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Many job ads say that they want candidates to have good communication skills.
When I ask people to list the attributes or behaviours that they most admire in their leaders, being a “good communicator” comes up again and again.
The LinkedIn Learning Blog also indicates that communication is #2 in the top soft skills for career growth.
But what is good communication?
It’s easy to say we want it, but less common for everyone to know exactly what it means.
That’s why in this post, I’ll give my take on what good communication is, and the things to consider while you’re doing it.
Learn More: 5 Simple Steps to Communicate Effectively.
What Is Good Communication Really?
Let’s get straight to it with the major factors that I believe make up excellent communication.
These aren’t just about the words that are used, or about the message itself. It’s also about the manner in which we communicate, and the environment we create to enable communication.
1. Good Communication Means Thoughtfully Crafting Your Message
As good thoughtful leaders, we should be communicating thoughtfully, too.
This means thinking about the best way to present the information, so that other people can absorb and understand it.A few important ingredients to consider are:
- Why it matters: Why are you communicating? What is the reason that they need to understand the information you’re passing on?
- What they need to know:What are the key points? Are they very important or just for interest only? Optional or mandatory?
- Who needs to know: Are there certain people who need the information? Does it apply to everyone? What are the characteristics of the people you’re communicating with… and do they impact the message?
It’s easy to blast your message out to everyone and leave it up to the audience to take it in, or not.
That’s a lazy approach, and can take up a lot of people’s time.
When leaders communicate, there is a magnifying effect, because they often communicate with many people at once. Consider the example of email communication below.
In this example (which I created to illustrate the point), there is a 40 minute time saving from taking a little longer to craft the communication.
It might take you a bit longer to thoughtfully craft your message, but hopefully your audience will be able to understand and digest it much more easily.
The point? Thoughtfully crafting your message can result in more productive communication. Hopefully with less confusion, back and forth questions and misunderstandings which can take up everyone’s valuable time.
This doesn’t mean you need to take forever to communicate. A good rule of thumb is the more important your communication, the more time you spend.
Learn More: 5 Leadership Communication Principles to Help Your Team.
2. Thoughtfully Choose Your Medium of Communication
Next comes the medium, which is the channel you communicate with.
Email is an obvious and over-used medium. You only need to look at this Statista estimate to see that the number of emails per day is in the hundreds of billions.
These days we have a multitude of chat platforms at our disposal, too. Microsoft Teams, Slack and Discord are just a few. These allow us to shoot messages back and forth instantly, which is very convenient.
But of course, we also have the ability to make an old fashioned phone call, send a text, a video call or even have a face to face meeting.
It can all be very confusing.
In general, using more personal methods is beneficial for important communication. These are the methods which involve face to face, real-time communication.
The Medium You Choose Sends a Strong Message
Earlier in my career, I once sat next to somebody in an open-plan office who received a phone call from her manager, telling her that her position was being made redundant.
She was extremely upset, and everyone sitting around her knew it.
Not the most thoughtful medium of communication that could have been chosen.
What did this say about the manager, do you think?
In my view, this could have indicated a few things.
That either the manager had very little empathy for the plight of the employee (and her surroundings), little respect for the relationship or simply that the manager was very uncomfortable communicating this message, prompting them to choose a less personal medium.
Conversely, choosing a more personal medium can be a sign of respect. It also means you are taking accountability and fronting up, even if you might feel uncomfortable with the message you need to deliver.
Guidelines For Choosing Your Medium
When you’re choosing your medium for communication, consider the following:
- Importance. How important is it that you know the other person receives your message correctly, understands it, and can potentially provide feedback?
- Impact. What is the potential impact on the person receiving the message? Should they be receiving it in private, or is it a trivial matter?
- Relationship. Does the communication potentially impact the relationship? Choosing a more personal method might demonstrate your willingness to build or maintain your rapport with the person.
It’s also good to throw the “golden rule” out the window here. That is “treating others how you would like to be treated”.
This doesn’t hold up, because everyone is different.
Make an effort to understand your people and communicate with them in the way that they would prefer, depending on the situation.
Learn More: Thoughtful Leader Podcast #122: Suffering From a Communication Breakdown? Let’s Fix It.
3. Good Communication Means Getting the Timing Right
The timing of communication can be an important factor, too.
Communicating too early can have your people worrying needlessly, or absorbing information that they don’t need to use until later (and will forget).
Working out the right timing can be a challenge. You want to make sure you have the important information, you give people plenty of notice if they need to prepare, or are likely to be impacted by what you have to say.
This means the timing can only really be determined by being thoughtful about the content of your message in step 1.
One good rule to remember is “no surprises”!
Hardly anyone likes work surprises, especially those that will require extra effort or may involve a change in role or the team member’s situation.
4. Good Communication Means Considering the Impact
We covered it a little in the points above, but I think this needs to be reiterated.
Good communication also means planning for the potential impact that your communication may have.
For simple, everyday communication, you might not expect much impact from sending your message.
However, when you have important communication which may cause stress, uncertainty or a change in your team, it’s worth considering how you think the message will be received.
