Unlocking Communication Mastery
As we embark on this month, I find myself reflecting on the profound impact of communication in both our professional spheres and daily lives. For me, communication is not just about words; it’s a conscientious process that involves passing my thoughts through three essential gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
In a world buzzing with information, understanding the impact of our communication is paramount. Before I convey any message, I pause to consider what I want people to THINK, FEEL, and ultimately, DO after processing my input. It’s a mindful approach that cultivates meaningful and intentional exchanges.
And in the realm of social media, I adhere to the wisdom of Thumper from Bambi: “If you can’t say anything nice and helpful, don’t say anything at all!” Social media, for me, is a space for positivity, constructive dialogue, and shared inspiration, not a platform for venting grievances or lashing out.
So, join me this February as we delve into the art of purposeful communication. Let’s explore how our words shape our relationships, influence our work, and contribute to a more connected and compassionate world. Communication isn’t just a tool; it’s a powerful force that can shape our reality. Let’s wield it with care and consciousness.
Must Have Life Skills
In the professional realm, effective communication is the linchpin of leadership. Leaders who can articulate their vision, motivate their teams, and navigate complex challenges with clear communication often find themselves at the forefront of success. It’s not merely about speaking but about connecting, understanding, and inspiring others to share in a collective goal.
In personal relationships, communication is the bridge that connects hearts and minds. Whether resolving conflicts, expressing love, or simply sharing life’s journey, effective communication fosters understanding, builds trust, and strengthens the bonds that form the foundation of meaningful connections.
Moreover, communication is a tool for self-advocacy. Those who can articulate their thoughts and ideas convincingly are better positioned to navigate challenges, negotiate opportunities, and leave a lasting impression in various facets of life.
As we navigate the intricate tapestry of our lives, let’s remember that the ability to communicate effectively is not just a skill; it’s a superpower that can propel us towards success, understanding, and genuine connections. So, embrace the art of communication, and unlock the doors to a world where success and fulfillment await.
The Three Gates of Communication
In a world buzzing with constant communication, the importance of mindful expression cannot be overstated. Before releasing our words into the digital realm, let’s take a moment to pass them through three timeless gates of wisdom.
- Is it True? Authenticity matters. In an era rife with misinformation, passing through this gate ensures our words align with the truth. Honesty lays the foundation for meaningful connections, making it essential to pause and verify the authenticity of our communication.
- Is it Necessary? Not every thought deserves vocalization. The second gate prompts us to consider the necessity of our words. Are they adding value, fostering understanding, or contributing positively? If not, the power of silence might be the most impactful choice.
- Is it Kind? Amidst the noise, kindness stands out. The third gate encourages us to infuse our communication with empathy. Choosing words that uplift and inspire creates a ripple effect of positivity. This gate challenges us to be mindful of the impact our words can have on others, fostering an environment of compassion.
Balancing the Gates: Kindness to Others, Priority to Self
As we delve deeper into the art of mindful communication through the three gates, a crucial aspect emerges — the delicate balance between extending kindness to others and prioritising our own well-being.
Kindness to Others: Passing through the gate of kindness involves choosing words that uplift, support, and create positive connections. It prompts us to be mindful of the impact our communication has on those around us. Through kindness, we contribute to a harmonious environment, fostering understanding and empathy.
Prioritising Self: Simultaneously, we must navigate the labyrinth of self-care. While being kind to others is paramount, so is preserving our mental and emotional well-being. The gate of prioritising self prompts us to discern when to say no, set boundaries, and prioritise our needs. This isn’t selfishness; it’s self-preservation, ensuring we communicate from a place of authenticity and strength.
Finding Harmony: In the dance between kindness and self-prioritisation, balance is the key. Like a pendulum, our communication should swing harmoniously between extending compassion to others and safeguarding our own mental space. This balance empowers us to engage in meaningful connections without sacrificing our well-being.
As we continue to navigate the gates of communication, let’s embrace the duality of being kind to others while ensuring we prioritise our own mental and emotional health. In this delicate equilibrium, we cultivate a communication style that is not only mindful but also sustainable for the journey ahead.
Impactful Communication Strategies
HOW TRULY GREAT LEADERS COMMUNICATE!
Throughout my career, the role of internal and external communications, and the craft of writing, speaking and presenting have always been central to my Mission. The latest input from Harvard Business School
on this, attached in this post, underscores my experience and focus particularly, as we transformed Thomas Cook between 2012 and 2014.
