Episode #27: How to Communicate and Make a High Impact

This episode is part of the Career Advancement Series that has been curated to help you become an exceptional communicator.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Who and what is a high impact communicator?
  • The essentials of clear and concise speaking
  • Assertive communication behaviors to gain attention and acceptance
  • Listening skills to greatly improve the effectiveness of your communication

Who and What is a High Impact Communicator?

A high impact communicator is someone who can communicate in a clear, concise, correct, creative, and conversational way in both their written and spoken communication.

How well do you feel you communicate?

Have you ever had someone respond to you with, “I just don’t understand.” or “I thought you said…” It can feel frustrating to not have your message be understood by the listener and if this happens to you regularly, most likely you’re not making your message clear.

The Essentials of Clear and Concise Speaking

You don’t need to overcomplicate your message with too many words. You can practice being clear and concise when delivering your message by following these three (3) steps:

  1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

These three steps will help you get to the point upfront so that you aren’t making people guess what you’re talking about.

For example:

  • In today’s podcast episode, I’m going to tell you about high-impact communication skills.
  • High impact communication skills include the essentials of delivering a clear and concise message, assertive communication behaviors, and active listening skills.
  • I told you that in today’s podcast episode you will learn 3 high-impact communication skills to help advance your career.

With that said, here are some tips to help you strive for clarity in your communication:

Use simple words. Big words can be confusing to the listener. Don’t use big words if simpler words will do

Use an active voice that is direct and authoritative, rather than a passive voice that can come across as weak and indirect.

Don’t use Jargon unless you are absolutely positive that others will know what it means.

Less is more. People can’t hear everything you say if you give it to them in long-drawn-out monologues. Too much is just too much. Less is more be concise.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just wanted to know what time is, not how to build a clock?” That is a plea for being more concise. You don’t have to tell someone everything about the subject, you just have to tell them what they need to know about the subject.

Preparation, planning, and practice will help you to become more clear and concise in your communication. Communicating concisely is communicating considerately. People will pay greater attention to you and you’ll have a greater impact when you speak concisely.

Assertive Communication Behaviors to Gain Attention and Acceptance

Assertive communication requires courage and self-management of your thoughts and emotions. When you practice being more assertive you’ll be more effective in gaining attention and acceptance amongst your colleagues, co-workers, family, and friends.

  • To be assertive is to stand up for your rights, without undue anxiety, and without infringing on the rights of others.
  • Assertive communication is also about having healthy boundaries and showing up in your personal power by being clear, concise, and nice.

Other assertive communication characteristics are:

  • Being able to express feelings, wants, and needs clearly and appropriately.
  • Listening without interrupting
  • Feeling confident and in control of your emotions.
  • Good eye contact and relaxed body posture
  • Strong connection with others

Passive vs Aggressive Communication

Passive communication and aggressive communication are two other common and less communication behaviors. I will talk about them briefly and while I do, notice if you see yourself displaying any of their characteristics.

Passive communication behavior is driven by an emotional response that avoids any kind of confrontation. Passive communicators are usually very nice, dislike conflict, and will do almost anything to avoid it. The problem is that they are often not clear and concise and generally lack self-esteem or self-confidence and feel that don’t have any rights. Outwardly nice, yet outwardly hostile. They often fall back on the old belief – “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.”

Here are other characteristics of passive communicators:

  • Failing to speak up for themselves
  • Allowing others to deliberately or inadvertently infringe on their rights
  • Failing to express their feelings, needs, or opinions
  • Speaking softly or apologetically
  • Exhibiting poor eye contact and slumped body posture

Aggressive communication behavior is a direct emotional attack or assault on another person.  Aggressive communicators can be very impulsive and tend to dominate the conversation by using humiliation to try to control, criticism and blame.

An aggressive communicator has a low frustration tolerance, speaks in a loud demanding, or overbearing voice, is often rude or threatening to others, doesn’t listen well, interrupts frequently, and uses ‘You’ statements, with an overbearing posture.

It’s also the most widely misinterpreted communication style. It’s not necessarily aggressive if you are a loud person. Someone is aggressive if they come at you with a very clear motive such as intimidation or belittlement.

These are aggressive postures:

  • “You don’t have the right to xyz”
  • “It’s my way or the Highway”
  • Using inappropriate or foul language at someone to belittle or intimidate them
  • They’re in your Face or in Your Space if they’re trying to intimidate or belittle you
  • Idle Threats
  • Personal Attacks (Physical or Verbal) public humiliation, verbal attack addressing someone’s personal character rather than their behavior is aggressive.

Practice standing your ground and asserting yourself confidently. Making your concerns known is key, but focusing only on your needs is aggressive. Assertiveness involves listening and understanding other’s needs as well as your own.

And we can’t leave out the passive-aggressive communication behavior, which describes someone who is outwardly nice, yet inwardly hostile UNTIL they have brewed and stewed and worked themselves into a “mad.” Then they show up and verbally throw up on people.

