If words alone don’t do it….

May 3, 2009
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 3:06 pm

Q: I was dumbfounded when several of my team separately recalled verbatim what they were convinced I had told them. I never said those words. While they got the gist of the message, how do I ensure that I won’t be misunderstood next time?

A:  For a team leader to function effectively, your team must be clear about your directions. Your team may not have recalled your exact words, but it sounds like they were on the mark with your intended message.

Messages are sent to the listener on two levels simultaneously. Information is transmitted through your words. But studies show 65 to 80 per cent of the message is communicated non-verbally. Facial expression, eye contact, body posture, motions, tone of voice and attitude tell the real story.

If you say a deadline is firm, but your voice tone conveys the blasé quality of “whatever,” don’t be surprised when you’re off schedule.

When your spoken message and your attitude are contradictory, the receiver will interpret from your more accurate non-verbal cues — how the listener “experiences” your message not how they “hear” it.

Take a few extra minutes before you speak to be clear about your content and to be aware of your emotional state. Speak slowly and intentionally to monitor your delivery as well as your words. Your goal is for your non-verbal cues to be congruent with your information.

Understanding deepens when it flows two ways. How well are you hearing your team’s messages? Pay attention to their non-verbal cues this week. Who needs your recognition? Who is eager for a new challenge? Whose tank is empty? A successful leader “hears” and accurately responds to their team’s cues.

Originally printed in The Province on May 3, 2009.


Comments are closed.