One of the most frustrating things being a human can be communication. Communication is at the core of most of life's tensions, disagreements, quarreling, and complaining. How many times have you been in an argument (or as I like to call it “intense fellowship” ) and you made the statement “that is not what I am saying” or “don’t you understand.” In relational tension I've experienced that the greatest tension is understanding or being understood. As a leader, I choose to carry the responsibility of communicating. I don’t always communicate well, but I recognize that as John Maxwell says, “The leader can give up anything except final responsibility.”
Here are few things to keep in mind when communicating:
1. Communication is a conversation:
You cannot get communication without communing. I have been in a lot of conversations with my wife about what the other person did or did not say. At the end of the day what was said was not as important as what was heard. It doesn’t matter how many times I say it, what matters is that she understands it.
If nobody is listening you are just talking! You have a message to give the one you are communicating with, so make sure that they are listening and understanding. I would also add that make sure you are listening. Listening will not help your audience open up it will also help you to learn to better articulate what you are wanting to say.
2. Contextualize the conversation:
Living in the digital age we have so many ways to communicate. Yet it seems that the more options we have the more prone we are to miscommunicate. Every method carries a value and the value of our communication must be put on the proper place on that scale. For instance, you would not want to ask for a hand in marriage through texting (unless you want the answer to be no). Tone, body language, facial expression, all of these things help communication happen. Remove those elements and you leave more room for confusion. Contextualize the conversations on the scale based upon the weightiness of the topic.
1- Public post (social media)
2- Digital Messaging/Texting
3- Phone call
4- Personal face to face conversation
3. Confirmation completes communication:
Just because it has been spoken, posted, typed, screamed, over emphasized, doesn’t mean it has been communicated. If you are a leader it is not just your job to “tell it” you have to do your best to get confirmation. I make it a rule that until what I communicated is confirmed back to me, communication has not happened.
I had the honor of working under Pastor Richie Brown in Amarillo, TX for a couple of years. One day I was expressing some frustrations with people that would not responded to what I was trying to say. Pastor Richie shared with me some words I will never forget, “message received is message sent.” In other words, just because I said something, doesn't mean that communication happened.
I hope these 3 simple steps will help you communicate all the things you are trying to convey! Our relationships are everything and we should all be willing to grow in our skills to communicate with our teams & loved ones!
Since September 11, 2001, our nation has been more aware of those serving in civic duties. One of the roles that has become vitally important to our culture is first responders. First responders are the first ones to show up at an emergency and are trained and equipped to deal with a crisis.
In leadership, many times we see ourselves as first responders because we often deal with a crisis or urgent situations. We are being equipped and trained to deal with urgency, so as leaders we have to be great responders and not simply reactive to drama and dilemmas.
I want to take you a little further. Although being a first responder is a critical role of a leader, it is not our primary role. If we are not careful we can become managers of crises versus leaders of progress. One of the things that distinguishes good leaders from great leaders is their ability to see crises before they come; to see around the corner. If we are able to develop our leadership awareness, we will not only be better ready to respond to the crises of our culture, but we will actually be able to influence culture. We will always have crises to address, however, if we can steer culture to be less incident prone, we actually move into crisis-prevention.
Here are 3 ways to develop leadership awareness.
#1. Be Objective:
Learn to separate your opinion, your feelings, and your personal investment from reality. Don't get me wrong, as leaders we need to be emotionally connected to what we lead, but if we are not able to separate our emotional equity from a situation, we will move into self- preservation instead of cultural transformation.
#2. Study Trends and Patterns:
Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach a Trends and Issues class where we were discussing the issue of divorce. We started talking about all the emotional results with anger and frustration topping the list of children victimized by divorce. Studies show that close to 50% of marriages end in divorce, so it's no wonder we have such a hostile and violent culture! Maybe the solution to violence in America is strengthening the home? Knowing why something is happening is critical in preventing future occurrences. Let's focus on causation in an effort to see transformation!
#3. Ask the Bigger Questions:
What things could be established so that this crisis does not happen again? What is the issue beneath the issue? Most of the time we tend to address the symptoms and the pain. We need to discover the source of the pain and address the root cause.
I encourage you to be more observant in the midst of crisis. Be a great first responder, but always take the time to reflect on what can we do to avoid these issues in the future!