necessary social support people need to succeed.
Improve how you listen to transcend differences. At a personal level, leaders need to learn and practice deep listening. At an organizational level, they need to make sure that employees feel heard. In today’s climate, more than ever, leaders need to listen to overcome the differences that exist between people. When you choose to listen deeply, you will transcend perceived differences.
These Small Actions Add Up
These are small actions that have a big impact. When you practice all of them consistently and holistically, you become a positive leader. Mastering the art of positive communication will help you achieve what may seem impossible: influencing and inspiring your team for greatness—and leveling up your leadership game.
Written by Julien Mirivel.
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