Improving our conversation skills is something we can all do to become better leaders. Emotionally intelligent leaders are also the most successful. For many people, this is an active choice. It’s something they have trained and developed, not a natural trait. You can do this too if you take the time to adjust some things about how you communicate.
How many times have you looked back on a conversation and wished you’d said something a different way? When conversations get heated or stressful, it’s easy to focus on making sure you get heard. But instead, it might be worth focusing on making sure you are saying the right thing. Take a pause, and a breath, before you reply. The other person will thank you more for a measured response, and the fact that you can take time to slow down will take some of the heat out of the exchange.
There are almost no situations in which you have to respond straight away if you don’t want to. If you don’t know how to best react, then leave it until later, or tomorrow. Wait until you are no longer emotional about the situation, and then respond from a place of control. Even in less stressful situations, a little time to think can be the difference between a snap decision and a good decision.
When listening to someone else, it’s very often a good idea to ask for more explanation or expansion on what they’re saying. This is one of the great tools of active listening and will make the other person feel heard. But not only that, it will also mean you are better informed and more in tune with situations. Take the time to say, “Tell me a little more about that”, or “Can you expand on that a little?”
If someone is giving you a lot of information, then feel free to summarise it back to them when they finish. This will show that you listened and understood. It will also give them the opportunity to correct any misapprehension. Try something like, “Okay. What I’m understanding is that…” and then give a short summation of what they told you.
These habits will go a long way towards making you a better leader and making sure your people feel valued and listened to.