How Great Leaders Communicate”. As it explains: “In the age of knowledge, ideas are the foundation of success in almost every field. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t persuade anyone else to follow your vision, your influence and impact will be greatly diminished. And that’s why communication is no longer considered a “soft skill” among the world’s top business leaders. Leaders who reach the top do not simply pay lip service to the importance of effective communication. Instead, they study the art in all its forms — writing, speaking, presenting — and constantly strive to improve on those skills.”
Give the article a read (https://bit.ly/3VcKy32) and let me know your thoughts! I particularly liked the following two themes, and have used them over the last 30 years:
1. Use short words to talk about hard things
“Long, complicated sentences make written ideas hard to understand! You’ll win more fans if you replace long words and sentences with short ones.
If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do,” writes Nobel prize–winning economist Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow. He argues that persuasive speakers and writers do everything they can to reduce “cognitive strain.
When you make things simple, you’re not dumbing down the content – you’re outsmarting the competition and being respectful to those for whom my language is not their first language.”
2. Choose sticky metaphors to reinforce key concepts
“A metaphor is a powerful tool that compares abstract ideas to familiar concepts. Metaphors bring people on a journey without ever leaving their seats. Chris Hadfield, a famous Canadian astronaut, a talented speaker who we worked with at IBM loves to tap into the power of metaphor to describe an indescribable event:
“Six seconds before launch, suddenly, this beast starts roaring like a dragon starting to breathe fire. You’re like a little leaf in a hurricane…As those engines light, you feel like you’re in the jaws of an enormous dog that is shaking you and physically pummeling you with power.”
Roaring beasts, leaves in a hurricane, the jaws of a dog – these are all concrete ideas to describe an event that dew of us will ever experience. Love Captain Hadfield and, would be very interested to hear your communications advice – how do you ensure everyone knows their part in the missions?”
IMPROVE YOUR PRESENTATIONS – 7 TOP TIPS FOR WRITERS & CONSULTANTS!
This list of amazing communication tips were shared with me a decade ago by a brilliant colleague, friend and consultant
. I use this as a check list often and hope it gives you an edge in your presentation game!
- Short, simple sentences. Henry James could write beautiful, long sentences with multiple subordinate clauses. You and I can’t. Sentences should be short. They should have subjects, verbs and objects, preferably in that order. Favour active over passive verbs.
- Plain English, not Pure Consultant. The best English is simple English. If you haven’t read Gowers’ Plain Words or Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, do so now. If you have a tendency to write “Consultant”, try reading your work out loud. It will sound awful. You will want to rewrite it. Keep a list of meaningless “consultant-speak” words, starting with ‘key’ and ‘focus’’.
- Logic first, pack last. The wrong way to write a presentation pack is to start with some exhibits, shuffle them and insert a large number of trackers. The right way is to start by writing the main messages down on one page and polish them until the logic and the language are compelling. Only then, build the pack.
- More content, less paper. Almost all our documents are too long. The Gettysburg Address defined a nation, changed the course of history and was 278 words long – less than half a page of text. Our packs are full of unnecessary words and too many content-free pages. Never start by saying ‘Please turn to page 4, which is the first page with anything useful on it’. Try starting the content on page 1.
- Live the pyramid. The Pyramid Principle is one of McKinsey’s greatest institutional assets. Its influence is, sadly, beginning to fade. Read it. Use it. Coach others on how to use it. Every document should have the arresting introduction (situation, complication, question), the governing thought that answers the question, the parallel logical structure built around a few important messages, and an ending that links back to the beginning.
- Talking, not reading. Clients can read. They like reading and they particularly like reading concise documents that say what they mean. They don’t get many of these. Clients don’t like being read to, especially if they already read the document before your meeting. Spend your time talking with your clients, not reading to them.
- One page, one paragraph, one phrase. All important ideas can be summarised on one page. Good ideas can be summarised in one paragraph. Great ideas are captured in a simple phrase. This is true in science, politics and business. Make sure your ideas are captured in a simple, memorable phrase. That is all clients will remember. If it is not memorable, it will have no impact. And impact is all that matters.
Personal brand and influencing
I was very interested to read in Forbes that after long discouraging social media posts about work, companies are now training employees to act as in-house corporate influencers!
For years, companies established social media policies on what workers could and couldn’t say online but as a new generation of employees enter the workforce, more companies are recruiting ‘insiders’ to put an authentic face on the company.
In my opinion, strong influencers need to have a clear and independent personal brand before they can advocate for others, and creating a brand that is sustainable and influential is actually quite a big deal!
One of the easiest ways to lose motivation however is to not know where to start on this Personal Brand Journey, and I’ve observed a number of executives struggle to get going.
My top tips for breathing life into your personal brand are:
📖 Telling Your Story: If your personal brand isn’t telling a story, you’ve already lost half of your potential audience. Allen Gannett, chief strategy officer at Skyword explains it best: “The most effective personal branding strategy these days is to build a true narrative, very clear on your areas of focus and their intersectionality.”
