Be a Great Communicator in Business: 5 New Year’s Resolutions

business speaking

How likeable are you? In business, where high stakes hinge on teamwork, amiability is everything. Namely, how you make your teammates feel validated irrespective of the quality of their ideas. “We become what we repeatedly do,” wrote Sean Covey in “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” Learn the five simple workplace habits, brought to you by, to up your leadership potential.

1. Tell people what they want to hear.
People understand you best when you communicate with them in a way that resonates with their own thinking. In “Mastering Communication at Work,” Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann posit that people’s thinking patterns can be categorized in two ways: inductive and deductive.

Inductive thinkers need to hear the how and why first before they can process the main point.
Example: “Stockpiling was high in the last quarter because of the recession, so now we have to find ways to cut production costs.”

Deductive thinkers need the point front-loaded or they will grow impatient, but they are no less interested in the details.

Example: “We have to find ways to cut production costs. Stockpiling was high in the last quarter because of the recession.”

Have you ever dealt with the stalling rambler who “never gets to the point” or the overly brisk delegator whose subordinates fumble to interpret his orders? He may simply have been communicating in a way that made sense to him but which blew your mind.

New Year’s Resolution: Connect with colleagues the way they think by listening for clues: do they state the point first, or build up to it? Follow suit. These simple reversals can vastly improve the sticking power of your ideas.
2. Iterate and reiterate.

A new year is a natural time to ponder the future. Why not turn those daydreams into productive forward-thinking that gets people excited about the coming year?

Especially when on-boarding new recruits, a good idea is to ask the team to prepare their own strategy report for fulfilling their job responsibilities.

An ideal template would be:
Primary project tasks/job responsibilities 3-4 primary on-the-job goals (departmental or individual) Personal career goals (How does this job align with your career aspirations?) Desired skills, professional development or T D; opportunities Mutual code of ethics (A set of behaviours the team agrees to adhere to)
The strategy report should be the employee’s own blueprint for achieving goals and a management feedback mechanism of employee satisfaction. Clarifying goals and responsibilities gives the employee a sense of the “bigger picture” as to how his contributions fit within the business’ operations, thereby validating his role.

You need to make sure you have the right people working with you who want to be there and know why they’re there.

New Year’s Resolution: Give people autonomy in defining their roles within the organization, the more they will take control of and have pride in their work.
3. Less automation, more human.

My high school math teacher coaxed the timid members of the class to volunteer answers to questions by saying “The worst thing that can happen is you get it wrong.” Are you fostering a similar sense of security in your team for creative thinking? Manager or not, if you scorn a substandard idea you could dim a teammate’s creative spark.

Give people room to be wrong and suddenly they’re brimming with ideas — good and not-so-good. Similar to filmmaking, creative thinking requires a lot of retakes.

Let’s say you’re announcing a proposal for online marketing strategy by emailing each team member a PDF file of test marketing ideas. How likely are you to encourage brainstorming and constructive criticism?
Even if you append it with “Let me know your thoughts!” sending the document electronically rather than going through it as a group implies the project has been set in stone. People are more reluctant to be upfront via email, lest their intent be misinterpreted in the absence of emotional cues in real-time discussion.

Reap maximum creative thinking power from meetings by beginning with a group brainstorm before unloading your ideas. Some of your brightest thinkers might not be comfortable countering the boss once he’s aired his views.

New Year’s Resolution: If, as a manager, you say “My door is always open,” yet email is your go-to communication channel, you are not fostering employee engagement. Establishing your presence as a leader is precedent to nurturing a top-notch team.
4. What do you expect from your career this year?

What do you like and dislike about your job? To get the most out of anything, you must ask yourself “What’s in it for me?” A short bulleted list will do, but recording in ink is important.

Now look at the “likes.” These are areas you can leverage for career development. Do you love the team you work with? Do you have ideas for improving team performance?

A leader is not necessarily a manager, but someone with an idea and the initiative to execute it. There’s no reason you can’t be team leader this year if you put a great idea on the table. The list shouldn’t be static. Update and refer to your “likes” as new opportunities arise to stoke your motivation year-round.

Now scan the “dislikes.” Are your gripes a matter of perception (your boss has mood swings, the workday starts too early) or are they tangible impediments (excessive overtime, stifling corporate culture)? Cross out as many “dislikes” as you can afford to and review the remaining ones. Note at least three possible solutions to each one and act on one of them.

New Year’s Resolution: Record and reflect. Forget grammatical structure, the idea is to purge, take stock and acquire the habit of generating your own solutions to problems.
5. Read more self-help books

Will Smith described his success this way: “I just kept my head down and ran hard.” Relentlessness will take you a long way, but it needs to be balanced with reflection and evaluation. Are you where you want to be in life? Would you want to work with you?

Self-help books awaken us to our potential to switch from auto-pilot to deliberate thoughts and actions that are aligned with success.