“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
—Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
The four attributes of an effective communicator are the ability to be flexible, focused, responsive, and calm. Combined, you are viewed as trustworthy and approachable.
A good listener will hear—and possibly see—the nonverbal cues that enable you to tailor your communications. Your flexibility, “I understand that your children are home early because it is a snow day, shall we talk later?” shows consideration, often appreciated, and returned later with the other person’s more complete attention. Providing flexibility establishes an equitable exchange of that most precious of precious commodities, time.
» Flexibility serves you and those you are communicating with.
It is rare when we have only one thought to communicate. Multi-tasking breeds multi-messages. The focused communication does everyone a favor. It says, “Let’s prioritize, and take this one issue at a time.” By doing so, your focus is contagious. Others will appreciate not being forced into multi-tasking an answer.
» Being focused serves you and those with whom you are communicating.
Just because you initiated a communication does not mean that there won’t be questions. Your willingness to provide a ready response is another quid pro quo that leads to building trust and depth to your relationship. In business as in our personal relationships, trust engenders good will.
» Being responsive serves you, and those with whom you are communicating.
We have a choice. We can be calm during stressful times. Or not. The calm communicator is telegraphing all sorts of positive signs: Yes, I can handle this crisis. Yes, I am focused on the crisis, not on my emotions. Yes, I’m listening, watching. Yes, I can communicate with you and others, and I expect the same from you. Yes, you can trust me.
By maintaining calm, we can run through the checklist of information required for decisive decision-making. And we are more likely to make an informed decision. You will be known as the one who can be relied on in times of crisis (we all experience varying degrees of urgency), and as a go-to person, a leader in your area.
» Being calm serves you, and those with whom you are communicating.
People will listen to you, because you listen to them.
People will trust you with information and decision-making because your calm, responsive style leads to a greater percentage of success. And they will trust that you will not create a new issue out of a crisis, which only makes matters worse.
The practice of these elements becomes part of your brand as a great communicator.