The Voice of Authority
10 Communication Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know
McGraw-Hill, 2007, 212 pp., ISBN 978-0-07-148669-9
Booher is a Fortune 500 consultant and the CEO of Booher Consultants, a communication training firm. She has also written Communicate with Confidence. The principles in this book are meant to help you sell your ideas, expand your influence, inspire and motivate your team, handle crises in a way that builds trust, and identify characteristics that increase your credibility. A sprinkling of clever sayings keep you chuckling.
Most of us think we're excellent communicators. But just because you felt good about the way people responded is no assurance that you communicated well. (3)
Some executives "spray and pray." They shower people with information and hope the people can make sense of it. (5) "The difference between information and communication is the difference between an X-ray and surgery." (6)
A key tenet of effective executives is taking responsibility for communication: connecting with people to get things done, communicating values and acting consistent with them, communicating respect and concern, telling the truth. (10)
Reasons why people resist what you say:
· They think you're lying or misleading them. They don't trust you.
· They're getting incomplete information
· They don't understand what you mean. Your message is unclear.
· You're being purposefully evasive…." And more (12-13)
Chapter 1. Is It Correct?
"The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…should not be three different things." (16)
"Spin means putting the best face on a situation, stating facts or the situation in the best light possible…." (16)
"Words sometimes serve as a smokescreen to obscure the truth, rather than as a searchlight to reveal it." (18)
"Your challenge as a communicator is to regain trust in a culture 'spinning' out of control." (21)
"When you're wrong, say so. When you make a mistake, step up to the plate." "Nothing makes people believe you when you're right like admitting when you're wrong." (25)
"There's tremendous power in being known as a person who tells the truth. Straight. Unvarnished. Direct." (25)
"Can you picture Scott Adams doing a Dilbert cartoon with your comment as the punch line? If so, rethink your announcement, explanation, or message so that it rings true." (25)
"Trust builds over time. It can be dashed in a flash. It repairs slowly." (26)
Chapter 2. Is It Complete?
"In the absence of information, people get their facts from whatever faucet is leaking--whether accurate or not." (29)
"People withhold details to gain power. They lose it for the same reason." (32)
Explain your reasoning behind decisions. (37)
"Tell bad news promptly: Never underestimate the importance of the two-minute warning." (40)
"Negative news is no time for withholding. It's time for prompt truth telling in a positive frame of mind with a clear plan of action." (43)
"Communicate like you brush your teeth. Make it a habit. Do it frequently, habitually, systematically." (44)
"Never fear to be fallible. When you have to eat crow on occasion, it goes down much easier when mixed with a dash of humility and a pinch of honestly. Plus, people don't consider it so much fun to watch you choke." (45)
Chapter 3. Is It Clear?
Some signs you are not understood include Lack of questions, unexpected responses, lack of coordination, rework, and low morale. (49)
"Clear messages start with clear words. Clear words lead to clear action." (50) "Use plain English." (55)
"Start with the punch line." Don't bury the bottom line. Don't start with the background. It won't make any sense until they know the point. (59) Be specific. (60) Assume nothing!
"As long as communication goes only one way, we tend to assume that people walk away from a conversation with the point we thought we made very clearly." Verify by getting them to react in some way. (69)
"Anyone who isn't confused here doesn't really understand what's going on." (69 quoting Nigel Wrench)
Do your nonverbal cues contradict your words? (70) [Which is not truthful? dlm]
To communicate effectively you must understand the hearer's context and adapt your style to that person. (75)
"Be repetitious." [I repeat: Be repetitious. dlm] "People hear what they expect to hear. They don't hear what they don't want to hear. To overcome that natural tendency to tune out, you'll need to repeat your message in multiple ways, at different times, using different methods to get your point across." (75)
Chapter 4. Is It Purposefully Unclear?
The desire for harmony can result in ongoing evasion, which destroys trust. (78)
Chapter 5. Is It Consistent?
"As a leader, your challenge is to make sure everything synchs--what you say with what you do." (92)
Double-check the details: commas, semicolons, spelling, typos. If you sell shoes for a living these things may not make much difference, "but if you're a knowledge worker, words are the commerce of ideas." (93)
"Attention to detail reflects an attitude of quality, commitment, and consistency communicated to customers. When somebody says, 'I'm not a detail person,' I start to sweat." "Attention to detail creates an overall message…." (94) "Credible communicators follow through with what they promise--or stop promising." (96)
Chapter 6. Are You Credible?
