Have you ever wanted a conversation to go well but it somehow didn’t? Ever wondered what’s “off” in a relationship that should be better?
Sometimes it all comes down to communication.
This summer a simple question turned into an extraordinary conversation between my college-age daughter and me.
“What do you think makes a good mom?”
Her answers were insightful and affirming. Then she paused and a sly smile spread across her face. “But there was this one thing you could have done a bit better…”
We both grinned. I knew exactly what she meant. During her early teen years we had miscommunication and conflict over one repeated issue.
“I know your motives were good, but your execution — not always so great.”
She was right.
Whether we’re leading our children, our church or our corporation, the ability to effectively lead is tied to our ability to effectively communicate. The truth is, even when our motives are right, our methods can sometimes be wrong.
One simple communication principle can turn so-so communication into successful communication:
Communicate your care before you communicate your content. Here’s how:
1. Open with Care
The women’s director at my church communicates care before she communicates content with the first three words of every email: “Hey Sweet Friend!”
Is it any wonder people love working for her, respond to her new ideas and respect her as a person and a mentor?
2. Realize Your Motives Affect Your Method
Before diving into a potentially sticky conversation ask, “What do I want to happen as a result of this conversation?” Right motives don’t always lead to right methods, but wrong motives always lead to wrong methods
3. Keep It Consistent
Good leaders don’t assume people know they care. Regularly encourage those you lead. When you accentuate the positive consistently you’ll be able to address the negative compassionately.
4. How You Say What You Say Matters
The simple act of giving your full attention shows care. Smiles, nods, tone of voice and eye-contact communicate value. This holds especially true in difficult conversations where it’s tempting to avoid eye-contact. Show respect by speaking eyeball to eyeball, even when the conversation is hard.
5. Listen More, Talk Less
Questions like “How are you doing personally?” and “Is there anything I can provide to help you be more effective?” provide valuable insight for leaders and communicate genuine care for team members.
6. Keep the Problem the Problem.
When opinions differ, it’s easy to make a person the problem. Attack problems, not people. Even people with differing perspectives can work together successfully if they attack issues instead of each other.
BONUS: Leave a comment sharing how you communicate care and be entered to win a copy of Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God by Donna Jones. Winner will be randomly selected from comments left by November 11, 2015.
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