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Top-Shelf Tip No. 173:

"The art of communication is the language of leadership."

James Humes

Purge These Three Communication Mistakes

Knowing how to effectively communicate is a critical leadership skill. Leaders must be able to communicate their vision and goals in a way that inspires others to follow them. They must be able to handle rapid flows of information and share information with diverse audiences. As a leader, it's your responsibility to not just communicate a message, but to ensure that message is received and understood.

Ben Brearley, a leader, coach and consultant, says that leaders must take the time to be concise, clear and purposeful with their communication. If they don't, they have only themselves to blame if things don't go as planned. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Brearley's communication mistakes that all leaders should strive to avoid.

1. Failing to be concise and clear. Brearley says when you're not concise, your message takes longer to consume. If you send a five-page email which contains every single thing you can think of, then you're probably wasting a lot of people's time. The first step is to understand the purpose of your communication. Why are you communicating? What are you trying to achieve? When you're not clear on those, your message is harder to understand. If you're writing an email or a different document, be sure to structure it with headings and sections as appropriate, to ensure that the document flows well to improve readability and understanding.

2. Not communicating enough information. Brearley says this mistake can result in a few side effects which take up people's time and try their patience, such as unnecessary back-and-forth emails. When you're communicating information for someone else to take action, it's important that you include key parameters for what you'd like them to do. When you don't communicate information to your team, they may feel like they're in the dark. This can reduce motivation and make them feel isolated. Brearley encourages leaders to also watch out for wasted effort. If you don't tell your colleagues that your team is working on an important initiative, you might find out the work is already being done by somebody else.

3. Not communicating frequently enough. Change is always happening, but leaders don't always keep everyone in the loop. This can be especially frustrating when somebody is working on a task and then find out that it is no longer required. When plans change, you need to identify who your affected stakeholders are. Then, you need to make sure you're communicating with them so they can make a change too, if needed.

When you're busy, it's easy to make communication mistakes. However, it's important to stop and remember that communication isn't about you—it's about your audience. Don't communicate just to cross a to-do item off your list. If people don't understand, care about or have time to consume your message, it's pointless. Make sure that your message is received and understood by recipients.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is a leader, manager, MBA, coach and consultant passionate about developing thoughtful and effective leaders.