Five things that affect your believability: your look, your language, your likeability, you character, and your competence. (103)
Be authentic with praise, questions, and greetings. (109)
"To be heard, you have to make people like you." "Show your humanity--be vulnerable." "Learn to tell failure stories before success stories. Generally, audiences have more in common with those who struggle than with those who succeed in life." (111)
"Even the smallest courtesies kindle a fire that ignites chemistry and builds kinship." (112) Arrogance antagonizes. (114)
Chapter 7. Are You Concerned and Connected?
"Your call is important to us. Please hold for the next available representative. The wait from this point is approximately 30 minutes….." (116)
"Connect with people as people. Leaders who show they care about people as individuals…make a connection. Those who don't not only fail to communicate but they also lose employees and customers over time." (117) It might be as simple as remembering people's names. (119)
"…one of their [public relations directors'] greatest challenges is getting CEOs to move beyond logical explanations and address the emotional concerns of people." (121) "Be emotionally present. Consider the impact of the message you're delivering." (123)
"One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears--by listening to them." (125 quoting Dean Rusk)
Consider the context when you speak to people. Are they fearing a merger or layoff? Is their work dull or are they overloaded? Are they pressed with deadlines or suffering personal stress? (1260
"What makes a good apology?
1. Admission of error, guilt, or wrongdoing. The person accepts responsibility for what was said or done and its inappropriateness, inaccuracy, weakness, hurtfulness, insensitivity, or whatever.
2. Specificity. Apologizing specifically sounds sincere. Global, blanket apologies convey lack of concern or understanding of the situation or damage caused.
3. Amends. Apologizing typically involves some attempt to make things right, some words or gesture of goodwill toward the offended person or group." (129)
[Don't you hate it when someone apologizes and then negates the apology through what else they say? dlm] Pseudo-apologies alienate. Apology + denial or + good intentions or + excuse or + attack. (130)
"An admission of wrongdoing isn't always appropriate, of course. But you can express regret over a situation, results, or an outcome no matter who or what caused it." (131)
Chapter 8. Is It Current?
"Instantaneous sums up today's standard for quality communication." (133) "The issues of speed and timeliness have become even more complex as hierarchies disappear." (134) "Delay is deadly." (135) "Delay decays morale." (136)
"When the government learns there's an attack planned involving the plane you plan to board…how long do you want the powers-that-be to hold the information before releasing it to you?" (137)
"Reduce the volume." "The more people hear from you, the less they notice." "Do people receive so much trivial, unnecessary, or related information from you that they ignore the vial?" (138)
Chapter 9. Does Your Communication Make You Look Competent?
"Take the time to make your message memorable." (147)
"Create impact with stories." "Whatever your message, stories will make it stronger…." (150)
"Be clear about your purpose." "The fours S's of persuasion: solid facts, sound logic, straightforward language, and strong structure." (155)
"Anticipate reactions to your message before you deliver it." (156)
"Make your bottom line your opening line." (157)
"Take your personality with you when you present your ideas to a group or enter the conference room for a meeting." (159)
"Our passion rises and falls based on what's at stake. Your audience understands that concept all too well. They take their cues from you. Your interest interests them." (159)
"Pay attention to punctuation and grammar." (165)
"Those who write and speak competently get attention." (166)
Chapter 10. Is It Circular?
Circular communication goes in all directions, up the chain, down the chain, across departmental lines. It includes feedback from customers, etc. (170)
"It's all too familiar, isn't it? The frustration of getting poor service because department X doesn't talk to department Y,…of people who don't listen,…of people not following through on what they tell you…. Companies who plan to be around in the net few years have to …stop not communicating like this." (173)
"Meaningful internal communication involves true information sharing, not logjams in e-mail boxes." (174)
"Far too often, we're circulating the unnecessary and hoarding the important." (176)
"Make feedback an obsession. Look into your lover's eyes and whisper, 'I love you' and what do you expect to hear in return? Silence? If it happens often, the relationship's in trouble. Yet every day that awkward silence can be 'heard' when people say to a boss, 'It's done' and hear…silence in response." (181)
"Without feedback in marriage, lovers drift toward divorce. Without feedback at work, employees drift toward the door." (183)
"Resolve conflict productively, but don't squelch it." (184)
* * * * *
Your comments and book recommendations are welcome.
To discontinue receiving book notes, hit Reply and put Discontinue in the text.