Revamp Your Career with These 10 Powerful Communication Hacks was originally published on uConnect External Content.
Great leaders are great communicators.
They use their personalities, voices, body language, and understanding of interpersonal dynamics to control situations and take charge.
“Communication is one of the so-called ‘soft skills that employers tell us are essential for career advancement. During my corporate career, I often noticed that the individuals who assumed leadership positions in even the most technical functional areas were the most effective communicators,” said Carl Zangerl, director of the communication program at Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies.
Being a strong communicator connects you to your team. If you convey an open, approachable leadership style, the individuals you supervise will feel more respected, which, in turn, boosts their morale and productivity.
But what if you think your communication skills need a tweak or two?
Here we’ll talk about ten communications hacks to boost your career.
1⃣ Articulate shared values.
Leaders know how to make their teams work together towards a shared vision and mission.
If a leader can talk about what a team is working towards in a way that feels meaningful to them, they’ll be better able to overcome their differences.
“Even when you are not the greatest of friends, you could work together for something you both believe in, feel strongly about, and [that] has mutual benefits,” said astronaut Scott Kelly (who flew to space four times) to the Harvard Business Review.
2⃣ Make yourself approachable.
Another important skill is being approachable enough that your team won’t hesitate to come to you with problems or issues.
To make yourself more approachable, think about how you come across. Do you let your moods rule your behavior? Do you sometimes say good morning to your coworkers and sometimes ignore them entirely? Do you nod and smile while your peers talk to you?
The best way to be perceived as approachable is through consistency, so make sure your team always knows what to expect from you.
3⃣ Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Another communication hacks that leaders often overlook vulnerability.
Whereas you might think that you constantly have to put forth a persona of strength, successful leaders also know when and how to be vulnerable.
Research professor and writer Brené Brown talk about how being vulnerable demonstrates courage to your team.
“I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. And I’ve come to the belief… that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage,” she said in a TED talk.
4⃣ Listen actively.
Some people believe that leaders just tell others what to think, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Strong leaders need to pay attention to what others are telling them. However, you can’t connect with your coworkers in this way unless you develop strong relationships with them beforehand. If they don’t feel close enough to share their thoughts, you don’t have the opportunity to actually listen to them.
“We tend to focus too much on delivering our messages and opinions and too little on listening. Understanding what others are trying to tell us – whether it’s face-to-face or via another medium – is the basis for shared action and collaboration,” said Zangerl.
5⃣ And encourage sharing by asking questions.
You also shouldn’t just assume your team will share with you whenever they have questions.
Instead, ask them specific and directed questions to draw out their opinions. Make sure they know that you value what they tell you, too, by using the feedback they give you to make a change.
6⃣ Tell stories.
We often think that statistics and data are the way to convince our audiences of what we’re talking about or writing about.
But this isn’t the truth. Instead, crafting stories from hard data actually draws in your audience – and makes them remember what you’re saying.
“If you want to persuade people of something, tell them a story about how someone else overcame a similar problem. If you want to inspire them, tell them a story about how you did something great. If you want to get people excited about something, tell them a story about what it will be like when they’re finished with it,” said Sandeep Kashyap for ProofHub.
7⃣ Use short, simple language.
This is another example of when we think we have to come across as smart and powerful to communicate effectively with our teams.
But another one of these communication hacks is to actually write at a high school level. Complex language is more difficult to read and understand, so simplify what you write.
“If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do,” said economist Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast, and Slow.
8⃣ Persuade your audience.
You’re not going to communicate with each audience exactly the same way.
Instead, you need to understand your audience and connect with them accordingly in order to persuade them to listen to what you’re saying.
“Communicators with strong persuasion skills can ‘read’ the room and have a keen awareness of their audience…Persuasive communicators make their offers or ideas tempting by presenting them in such a way that people believe they benefit from whatever it is that the persuader is convincing them to do,” said Northeastern University.
9⃣ Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Another component of successful communication is humor.
Though you don’t have to be a goofball (which likely doesn’t work for many leaders), weave humor into your communications if that feels natural to you. Again, use a sense of humor that feels natural to you to add a joke or a self-deprecating comment here and there.
Ask for feedback.
You can never know exactly how your communication style is coming across if you don’t ask for feedback from your team.
Do they want more team meetings? Do they feel like you have an approachable style? Do they want more opportunities to connect one on one?
The best way to decide if your communication style is working for your team is to ask them.
Communication Hacks to Boost Your Career
Being a strong communicator is important in developing your career.
But you don’t simply want to adopt all of these strategies simply because they work for other people. Before using any communication hacks, figure out who you are as a communicator and choose strategies that feel natural to you. Few leadership strategies are less effective than trying to be someone you’re not.
Interested in becoming a better communicator? Listen to our recent webinar, “The Future of Business Communication: Synthetic Media and Your Strategy.”