3 Keys to Effective Communication in Transit
Many people believe leaders automatically possess effective communication skills. However, if you're a leader, you know this isn't necessarily true. You've probably met colleagues who demonstrate poor communication skills. You might even label yourself as having less-than-effective communication skills.
No matter where you fall on the effectiveness scale, most leaders agree that good communication is essential to great leadership. With that in mind, here are three keys to effective communication in transit that you can use immediately in your interactions with colleagues and customers.
It's More About "Being" Than "Doing"
Be a listener. Effective communication in transit, as in any field, starts with good listening. If you are to lead others well, you must first learn to listen well. Stephen Covey said it best in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." The best leaders start with the act of listening, and in transit, listening allows you to gain a better understanding of your colleagues and customers. As you gain insight into their world, you are in a better position to effectively and positively lead them.
Be an echo. You can become a better listener by practicing a communication skill called active listening. Active listening is when you occasionally repeat, or echo, key phrases said by the other party. By doing this, you demonstrate that you are engaged in the conversation. This practice also helps both parties track the main points of a discussion. One word of caution: when you overuse active listening, your echo loses effectiveness and can become irritating. The key to using active listening skills is to repeat "key phrases" and only do so "occasionally."
Be a mirror. In To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink explains how the chameleon effect is another excellent strategy for effective communication in transit. Basically, this is a way to connect with people by mirroring some of what they do. Most people naturally do this without realizing it, but the best communicators tap into this strategy to facilitate more effective communication. Just like with echoing, the key is not to overdo it, or else you end up playing a game of "monkey see, monkey do." That's manipulation. Instead, use mirroring to simply demonstrate that you are engaged and interested.
Action Step: Try using these three simple communication skills with colleagues and customers this week. As you do, not only will your communication skills improve, you'll likely see your relationships deepen and your effectiveness increase.