Communicating as a Leader

The Importance of Communication Skills in a Successful Life

Peter Murphy asked:

Every day, in many ways, we communicate with other people. Sometimes it is verbally, other times it is through the written word, and we even do it non-verbally through what we call body language. For that matter, we can use images to communicate, and even a scent can carry a message. If we expect to get our point, our message, our meaning across, it is important that we have good communication skills.

In order to work in an office, function at school or interact with people in any situation, communication is needed. Let us say that you are an engineer, and you have designed a new two hundred unit residential development. Well, to get approval to build that project, there are forms to fill out and permits to obtain.

You will need to fill in applications and probably write some sort of report to outline exactly what you intend to do. Maybe there is a swamp nearby, a beautiful pristine wetland that is home to endangered animals. If that’s the case, people may protest your project; you may have to go before a city council or into court to argue that you should be allowed to build it. To do so, you will need to write up a clear, concise and easy to read report explaining every aspect of the development.

If a hearing is held, then you will probably have to get up in front of a crowd of people – some of them hostile – and verbally explain what you are planning, and answer questions. If you have pictures or computer graphics, and can show that your project will not hurt the environment, you will have a good chance of being approved.

On the other hand, perhaps you are engaged in something more mundane, like buying a car, or maybe a house. You will need to present yourself as speaking clearly, knowledgeably and with confidence. Here is where the ability to judge a person’s attitude comes in very handy. If you are negotiating with a car salesperson, or a realtor or homeowner, and you ask a question that is something they do not want to answer, they may give off a subtle signal. A slight twitch of the eyebrow or the corner of their mouth; maybe they look down before answering. It can be any one of a number of things. The point is, it can be a signal to you that something is not as it seems.

On the flip side, if you are the salesperson, you will want to be able to speak or communicate in a way that answers a question, but does not leave you open to suspicion. A classic example is the old question about a house: “Does the roof leak?” And you reply: “Only when it rains”. That kind of answer will sink your efforts at a sale. So, you have to learn how to put a positive spin on what you say or write. A house is not:”in the city,” it is: “conveniently located to the vibrant downtown district.”

When dealing with issues in your personal life, good communication is vital. If you are in a relationship with someone, communication is what keeps the relationship alive! More important than agreeing on everything is just the fact that you can talk, write, even IM each other and respect each other’s views. As a relationship deepens and expands, children may come into the picture. Once you are a parent, you face the difficult task of (eventually) trying to communicate with a teenager. Shudder! A sub-species of humans that often communicates via grunts and head shakes – at least to adults.

If you are intent on convincing your son / daughter to not smoke, not do drugs, not drink etc. then very good communication skills are vital. And, you cannot only use the verbal skills. Teenagers are experts are tuning their parents’ voices out. They have been hearing them since childhood, they can do it. You want to keep your teen from drinking and driving, talking is not enough. A pile of newspaper articles showing the horrid aftermaths of many such instances speaks volumes. There is the old saying: “A picture paints a thousand words.” Keep that one in mind, especially in dealing with teens on many issues.

So, whether in work, in your dealings with life, or in your personal life; the importance of communications skills cannot be underestimated.


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