Today, on the podcast, we are answering a question that came in from one of our listeners.
Justin writes, “I have to start with the obvious. Thanks for all that you guys are doing and keep killing it. I know you’re always open to suggestions for podcast topics, and yes we are, so I wanted to throw out the idea of doing something high level on communication, and maybe topic in with your top 10 recommended books on communication.
I loved your list on the poverty mindset. I know how important you think communication is, and I think most of your listeners could benefit from what you have to say on the topic and from the books you recommend. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.”
Thank you Justin, we appreciate all of that. I’m going to answer Justin’s question but before I do I have created a tool for you to use to help you better communicate.
There are some do’s and some don’ts of body language when you’re communicating effectively. So make sure that you get today’s download if you want to know these things, and you want the power of understanding body language, and the things to do and not to do for effective communication.
Now on to Justin’s question. Here are eleven ways that will help you have high levels of quality communication.
To have great communication skills, you have to start with caring for the other person. Yes, I said caring! Caring that they are not only an emotional being, but that they are a child of the Most High God! Which means He cares about how you treat them!
For communication sake, caring means that you are focused on leaning in the direction of the other person, so they can successfully understand what you are saying. This happens by understanding how they receive information, by staying calm, being focused, polite, interested, and to match the mood or emotion of the situation.
You first have to understand the person you’re talking to. How do they receive information? If they received it in sound bytes, it they need the scroll that is 10-feet long, if they need energy and excitement with it, if they need understanding and the least amount of conflict.
Whatever it is, you have to start by understanding how they receive information. That way, you can give it to them well. By staying calm in the process, by being focused on the things that you’re saying, by being polite, by caring about matching the emotion of the situation, whatever that is, the mood of the situation, make sure that you are following all of these pieces.
We are so usually focused on our own feelings that we don’t think about how difficult we make it for others when we communicate. I watch people be so absolutely short in their verbal communication, and give so little detail that there is no wonder why the other person doesn’t understand. If that is you, you’re not doing a good job verbally giving information.
Your body language is constantly speaking. I am always watching every bit of body language from our attendees. It doesn’t matter who it is. Anybody coming in, I’m always watching body language. It’s nonstop. It tells me a ton about what they are experiencing.
It even tells me what they’re thinking. I can see things by the way that they respond. You can see specific responses that will tell you what people are thinking. There are all kinds of things that I watch. I watch whether people cross their legs.
Do they cross them towards somebody against, away from somebody, whatever it is? Do they put themselves in a position of power, where they feel more powerful when they’re talking?
All of that stuff is nonverbal communication, all of your facial expressions, your eye contact, whether you have it or whether you don’t, your posture, your gestures with your extremities.
Even the way you position yourself physically in a room, where you put yourself, where you stand, do you put yourself in the middle of conversations? Do you put yourself to the outside?
Whatever that is, all of that is revealing a lot about you, and for better or for worse. It could be good. It could be bad. Either way, you’ve got to understand that your body language tells a ton. You’ve got to understand your non-verbals.
Great communicators are incredible listeners, not good listeners, incredible listeners. Crappy communicators cannot wait for the other person to take a breath, so they can speak. You know them.
You’ve experienced those people. That may be you. Listening is half of the equation that makes me great at leading and coaching people.
Without it, I wouldn’t have any clients. They wouldn’t want to hang around. If all you do is communicate what you think someone needs to hear without listening to them, how will you ever know if you’re communicating successfully? If you’re going to communicate well, you have to listen really well.
It needs to be at least equal to the content you’re communicating. Let me give a quick dive on that. You hear me say all the time it is your job as a leader to make your team successful. If you’re trying to make a team member successful, then your patience has to line up with the thing that you’re trying to teach.
If you’re trying to teach them or communicate to them how to make coffee, probably, not a whole lot of patience needed here. We probably need to run through this once or twice, but you really should have this after that. If you’re trying to delegate large tasks, then you have to have patience.
You have to understand that you may not be doing a great job communicating, or the way that they receive it may take more time. Understand that.
If you are just giving somebody an update, then understand that the patience for that is considerably less than making a team member successful on a large delegation project. If you’re giving an update, have the patience for them to ask questions, and make sure that they understand what it is that you’re updating on.
Then if the ox is in the ditch, if it’s an emergency, then the patience is considerably less. “Hey guys, this is something we’ve got to do right now. Now unless somebody has some phenomenal input, we’ve got to go. Go, go, go.”
I’m the kind of leader who is always trying to teach. I’m always trying to make my team successful. I would spend a lot of time making sure that they understand stuff. If there is an emergency, if there is something we’ve got to get after, then there’ve been times that I’ve walked up to a team member and said, “Hey, listen, I don’t have time to explain this.
I need you to do this. Just go in this direction right now. This is something we’ve got to do. We’ve got a problem. We’ve got an emergency. Just make this happen. I’ll explain later, or we can talk through, or when the situations are normal, then I will sit down and teach.
This isn’t the time for me to teach. I need you to go move in this direction.” You’ve got to have patience, but make sure that it’s equal to the content that you’re communicating.
Questioning is one of the best ways for you to gain perspective. It is the thing that shows people that you’re interested in them. It’s the thing that shows them that you’re listening. It also helps you to get a lot of information.
We don’t do a good job gaining perspectives. Since we’re not asking a lot of questions, since we’re not getting a lot of perspective, what tends to happen is we make uninformed decisions, or we show people that we don’t really care. We don’t want to dig further.
We don’t want to know more, and so they don’t care. They give up. You’ve got to make sure. Ask questions. Ask quality questions as well. Care enough to find out. The more perspective you have, the greater decision-making process you have.
Decision-making processes are usually junked up because of a lack of perspective. Make sure you’re asking great questions. I’m talking about the stuff that helps you to get real, good quality information. The more you do that, the better you’re going to be at communicating.
