Open Communication Tips for Leaders

These communication tips are from the Toastmasters.org website and are not my original thoughts. I  am sharing them as a reminder to myself and maybe as helpful tips to anyone else who wants to encourage honest feedback, suggestions, and receive criticisms positively. _ Dave

Do you communicate openly and diplomatically at the same time? Those skills are the backbone of effective leadership, according to Keith Ferrazzi and Michelle Tillis Lederman, two speakers presenting at the 2018 International Convention in Chicago later this month. Ferrazzi, who will be honored with the Golden Gavel award, is a proponent of leaders creating a “culture of candor,” while Tillis Lederman emphasizes the importance of sharing opinions diplomatically. Specific to team leadership, here are a few of their best-practice communication ideas:

Encourage “caring” criticism

Present the idea that constructive negative feedback is a gift that can help improve performance or avoid mistakes. Persuade your team to use phrases like “I might suggest” and “Think about this” when giving feedback. On the receiving end, encourage them to regularly request one-on-one feedback from those most critical to their success. (In my Toastmasters club we often provide suggestions describing them as “gifts”.  For example – my gift to you would be to speak slower,  and incorporate more pauses. This will allow the listener to absorb more of your speech and connect with you.” 

Break it up

To get more voices heard, break a big meeting up into groups of two or three to brainstorm for a few minutes, then have a spokesperson from each group report back to the entire team. Smaller groups promote more risk-taking and increase the odds of getting collective group feedback. (This especially makes sense in large groups or training sessions, but I suggest you limit small group sessions to ten minutes max.)

Promote ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Encourage team members to give permission and gratitude for candid feedback. The idea is that candor often results in a reciprocal request for honest feedback and can accelerate closer team bonds. Immediately after the feedback, team members should thank their evaluator; then, later let them know how they’ve used the feedback constructively. (Often people are hesitant to be candid, they want to be liked, and don’t want to seem unfriendly or harsh. Just a reminder that feedback is just an opinion, something to be considered and accepted or rejected. I don’t always agree with an evaluation but I do always appreciate honesty if it is meant to help me)

Be a (really) good listener

When there is team conflict or a difference of opinion, it often falls on the leader to mediate. But often, that simply means being a good listener. Allow both parties to vent and express their opinions openly and constructively. Sometimes, that will be enough to rectify the situation. (Tricky I think, but I wonder how many problems could be avoided if people really felt heard?)

Practice ‘acknowledge and add’

When the time comes for a difference of opinion, do not dismiss, offend or shut the other person down. But also, don’t agree—instead, add to their viewpoint. That means responding with, “That’s an interesting perspective. Another perspective is … ” Or, “I hadn’t thought of that. What I was thinking was …” In both instances, you’re not discounting or dismissing the other person’s opinion; you’re simply adding your own to the conversation. Lead by example with this technique. Let your team know that people listen best when they feel they have been heard. (This is something I know takes skill and practice. It allows others to contribute without disagreement. Seeking understanding and negotiate consensus takes listening skills and acknowledgement of the individual.)

Communication is not optional in life, whether it is with your best friend, your family or in an organization.  Part of communication is being a good listener and providing feedback that shares you were paying attention and not just waiting your turn to speak. Good luck in all your communication! – Dave

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About dfolstad58

I live in the South Okanagan. BC. I enjoy reading, exercise, toastmasters. spending time with my son, my daughter, & her husband , and my patient wife. I try to respond personally to every comment on my blog, and in this way I hope to get to know my readers a little bit and say thank you for their encouragement and suggestions.
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18 Responses to Open Communication Tips for Leaders

  1. Great post Dave. Thank you. I’m curious-are Canadians as divided politically as Americans? It’s terrible here. There is very little communication between “liberals” and “conservatives” other than once they identify one another as such, they immediately dismiss the other and start insulting and blaming. UGH! I don’t see how we will ever work together on all the important issues we face if things don’t change pretty radically.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dfolstad58 says:

      I suspect Canadian voters are similar to Americans. In my opinion not enough time, and effort is usually spent by individuals to investigate issues and challenge the politicians. It’s probably that way on both sides of the border.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Is there a lot of animosity between parties? I am not a parisan person, being an independent, so I really don’t understand the dogged dedication to party politics that I see on the part of my countrymen.

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      • dfolstad58 says:

        Not much animosity. Canadians do get emotional about issues important to them but most don’t do so on the basis of party affiliation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hurrah for Canadians then, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dfolstad58 says:

        We are bombarded with information from USA networks and follow your politics closely. It is fascinating to me how Fox network and CNN report on identical news items but the slant is opposite by each. Today again I listened to the White House press secretary speak with complete disdain to media blaming them for Trumps latest predicament and everything else evil in history.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This administration is at war with the truth. It’s alarming to say the least. I have tried to tell folks that it’s not the mainstream media, it’s the man, who has the problem, but alas, people who want to believe him, for whatever reason, do and probably always will. America is paying the price for being so egocentric. Humility is identified as weakness, integrity is an anomaly and branding is everything. I would very much like my country back.

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  2. Dalo 2013 says:

    These are very wise words, especially for those who travel ~ communicating with interest and politeness is how great days begin. Great post, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ritesh Pathak says:

    Truly a great and inspiring article….
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    https://auntknow.com

    Like

  4. Rabindranath Pradhan says:

    Thanks for sharing.

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