Passive-aggressive communicators will often:

  • Mutter to themselves, rather than confront the person or issue
  • Have difficulty acknowledging their anger
  • Use facial expressions that don’t match how they feel
  • Use sarcasm
  • Deny that there is a problem
  • Appear cooperative while purposely doing things to annoy and disrupt
  • Use subtle sabotage to get even

In EP 26, I talked about the 4 primary business communication styles and each of them as a communication preference.

  1. The Entertainer (Influencer) – prefers a conversational tone and values a sense of humor. They don’t like to get bogged down in the details and may need to hear a message more than once.
  2. The Commander (Driver) – prefers conciseness and organization, the value efficiency, are focused on the bottom line, and want you to get to the point.
  3. The Feeler (Steady) – prefers a conversational tone and is extra-sensitive to nuances of language, they are good at reading between the lines.
  4. The Analyzer (Conscientious) – prefers direct, clear communication, with plenty of evidence to support the message.

It is important to be flexible and adaptable in your communication behavior.

Although learning to be assertive is the optimal choice the majority of the time aggressive and passive communication can also be the most appropriate choice in some situations.

For example – if a fire breaks out in a building and you are trapped inside, you bet that an assertive-aggressive communication style might come in handy to mobile people towards safety. An assertive-aggressive style is a clear and concise communication that isn’t necessarily nice in the delivery verbally or nonverbally. There are times to be firm chosen deliberately and consciously not a reaction.

Passive-assertive communication is subtle, but still clear and concise communication. Assertively standing up for your desire to change the topic is a great example. If you’re in a meeting with your superiors and want to be respectful to their leadership as you bravely take a stand and speak up about a topic that is important to you.

Listening Skills Can Improve Your Communication Effectiveness

Being an exceptional communicator is not just about delivering words, it’s also about listening. We must master the art of listening assertively (not taking things personally, or project your insecurities or preconceived notions).

Consider these facts about listening:

  • Humans have 5x more capacity to listen than to speak
  • Four-fifths of our minds have the opportunity to wander while we are listening to someone
  • We tend to spend this time formulating responses based on our own preconceived notions
  • We only retain 30% of what was said, and only remember half of that
  • We spend 47% of our time writing, typing, speaking, or reading
  • We spend 53% of our time listening to others!
  • Most people are only 25% effective at listening
  • Listening skills are poorest when we interact with the people we are closest to (family members and friends)
  • Most people rate themselves as poor listeners – How about you?

Effective listening is active, not passive, and involves our whole bodies, not just our ears.

Effective Active listening

Effective, active listening is at least as important as effective delivery of the message, though unfortunately the most often overlooked skill. Don’t be discouraged if you have trouble listening. Being a great listener requires practice. Being a great listener is dependent on these four (4) skills: focusing, reflecting, perceiving, and responding. As I review these skills, evaluate your strengths and note the areas that may need some work.

Focus. Make a conscious decision to focus on the speaker. In today’s society, that’s often much harder than it seems. The first step is to eliminate all the distractions, from your cell phone and computer to whatever is happening in the environment around you. You have to be disciplined and tell yourself that for a designated amount of time, you will respectfully give the other person all of your attention. Now, in an ideal world, we can always put aside whatever we’re doing and make time to listen, but the reality is that providing someone this kind of focused listening takes discipline, practice, and some planning.

Reflect. At one level, reflection means showing the person that you are understanding – or not understanding – what they are saying. reflecting is all about how you demonstrate that you are in fact listening and understanding what the other person is saying. However, reflecting also refers to the way that we process information as we listen. If we are reflecting, we’ll ask questions to clarify or paraphrase what we think we’ve heard, just to be sure that we’re understanding the message. You can also demonstrate your understanding (or lack thereof) with encouraging, nodding, or hand gestures.

Perceive. The next skill, to perceive, refers to our ability to read between the lines. Most communication happens through nonverbal channels. Great listeners read body language, facial expressions, and vocal characteristics which help them perceive the story beyond just what the speaker is saying.

Respond. When appropriate, ask questions, show empathy and reflect back on what you’re hearing. Offer a solution or advice ONLY when requested. Sometimes the most difficult – and yet the most powerful – response can be absolutely nothing. Silence speaks volumes, and when paired with a variety of facial expressions can mean very different things. Most of us find silence to be awkward, so it can sometimes be an effective way to encourage someone to keep talking or to stop and assess what they’re saying and reconsider a new course.

Today, I shared with you several critical skills for high-impact communicators that I hope you will begin to apply to life and practice often.

Before I wrap up this episode, I want to speak to one more thing to help you step more fully into becoming an exceptional communicator.

And that is being open to influence. Being open to influence is the overarching mindset and attitude in order to really utilize all of these communication skills in a masterful and consistent way. When we are open to influence we are connecting without judgment. We are engaging and listening to what others are saying even thinking, rather than preparing for what we want to say next. When working with others it’s essential that we cultivate an open mindset and embody curiosity in order to deeply hear what others are saying without filtering it through our own agenda.

Stay tuned for Episode 28 in the Career Advancement Series where you’ll learn “How To Build Rapport and Strengthen Your Work Relationships”

If you would like to explore any of these topics further and receive additional support and coaching, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by sending an email to support@teenaevert.com