If the potential impact is high, then you’ll want to consider following up and checking in with your people after you’ve communicated, to see how they’re feeling about it.
You may also communicate in stages. Let them know a little first, then set a future time where you can communicate more information when you have it.
The details of large initiatives such as restructures, major projects or large organisational changes are often not fully known in the beginning, so it’s important to consider how and when you’ll stagger the communication to keep people informed, without needing to have the whole story all at once.
Learn More: 5 Communication Skills Every Leader Needs.
5. Provide Opportunities For Two-Way Communication
Good communication is not just about sending messages, it’s also about being available for others.
Busy, stressed leaders are most at risk of being unavailable for their teams.
Back to back meetings, a full email inbox, a demanding boss. All of these things will put pressure on your ability to remain available for your team.
Regular team meetings and 1 to 1 meetings are great tools to keep communication lines open – as long as you stick to them.
You might also consider booking some “team time” in your calendar, which is an additional time when you’ll specifically make yourself available for your people if they are in need of support.
Increasing the opportunities for your people to communicate with you will help remain connected to your team. It’s also more likely that people will raise questions or concerns when they need support.
It might seem like a lot of effort to carve out the time to be more available. You might just find it saves time and anguish in the long run as you keep your finger on the pulse a little more easily.
Learn More: Thoughtful Leader Podcast #35: How to Create Open Communication in Your Team.
Communicate With Intention and Be the Leader Your Team Wants
People want their leaders to be good communicators.
You don’t want to upset them, do you?
Communicate thoughtfully and with intention to set clear expectations, reduce confusion and prevent misunderstandings.
Your people will thank you for it.
What do you think good communication means? Let me and all the other thoughtful leaders know in the comments below!
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Communication skills help leaders to define the goals of team members clearly. It also helps understand team members' goals and desires and solve their grievances. Effective communication skills also help foster an open and good rapport between leaders and their teams, which increases productivity and efficiency.How does good communication make a good leader? ›
Communication skills help leaders to define the goals of team members clearly. It also helps understand team members' goals and desires and solve their grievances. Effective communication skills also help foster an open and good rapport between leaders and their teams, which increases productivity and efficiency.What does communication mean for a leader? ›
Leadership communication is a type of communication most commonly used by leaders to relay information about the company's culture, core values, mission, and crucial messages to build trust and encourage employees. In practice, it involves delivering a shared vision and inspiring others to buy into that vision .What is the most important communication attribute of a successful leader? ›
The most important communication skill for leaders is the ability to listen. Professional listening skills include listening for the message, listening for any emotions behind the message and considering relevant questions about the message.What is the meaning of good communication? ›
Effective communication is the process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose. When we communicate effectively, both the sender and receiver feel satisfied.What are the 5 importance of communication? ›
- Good communication builds and maintains relationships. ...
- Communication facilitates innovation. ...
- It builds effective teams. ...
- Managing employees is easier. ...
- It supports growth of the organisation. ...
- Effective communication ensures transparency.
There are four main communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive communication. Learn what they are, the signs of each, and how to support your team no matter their communication style.Why is good communication important? ›
By delivering messages clearly, there is no room for misunderstanding or alteration of messages, which decreases the potential for conflict. In situations where conflict does arise, effective communication is a key factor to ensure that the situation is resolved in a respectful manner.Why are good communication skills important? ›
Successful communication can deepen relations in personal life or professional life. In personal life, they can help us understand better people and situations that happen on a daily basis. Developing communication skills can help us avoid conflicts compromise, and help in better decision making.What is strong communication in leadership? ›
Strong communication skills enable leaders to provide necessary information and direction to their teams. They may use a broad range of communication techniques to strengthen interpersonal understanding and enhance morale and professionalism.
Clear, concise, complete, considerate, correct, courteous, and concrete content can take your business to the next level.What are the 5 basic communication skills? ›
- WRITTEN COMMUNICATION. Convey ideas and information through the use of written language.
- ORAL COMMUNICATION. Convey ideas and information through the use of spoken language.
- NON-VERBAL AND VISUAL COMMUNICATION. ...
- ACTIVE LISTENING. ...
- CONTEXTUAL COMMUNICATION.
Effective communication examples can be stated as active listening, giving and taking feedback, empathy, and respectfulness, responding to messages, having volume and clarity in messages, understanding non-verbal data, building friendliness and confidence, adapting your communication style to the audience, and so on.What is the most powerful means of communication? ›
1. When face to face is the best means of communication. Face-to-face communication is often an effective strategy for managing conflicts at work and having difficult conversations. After all, taking time to talk to someone in person can convey integrity, honesty and authenticity.What is a good communication skill? ›
This means speaking clearly, concisely, and loudly (but not too loud), while building a good rapport with your audience.What are the three 3 C's of an effective leader? ›
The next time you are leading your team, focus on your mindset and decide to be a three-C leader: competent, committed and with strong character. When we do that, our employees win, and when they win, we all win. Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries.What are the six communication skills for inspiring leaders? ›
The six leadership communication skills are: (1) written, (2) verbal, (3) presentation, (4) non-verbal, (5) cross-cultural, and (6) listening.What are the qualities of a good leader? ›
A good leader should have integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, empathy, and gratitude. They should be learning agile and flex their influence while communicating and delegating effectively. See how these key leadership qualities can be learned and improved at all levels of your organization.What are the four skills of communication? ›
When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.What are the 7 importance in communication? ›
Use the 7 Cs of Communication as a checklist for all of your communication. By doing this, you'll stay clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous.
