This is the second part of my blog on the fascinating book by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook – Lean In.
While the earlier blog piece had a few tips for everyone in a corporate career, this piece focuses on some tips from the author on not only what makes a good manager but also an effective communicator. So, here are 5 guiding lights for you to watch out for:
1) When Communicating Hard Truths, less is often better.
How many times, have we faced a situation, when we have to talk about or communicate difficult things, then out of fear of causing hurt or insult, we have hedged and in the process complicated the language. Imagine how you would like to hear the hardest truths – Plain and Simple. So remember truths are better served by using plain and simple language.
2) Be Hungry for Feedback.
How can I do better? What am I doing that I don’t know? What am I not doing that I don’t see? These questions and many more can lead to so many benefits. The truths hurts but the upside of the painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of a blissful ignorance.
It’s hard to receive an honest feedback but like truth, feedback is not absolute. Its an opinion, grounded in observations and experiences which allows us to know what impression we make on others. As said by Stephen M.R Covey “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.” Hence feedback, on the impact that we make on others is important to improve our own behaviours.
3) Compassion – A tool for effective communication.
Effective communication starts with the understanding that there is my point (my truth) of view and someone else’s point of view (his truth) and there rarely is any absolute truth. When we recognize that we can see things only from our own perspective, then we can start sharing our views in a non-threating way, with some compassion.
When we get emotional it is very difficult to treat a problem lightly and the best way to handle this is by talking it out. Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships. Motivation comes from working on things that we care about. To really care about others, we have to first understand them – what they like and dislike. What they feel as well as what they think. Emotions drive both the genders and influence every decision that we take. Recognising the role emotions play and being willing to discuss them makes us better managers and peers.
4) Miscommunication is a two way street
When any communication has been misunderstood, then the onus lies on both the speaker as well as the listener. If we want communication to be clear and understood, then we would have to take the responsibility for making it clearer by asking for suggestions, being open to feedback, giving examples etc. Hence to foster authentic communication, one has to be open and speak about one’s own weaknesses and when people are honest, thanking them publically to encourage them to continue. When leaders do this, it sends a powerful signal to others. Only in such open environments can we minimize miscommunication.
5) Professional and Personal Life – Two sides of the same coin
Being professional has always meant being organized and focussed and keeping personal life separate. But in today’s era of individual expression where people constantly update their FB Status, tweet every move, it makes less sense. We benefit from expressing our truth, talking about personal situations and acknowledging that professional decisions are often emotionally driven.
People are afraid to talk about their home situation at work as if one should not interfere with other, but on the contrary they do. True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.
Communications skills can either make or break a leader. Hence Leadership workshops at Focus pay a lot of attention on what makes people better communicators – which in turn helps in making effective managers and leaders.
Do these thoughts resonate with you? Do share what you think.
Read the 1st part here: Lessons from: LEAN IN – Part 1