🙌 Be Consistent & Authentic: Being consistent in creating and posting content, staying focused and owning a brand voice that is authentic to YOU. Sharing views on your industry area should be one slice of your personal brand pie. Blending this with some other more vulnerable shares is essential to show that you’re a human who (in my case) likes to read, cycle and dance!
✨ Spark Conversation & Drive Debate: Through my many years on social media, I’ve realised the importance of inviting your audience to contest and debate. Not everyone is going to agree with each post and that is ok! Inviting your audience to engage with you by asking questions and seeking their inputs makes for a richer and more dynamic conversation and builds a community of diverse perspectives!
If you would like to learn more about building your personal brand, I loved the following three articles:
How Women Can Develop — and Promote — Their Personal Brand ➡
10 golden Rules Of Personal Branding ➡
9 Amazing Benefits Of Personal Branding ➡
Building Meaningful Connections
In a world buzzing with tweets, likes, and snaps, the true essence of connection often gets lost in the digital noise. But let’s rewind to the timeless art of building meaningful connections, where every interaction is a carefully woven thread contributing to the fabric of our lives.
In our pursuit of online followers and virtual applause, we sometimes forget the depth that real connections bring. It’s not about the quantity of contacts but the quality of conversations. Think of it as crafting a beautiful tapestry, each thread representing a shared moment, a genuine laugh, or a heartfelt conversation.
In this era of fast-paced communication, take a moment to pause and consider the richness that comes with authentic connections. Beyond the surface-level exchanges, delve into meaningful dialogues that leave an imprint on your soul. Whether it’s a shared passion, a common goal, or simply the joy of being present, these connections form the foundation of a fulfilling life.
So, let’s embrace the art of connection. Be present, be genuine, and watch as the threads of meaning intertwine, creating a tapestry of relationships that withstand the test of time. After all, in this digital age, the true power lies in the depth of our connections, not the number of clicks.
HOW TO HAVE COMPELLING CONVERSATIONS!
As you know I’ve recently moved into a new community and am engaging in hundreds of new and exciting meetings, conversations and potential friendships! It’s a fine balance as I always try hard to be both interesting and interested, and when I came across this fun, handy little article I wanted to share some top tips for having compelling conversations!
For me, Shakespeare is one of the most brilliant conversationalists of all time. His influence on me as a little girl, reading, watching and acting myself at the theatre has stayed with me throughout my life.
Shakespeare referenced many of common phrases we use each day in the English language without realising! I’ve shared a few of my favourites below:
A wild goose chase” - Romeo and Juliet
🥒 “I have been in such a pickle” – The Tempest
🤦♀️ “For goodness sake” - Henry VIII
🤷 “Neither here nor there” - Othello
😮💨 “With bated breath” - The Merchant of Venice
There are many Shakespeare and literature fan clubs that celebrate his contributions, plays and impact including the Shakespeare group here on LinkedIn: https://lnkd.in/e3YGSpyv. I’ve joined, you should too!
Skills the world need…
Here’s a curated collection of my posts, each unraveling the essence of indispensable abilities needed to navigate and contribute in our ever-evolving global landscape
Have you rekindled past hobbies or unique pastimes?
Prioritising Skills for a Better Future! In the hustle of modern work life, finding time for continuous learning is a challenge.
Resources to Support The Skills the World Needs
SKILLS THE WORLD NEEDS FOUNDED ON ACTIVE WELL BEING TRAINING
Three tips from my Marketing officer Shia
Implementing these three communication principles has been instrumental in enhancing my effectiveness as a communications professional.
- Listen First, Speak Second: Effective communication begins with active listening. Before sharing your thoughts or ideas, take the time to truly understand the perspective of others. This not only fosters better understanding but also builds trust and rapport.
- Clarity is Key: When communicating, strive for clarity and simplicity. Use clear and concise language to convey your message, avoiding jargon or unnecessary complexity. This ensures that your message is easily understood and leaves little room for misinterpretation.
- Adapt to Your Audience: Tailor your communication style to suit your audience. Consider their preferences, knowledge level, and cultural background. By adapting your approach, you can better connect with your audience and ensure that your message resonates effectively.
Thank you for joining me in this month’s newsletter as we delve into the transformative power of communication. In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever to verify the authenticity of information before sharing it. Let’s harness the influence of our words to foster meaningful connections, inspire positive change, and combat misinformation. Stay tuned for further insights and discussions in the upcoming editions. Let’s continue to communicate purposefully and compassionately, ensuring our words resonate with truth and integrity.