Practicing Powerful Communication Skills

Think back to the worst boss, colleague, or employee you’ve ever had and then seriously consider what was lacking. It’s likely that you’ll include poor communications skills or perhaps a lack of commitment, both of which are consistently identified as key leadership traits.

Few people will argue with the assertion that being a powerful communicator is essential to personal and professional success.  However, that doesn’t mean powerful communicators are common among us. Becoming a powerful communicator begins with learning to speak the language of commitment and continuously practicing it.

Too many people take an undefined path toward an undetermined destination because they are unable to declare a future. That need not be the case. The ability to thrive at home and at work is closely tied to a stated vision for a desired future. It is easier to map out a pathway if you have some idea of where you want to end up.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice stops to ask the Cheshire Cat for directions. When the cat asks where she wants to go, Alice replies that it doesn’t much matter to her. The cat responds: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

As Yogi Berra once said: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

The spoken word carries great power and verbal declarations provide much of the stimulus needed to change behavior.

Once you are clear about your destination, declaring it allows you to create a future around it. Saying you’d like to run a marathon is an aspiration. Saying you’re going to run a marathon is a declaration. Words alone are not enough. However, the spoken word carries great power and social scientists say such verbal declarations provide much of the stimulus needed to change behavior.

Committed people use verbs such as “will” to declare their intentions. “I want to increase sales by 20 percent next year” doesn’t carry the same level of commitment and motivation as “I will increase sales by 20 percent next year.” The latter spurs you into action, requiring you to figure out how to make it happen.

Similarly, doubt can be a potent demotivator. “I can’t” is potentially as powerful as “I will.”

This all may sound rather simple, but it is not. Learning to speak the language of commitment and becoming a powerful communicator requires having a clear concept of what you stand for and then declaring a future around it that you attain through experiential learning and daily practice.

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