How Do the Best Leaders Avoid Miscommunication

Being able to communicate effectively is perhaps the most important of all leadership skills. It is what enables us to pass information to other people and to understand what is being said to us, the foundation of productivity and strong relationships.

It was Dale Carnegie who stated, in How to Win Friends and Influence People, that 90 percent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication. Here are some of the ways the best avoid miscommunication:

They listen to understand. People want to know they’re being heard. The best leaders take care to really listen to what the other person is saying instead of thinking about their own response. They are constantly asking for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. Taking the trouble to build understanding lets the person you’re speaking with know that you’re taking them seriously.

They think before they speak. The best leaders are good at pausing before they speak instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind. They take a moment to think things through, paying close attention to what they say and how they say it. If you adopt only one habit to improve your communication skills, this is the one to choose.

They know their audience: To communicate effectively, it is important to first know who it is you’re speaking to. The best leaders understand that each listener is different—whether it’s an individual or a group—and make sure to consider their background, expectations and cultural norms before they speak. Even difficult messages are better received when they’re delivered in a way that’s focused on the recipient.

They treat everyone equally. The best leaders never talk down to anyone but treat everyone with the same respect. No one will want to hear from you if you seem to be holding yourself above them, but communication opens up when you treat everyone as equals.

They manage their tone. Communication is far more difficult if you let your emotions go unchecked. The best leaders know how to manage their emotions in times of anger, sorrow, fear and joy. They may express emotion in their words and nonverbally, but they do so appropriately, maintaining a tone of confidence and calmness.

They’re attentive. Much of the power of communication lies not with what we say but with how we say it. The best leaders adopt the practice of listening more than they speak, and they’re attentive to the person who is in front of them. Your full presence is among the most important gifts you can give. And the more attuned you are to what others are saying, the more precise you can be in your response.

They maintain a positive attitude. The best leaders make a concerted effort to always have a positive attitude. When you communicate with positivity, people will generally respond in the same way. Whatever you send out as a leader is usually returned to you, so own the power of contagious positivity.

Communicating effectively is a skill you can practice and develop once you’ve learned the basic techniques. If you want to be your best as a leader, learn to be your best as a communicator.

Lead from within: The best leaders grow by constantly practicing their communication skills, because communication make us who we are.

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