Clearly Communicate the Complete Message

Skillful communication is the essential human connection. Sound communication techniques enable leaders to meet this most basic human yearning of people. Using constructive communication and persuasion skills saves time and effort, encourages cooperation, and reduces stress and friction. These skills are invaluable in handling and preventing crisis situations, fostering self-esteem, generating mutual respect, increasing productivity, and enriching relationships.

Planning the Total Message

Because communication is such a vital element of your personal and organizational success, take time to plan how you will deliver important messages to the members of your team. Effective planning considers the total message: content, method for delivery, and accommodation of the message to the unique personality of the receiver.

Be sure your thoughts are clearly presented, your reasoning is logical, and the message is complete. Check for unsupported assumptions or skipped steps in the reasoning process. If your own thinking is unclear, the content of your message will be unclear or confusing to the receiver. If you cannot crystallize your message, you may need to ask instead for information or a problem-solving discussion.

Adapt each message to the personality of the receiver. Knowledge of team members and your past experiences with them provide clues to the best structure for each particular message. Consider personal feelings, attitudes, and what may be occupying their attention when you attempt to communicate. All these factors affect how the individual is likely to respond; they strongly influence the manner in which you present your message.

Choose the words, rate of speaking, body movements, and the type of questions you ask to fit into the style of the person with whom you are communicating. Be willing to adapt your own communication style to the style of your listener. By doing so, you demonstrate basic concern for the needs of others and your desire to accomplish the goal at hand.

Environmental factors affect how the message is transmitted or received. Plan communication to minimize potential obstacles. For example, conduct complex, important communication away from noisy areas or excessive heat or cold. A paved parking lot in the middle of a hot summer day, for instance, is a poor choice of location for delivering any message other than a greeting or a quick, “Call me this afternoon, please.”

Both the meanings and the emotional impact of words, phrases, and other references are perceived differently by people with different experiences. Choose expressions that carry no emotional overtones that might cause ambiguous interpretations.

Be sure that the method you choose is the best one for the message you wish to send. Some communication is effective when verbal, either face-to-face or by telephone, while communicating in writing is better for other types of messages.

Listening for the Total Message

When you ask a question, listen creatively to the answer. Become an expert in listening not only to the words themselves, but to the manner of delivery as well as to what is not said. Observe and evaluate body language, emotion, attitudes, and other external or internal factors.

An obstacle to effective listening is that you can think faster than someone can talk. Most people speak at approximately 125 words per minute, but you can easily think at the rate of 400 to 600 words per minute. Use the extra time to organize and analyze what you hear and to consider cause-and-effect relationships.

Avoid selective listening – hearing only what pleases or fits into preconceived ideas. Listen with an open mind; resist any tendency to overreact. Making snap judgments or losing control of emotions, especially before you hear the entire message, destroys mutual understanding and cooperation. Control nonverbal behavior. Maintain comfortable eye contact and pay close attention to let others know you care about what they say.

Your skill in asking questions and listening attentively creates a climate of open communication in which team members feel that they have something valuable to offer, that there is much to learn, and that everyone shares common goals. As your verbal and listening skills improve, you improve your ability to get results through people.


Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

For more information about Strategic Essentials small business training and education programs or our coaching and consultation services please call our Reno office at 775.826.8282 today!

Strategic Essentials serves business owners, business leaders, entrepreneurs, managers, supervisors and decision makers in Reno, Sparks, and Carson City, Tahoe, Truckee Meadows and surrounding communities.