We recommend treating the 5 Cs of communication as a checklist. Remembering to be clear, cohesive, complete, concise, and concrete when communicating will help improve your writing.What are the 6 essential leadership styles? ›
- Transformational Leadership.
- Delegative Leadership.
- Authoritative Leadership.
- Transactional Leadership.
- Participative Leadership.
- Servant Leadership.
Assertive Communication Style. Those with an assertive communication style are considered the most effective communicators but not overpowering. They communicate their wants, expectations, thoughts, and emotions and practice active listening while considering other people's needs.What is a supportive communication style? ›
They prefer to display warmth and cooperation in their communications. Supportives often express opinions in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, with considerable attention to the manner in which they are expressing them.
- Listen, listen, and listen. ...
- Who you are talking to matters. ...
- Body language matters. ...
- Check your message before you hit send. ...
- Be brief, yet specific. ...
- Write things down. ...
- Sometimes it's better to pick up the phone. ...
- Think before you speak.
- Identify Your Objectives. What do you hope to accomplish, either immediately or long term? ...
- Listen Actively. Communication isn't just about what you say. ...
- Note Your Body Language. ...
- Know Your Audience. ...
- Pace Yourself. ...
- Choose the Right Time. ...
- Be Clear.
Communication in the workplace is important because it boosts employee morale, engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. Communication is also key for better team collaboration and cooperation. Ultimately, effective workplace communication helps drive better results for individuals, teams, and organizations.What is the relationship between communication and leadership? ›
Communication is a vital component to leadership. To make proficient progress, a leader or manager must be a compelling and persuading communicator. Furthermore, a pioneer and their subordinates must be able to communicate to complete their activities, to progress, and to develop their association.What are the principles of communication? ›
The 8 basic principles of communication are clarity, timeliness, coherence, urgency, conciseness, correctness, courteousness, and completeness. Similar to Cialdini's principles of persuasion, the eight principles of communication are the driving force behind messaging that resonates and persuades.What are the 7 pillars of effective communication? ›
According to the seven Cs, communication needs to be: clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous.
Examples of communication skills include active listening, clear and concise verbal and written communication, nonverbal communication, empathy, assertiveness, and adaptability.What are the 10 examples of communication? ›
- Face-to-face verbal communication. Face-to-face conversation can be carried on when speaking to any member personally while present in the same place.
- Emails. ...
- Telephones. ...
- Written reports. ...
- Group meetings. ...
- Announcements. ...
- Texting. ...
- Know where to communicate—and about what. ...
- Build collaboration skills. ...
- Talk face-to-face when you can. ...
- Watch your body language and tone of voice. ...
- Prioritize two-way communication. ...
- Stick to facts, not stories. ...
- Make sure you're speaking to the right person.
The sender's experiences, attitudes, knowledge, skill, perceptions, and culture influence the message. "The written words, spoken words, and nonverbal language selected are paramount in ensuring the receiver interprets the message as intended by the sender" (Burnett & Dollar, 1989).Why is effective communication important? ›
Effective communication is essential for managing relationships with your staff, customers and stakeholders. Poor communication can ruin relationships, and potentially result in lost sales and a damaged reputation. Read how to improve your business communication with staff, suppliers and customers.Why are good communications skills important to a leadership role? ›
Communication skills in leadership are important as they enable you to take responsibility for your team and convey your message in clear, unambiguous terms. With excellent communication, you can set the tone for your workplace and make it easier for your team members to understand your work expectations.Why is communication important in change leadership? ›
By having a clearly planned communication strategy, change leaders are able to facilitate organizational transformation. The entire process happens in a context where everyone understands why change is necessary and what role they play in it.What is effective communication skills? ›
Speak clearly, maintain an even tone, and make eye contact. Keep your body language relaxed and open. Wrap up with a summary and then stop. Summarize your response and then stop talking, even if it leaves a silence in the room.What are the 7 C's of effective communication? ›
Some of the most important communication skills for any job are presentation, active listening, nonverbal communication, giving/taking feedback, and others. Improve your communication skills by learning how to listen, noticing nonverbal cues, and practicing oral communication.
Communicating value means walking your audience from exposure, to awareness and attention, to understanding, to evaluation and yielding, to retention, and finally to action.How do communication skills help in career growth? ›
In a team, being able to communicate effectively with your colleagues will help build trust, strengthen your professional relationships, boosts teamwork, develop a sense of belongingness, and help you to become more productive.