You have to respect people. You have to respect their situations and what they’re maybe going through. Stop and respect people. Respect their time. Respect their emotions.
In high levels of quality communication, you have to be able to identify exactly what the problem is. You do that by dissecting the problem, so it’s fully understood. This goes back to question asking, listening, and patience.
You do that by gaining the information, not just talking or making statements about it, but gaining great perspective and then setting up a system of strategies or objectives to solve the problem.
Then taking that information, and putting together whatever it is that you’re going to do to solve the problem, putting together some objectives to get this thing done, whatever that is. Great communicators are also great problem solvers, or at least they can guide information to getting the problem solved.
Understand you have to be in tune with other’s emotions. It is absolutely essential to understand. It is something that you need as an interpersonal skill. Is somebody going through something incredibly painful? Did they just lose a relative, or did they get fired from a job, or, or, or?”
Whatever that is, be aware. Be in tune. See how they are. Also, being aware of, like I said, what are people experiencing. If you’re the leader, what are they experiencing with the work that you’ve put on them? Have you done too much? Have you done too little? Are they being demeaned, whatever it is? Think about those things.
You have to be in control of your emotions. You have to be thinking about what is appropriate behavior. You have to be responding appropriately with appropriate behavior to the situation itself. What does it need?
If you’re flying off the handle on something that is absolutely small it does not require what’s nothing really requires, you’re flying off the handle. If you are overdoing it because you’re stressed out, if you’re overdoing it because of something you’re going through, you can’t just sit there and think, “Well, I’m going to respond this way. I don’t care what anybody thinks.”
It means you got to control yourself. You have to not get angry. There are times where I could be totally frustrated with a team member because of something that’s going on. The first question I have to ask, I have to self-manage myself, “Is this my fault? Did I not do a good job communicating? Am I the one to blame here? If not, then why didn’t I catch this?”
I first always try and look at myself, and say, “How are you the one who is contributing to this problem,” and solve it? Don’t get a little crazy. Don’t get frustrated. Understand what’s happening. Be aware of yourself. Be aware of your behavior.
Responsible and Accountable
You have to be responsible and accountable with your actions, with your communication. Responsibility says personal responsibility, being mature. If you say that you’re going to do something, actually do it.
If you say that you’re going to do something and you don’t, take responsibility. If something crashes or goes wrong because of something you did or did not do, take responsibility. “Guys, I am so sorry. That is my bad. I did that. I know I failed that. I screwed that up.” Whatever it is, take responsibility.
Also, hold yourself accountable for your own actions. One of the things I’m always doing or at least trying to do with myself is I’m always trying to tell myself, “Hey man, look at this situation. You need to act. You need to take responsibility. You need to apologize. You need to do whatever.”
That part of accountability and holding my own self accountable by calling my own self out helps me to be not only a great communicator, but it also gains a lot of respect. It also gains a lot of loyalty, because when others see that I am very quick to call myself, and I think I’m right, I think I’m right.
The moment I realize I’m not, “Hey, I’m wrong. I’m sorry, I’m wrong. I screwed that up. I did this or whatever.” That is a part of accountability. Get on it. Take responsibility. Hold yourself accountable.
This should not be used as a license to be a jerk. I am not talking about you being assertive in the jerk way, where you just start ripping on people. That is not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that it goes hand and hand with what you hear me saying when it comes to things like healthy boundaries.
If somebody’s trying to control you, trying to manipulate you, just not respecting you in this situation, then you may need to go ahead and give a little push back. You may need to go ahead and be a little assertive. Put a good healthy boundary in place. I am not saying being assertive by being a jerk. Please understand that.
These are all things that I want you to be thinking about. If you want to have high levels of quality communication, if you want to be a great communicator, if you want to lead your team well, if you want to do the things that create success for team members, create success for you, so you can communicate well in your relationships, in your work, whatever it is, then these are things you need to be focused on, things you need to be thinking about. By doing these, you would become a great communicator.
As promised, here are my top books for better communication:
- John C. Maxwell says if you want to succeed, you must learn how to connect with people. In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, Maxwell shares the Five Principles and Five Practices to develop the crucial skill of connecting
How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
- Three fundamental techniques in handling people
- The six ways to make people like you
- The twelve ways to win people to you way of thinking
- The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment
Safe People, by Henry Cloud, John Townsend
- Solid guidance for making safe choices in relationships, from friendships to romance. They help identify the nurturing people we all need in our lives, as well as ones we need to learn to avoid. Safe People will help you to recognize 20 traits of relationally untrustworthy people. Discover what makes some people relationally safe, and how to avoid unhealthy entanglements. You’ll learn about things within yourself that jeopardize your relational security. And you’ll find out what to do and what not to do to develop a balanced, healthy approach to relationships.
Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson
- Prepare for high-stakes situations
- Transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue
- Make it safe to talk about almost anything
- Be persuasive, not abrasive
Made To Stick, by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
- A book that will transform the way you communicate ideas, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.
Communicating for a Change, by Andy Stanley
- In Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley and Lane Jones offer a unique strategy for communicators seeking to deliver captivating and practical messages. In this highly creative presentation, the authors unpack seven concepts that will empower you to engage and impact your audience in a way that leaves them wanting more.
The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
- The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
- Focus and act on what can be controlled and influenced, instead of what can’t.
- Define clear measures of success and create a plan to achieve them for both life and work.
- Prioritize and achieve the most important goals instead of constantly reacting to urgencies.
- Develop innovative solutions that leverage diversity and satisfy all key stakeholders.
- Collaborate more effectively with others by building high-trust relationships of mutual benefit.
Boundaries, by Henry Cloud, John Townsend
- Biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.
We love hearing from you so please keep those questions coming!