In our Management Diploma you’ll be exposed to the three basic communication skills: speaking, listening, and asking questions.
Speaking skills are essential for a good leader.
You have to be able to:
- Plan and organise what you are going to say
- Use appropriate language for the target group
- Modulate and vary your voice
- Ensure that your non verbal messages support delivery slowly
- Speak clearly
Make eye contact with people.
‘The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen the more and talk the less.’
Zeno of Citium, Greek philosopher (3rd century AD)
As a leader you are the key member of the group. To maximise use of team members’ contributions you will need to become an active listener.
It is often said that it pays to listen twice as much as we talk. However there is a difference between listening and hearing.
Have you ever been in the situation where the person you are talking to can repeat what you were saying but you still don’t feel listened to? This is usually because they have not been actively listening. Passive listening, or listening without demonstrating interest, can have a negative effect on communication.
Here are some good tips on active listening :
Active listening http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm
Tips for active listening http://www.iamnext.com/people/listen.html
Non-verbal communication can have an effect on the relationship between you and your learner.
For example, when asking questions, the use of non-verbal responses can be important. To pause after a question is answered may indicate to the learner to elaborate on what they have said. However, to remain silent too long might be perceived as threatening.
You can encourage the learner to continue to speak by leaning forward, adopting a body position that indicates interest and responding positively with favourable noises, such as (‘Uh-uh’, ‘Mmmm’, ‘yes’, ‘OK’). A simple nod may also be encouraging.
Generally, how we say something may have as much impact as what we say.
Non-verbal signals include:
- How we sit – this includes whether we are fidgeting, whether we have an open posture (or whether the posture is too open and therefore confronting)
- How we stand – generally a person who crosses their arms is putting up a barrier between themselves and the other person and may therefore be uncomfortable with that person
- Our facial expressions – do we look happy, interested, nervous, annoyed?
- Eye contact – is the eye contact we have with others culturally respectful?
- Physical space – are we providing others with appropriate physical space for them to feel comfortable?
- Vocal tone – the tone of voice you use with your learner needs to be non-judgemental and inquisitive. This means inviting the learner to feel comfortable expressing thoughts, providing information and exploring issues on a deeper level.
Body language is the unspoken communication that goes on in every face-to-face encounter with another human being. It tells you someone’s true feelings towards you and how well your words are being received.
Your ability to read and understand your learner’s body language, as well as control the message that you transmit through your own body language, can mean the difference between making a great impression or a very bad one. We communicate a great deal about how we feel by facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact, pauses, hand movements and body postures.
Different cultures interpret body signals differently.
Non-verbal signals may change as the relationship develops. They may also be different depending on how things are going in the relationship or in the learning pathway.
Interpreting one gesture in isolation is a mistake. You should look for ‘clusters’ of gestures, and note the context in which the body language is used.
Questions can be used to:
• Gain information
• Boost self esteem of team members
• Encourage creative thinking
• Promote discussion
• Encourage participation
• Check understanding
• Pool information
• Establish facts
• Review previous work
• Seek opinions
• Encourage feedback
Questions should be phrased carefully to encourage team members to elaborate and expand ideas.
Open questions are often the most useful type to ask because they can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Open questions begin with Who, How, Which, What, Where, Why etc…
Types of questions
Asking specific facts, in order to establish existing levels of knowledge or recap ground already covered.
These are the questions that actually help people learn.
Use to help understanding by breaking a complex point down into small steps, the solution of each step leading on to the next.
Questions should be phrased to enable trainees to work out each step for themselves. Encourage trainees to apply what they know to problems to which they do not know the answers.
It can be valuable to seek information about peoples’ opinions, values and feelings, particularly where you are discussing areas of best practice, or trying to change behaviour. They can also be useful in achieving an atmosphere of openness and trust.
Using questions to overcome difficulties
In an effort to overcome a team members objections to their suggestions, less skilled leaders often make the mistake of trying to bluff their way through by making statements of opinion, snowballing the facts, telling the team member that they are wrong, making threats or asking leading questions that put the learner on the defensive. Less skilled leaders may be fearful of discussing the situation and they may fail to take into account the team member’s viewpoint or to recognise their needs.
A more useful approach is to open up the discussion to reveal fully any stumbling blocks and then to locate and build up the areas of agreement.
Published by: LMIT