The Secret to Being an Effective Communicator

by Brad Harmon on August 17, 2010 in Leadership

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Effective communications is an essential part of any successful enterprise.  Why, then, are so many business owners and leaders really bad at it?   40% of professionals wanting to quit their job this year cite the lack of communication and involvement by top management as a contributing factor for their desire to throw in the towel.  31% blame unclear priorities and lack of a corporate vision.

As leaders, our job is to take a concept that’s in our heads and bring it to life through the actions of our people.  This requires us to communicate with them either verbally or through written materials.  Ideally, we’d simply speak and have our ideas transmitted perfectly effecting the desired result.

And God Said – Speaking Ideas into Existence

It seems impossible to write a month long series on entrepreneurial lessons from Creation without mentioning the phrase, “And God said.”

This familiar refrain of Genesis 1 shows us God speaking into existence His concept – our world.  Of course, it wouldn’t have been much of a tale if it wasn’t followed by another refrain, “and it was so.”

Having only been made in His image, we cannot literally speak our concepts into existence.  The question for us, as leaders, becomes how can we communicate in such a manner where what we speak filters down to the people who will “make it so” without the message being corrupted in the process?

The Irrevocable Nature of Words

First, you must understand that words have incredible power over how we think and act.  Once you fully grasp this concept, you’ll see that, once uttered, they take on an irrevocable nature.  It’s like cutting open a down-filled pillow in a hurricane and then trying to gather up all of the feathers.  It’s impossible.

Likewise, you can’t unspeak words once they’re said.  God tells us that His word will not return to him void – it accomplishes what He pleases (Isa 55:11).  Isaac understood this principle when he realized that his son, Jacob, had stolen the blessing of his older brother, Esau (Gen 27:32-38).

Even though Isaac favored Esau, and thought he was speaking the blessing over him, he could not revoke the blessing which he was tricked into giving to Jacob.  Like God, our words do not return back to us empty either.

Choose Your Words Wisely

Given the power that words hold combined with their irrevocable nature, it’s imperative that we learn to choose our words wisely.

2Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words. – Ecclesiastes 5:2-3

It’s easy to provide our own interference that distorts the message we are trying to convey by using too many words.  I, myself, am prone to be verbose and have seen how my message was lost to my people amidst the flurry of my words.

Sometimes, the best form of communication for leaders is simply to say nothing at all.  A well thought out response is always better than a flip, uniformed, or hurried one.  When a situation requires haste, make sure you follow up promptly to see if more clarity is needed.

Expect Your Words to Bring the Desired Result

If your people are properly briefed, trained, resourced, and supported then believe in them to deliver the results.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for.”  We need to develop that same sense of faith in our people.

We need to be like the centurion, in Matthew 8:5-10, who told Jesus that He only needed to speak the words and his servant would be healed.  He understood how to lead people through effective communication.  He knew that all he had to do was tell his servants what to do and it would be done.

The Secret to Being an Effective Communicator

Effective communication rarely happens accidentally.  It is a skill that leaders must continually practice – usually through trial and error.

The secret to becoming a great communicator and leader is

  • understanding the power words carry
  • appreciating the irrevocable nature of uttered words
  • choosing your words on purpose
  • believing that your people will accomplish what you tell them to do
  • monitoring and following up with your people

Are you a great communicator, or do you know one?  What is it that makes you (them) so effective?  Will you share your secrets, or tips, with us?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Edmondson August 17, 2010 at 1:50 am

Thanks for the link here Brad.
Ron Edmondson recently posted..40 of Professionals Ready to Quit Work

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Brad Harmon August 17, 2010 at 2:39 am

My pleasure Ron. You always have great posts on your blog, so I am happy to link to them whenever I can.

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Bradley J. Moore August 17, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hey Brad, I really like the new design of your blog! (jealous!) It is really clean and cool.

Another important aspect of communicating is how those words get communicated – the art of presenting, especially when it is in a more formal setting. I am not much of a story-teller, but I have been reading about the power of telling stories as a way of communicating and getting people to understand and follow a vision.

Thanks for this – I will be thinking about my words today!

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Brad Harmon August 17, 2010 at 11:27 am

Thanks Brad. There’s still a few more things I want to do with the site, but I like how it’s coming along too.

Great observation. Jesus was a master at telling stories (or parables) to get his point across. Another person who is great at this is Zig Ziglar. Being able to tell a great story that also reinforces your message is an art form as you point out. It’s something I’m still trying to develop, but you do a pretty good job with it on your blog.

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Chad Galbreath September 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Brad-

I love this post. It is amazing how many of us fear public speaking. The problem is once we lead an organization that has more than a handful of people even our own staff meetings become public speaking opportunities. If we as leaders are not comfortable speaking and leading our core team members it greatly minimizes our ability to carry that vision to a larger group of people.

One of my favorite communicators is Andy Stanley, lead Pastor at North Pointe ministries. His book communicate for a change has greatly helped me shape my own messages. He teaches us how to communicate 1 thing at a time and to do it well so that people actually remember what it is we have said.
Chad Galbreath recently posted..Speaking Less Saying More

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Brad Harmon September 3, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I remember reading that at one point public speaking was above death on the things that people feared the most. Now that’s some fear. The sad part is that you don’t have to be a dynamite public speaker to be very effective. Sincerity, simplicity, and repetition is often all you need. I did not mention simplicity in the post, but it’s a great point. Thanks for bringing it up.
Brad Harmon recently posted..What the Future Holds for this Site

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