Graham Andrewartha | Director | MCA group

There are several behaviours that can contribute to being an influential communicator.

From least effective to most influential, they include: just talking, lip service listening, listening, observing and listening, full understanding and shared meaning.

Very few leaders engage in the last two.

Building influence as a communicator is similar to constructing a well-designed building; it requires effort and careful planning, strong foundations, and attention to detail in order to effectively convey your message and leave a lasting impression on others.

Here are my 6 tips

1. It requires effort to be a good communicator

“But listening carefully, being curious and observing body language is very tiring and stressful,” exclaimed one of the senior managers I was coaching. “Even worse,” she continued, “you’re also suggesting I should modify what I say next, based upon what I see and hear!”

And yes it is correct. If you want to be an effective communicator, you need to work hard, continuously. And yes, even in those casual, not really work conversations, being careless and not paying attention can build some unfortunate perceptions that later impact on your leadership.

But why do so many of us find it stressful? Certainly it means thinking about the other person and observing them really carefully. It means considering their needs and their importance to the organisation. In means valuing them as a person and as a colleague. Why are these things stressful or tiring?

Brené Brown would say it has to do with us being vulnerable. To listen and be curious and pay that much closer attention to a colleague or a client means revealing yourself as well. It means interacting in a meaningful way which works only if it is an interactive conversation versus just talking. We need to give some of ourselves in order to get what we want for the business.

And there are no KPI’s to this sort of communication. In most organisations our rules and measures are focused on achieving results, being successful, growing clients, and making money. There are few KPI’s for being an effective an influential communicator. Nor for caring for each other and being kind.

This ‘soft’ skill, as my manager noted above, is hard work.

2. Construct your communication before hand

Ask yourself:

  • what do I know about them?
  • what’s important to them?
  • what is my goal?
  • what is the best time to have this conversation?
  • what understanding do they already have about the matter?
  • are there any aspects that may cause a reaction?
  • what positives can I draw upon?

3. Plan what you want to say and how you want to say it

  • how can you tailor your words (and your non verbals) to fit in with the way they see the world?
  • understand what is in it for them.
  • are they fast or gradual speakers?
  • do they prefer concepts or details?

Our Influence Dimensions tool assists with this matching skill.

4. Listen! No I mean it, REALLY listen

  • pause regularly.
  • do not rehearse your next words.
  • consider how their words impacted on you.
  • clarify what you heard.

5. Observe the other person fully and be curious

  • look into their eyes.
  • experience their facial expressions.
  • consider their body language.
  • what do these elements suggest to you?
  • how can you use them to increase understanding between you?

6. Match their world view, language patterns and body language

  • using the above 5 steps, think and practice being more like them.
  • how might they view this matter?
  • how can you modify your words to sound a little more like they speak?
  • how can you modify your non verbals to look a little more like they appear?
  • look for the meaning in what you are saying.

Try it.

If you would like to explore how to be a more influential communicator, please contact us by phone on 1300 856 480 or by email