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Eight Principles of How to Communicate to be Heard

Tags:  Communication Skills, Co-Workers, Team Leader, Communication style

According to experts at least 80 percent of a manager's day is spent in verbal communication. That's why it is not enough to promote just the most technically competent or senior workers, businesses must ensure that the leaders of tomorrow have the ability to build solid relationships with others – especially their staff. And to do this they must have highly developed supportive communication skills to be able to give proper constructive criticism.


Using supportive communication  is not a new concept; however, it is an important one. It relies on the belief that a message can be delivered accurately and in such a way as to provide empathy, understanding and support, so that a positive interpersonal relationship results. 


To help leaders (and future leaders) to communicate in an appropriate and supportive way, here are eight principles of effective communication:


Focus on the issue. Supportive communication is not about laying blame or labeling people by their actions. Instead of telling an employee that he is insensitive, consider explaining how and why his comments were sarcastic and inappropriate. Then explain how to eliminate or improve the inappropriate behavior.

Be sure the message is consistent. Every gesture tells a story. Make sure verbal communication matches with non-verbal actions. Don't say one thing, but act differently. Avoid sarcasm in the message.

Clearly communicate the areas of success and of concern.  To help managers communicate better, they should describe the behavior or event they have observed, their reaction to it and offer an acceptable alternative behavior.

Use two-way communication. To get buy-in and agreement managers need to allow the employee time to respond. Ask them for suggestions on how they might improve their performance or correct an inappropriate behavior.

Be specific, not global. Speak in specifics not broad terms. Instead of ""You're a poor manager"" say ""You spent an hour scheduling meetings today when your assistant could have done it.""  Instead of "You did a great job" say "You did a great job collecting all the data on time and on budget"  Communicate a message that identifies exact actions and behaviors so that the employee understands what they did wrong.

Stay focused. In order to deliver a credible message, be sure to stay on track and focus on only the issue at hand. Going off topic, even introducing a completely neutral issue into the counseling session, undermines the purpose.

Take responsibility for the communication. Instead of ""we feel"" say ""I feel.""  Don't dilute the message and lose credibility by pushing responsibility for the issue onto the shoulders of everyone else.

Listen actively. Hear what the employee has to say, even if it is only to defend themselves and their behavior. Acknowledge their reaction and concerns and then guide them back to expectations.


Utilizing these steps will not only enhance a manager's ability to communicate effectively and supportively with their staff, but will enhance the interactions they share.


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