Have you ever hit “send” on an email and immediately felt that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach as you realized the message should not have gone out as written?
Perhaps you blamed someone for something that was not entirely their fault. Or, maybe you just didn’t use the right words to communicate a difficult message. Congratulations if this has never happened to you – it certainly happens often! Sometimes, communication doesn’t go as planned – especially when things aren’t going well in general.
In this blog post, Evan Edwards, Team Building Consultant and Professional Learning Educator at 806 Technologies, shares her 8 tips to help you communicate with confidence. Whether you are communicating with staff members, students, community members, or business leaders, these tips will help you get your message across clearly, respectfully, and confidently.
1. Live your message.
Gandhi famously said, “My life is my message.” As a civil rights leader, he lived his values everyday through his actions—not just his words. All leaders are put under the microscope as they walk through every step of their day.
If you are a leader in your campus or district, it is important to remember that people are watching you, to see if your actions align with the message you convey. If you walk the walk and talk the talk, people will be more likely to listen and believe what you say.
Another aspect of leadership is the ability to evolve, grow, and refine your direction when appropriate. Provide the example that unlearning, at times, can be as critical as learning. By admitting when you are wrong, you model vulnerability and show that you are open to personal growth—a quality essential to every leader.
2. Speak less, listen more.
According to Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, people tend to get bored if you speak longer than 30 seconds. By 60 seconds, they may be nodding off.
Talking too much (and not listening) can frustrate others, dilute your message, and lead to disengagement, as people feel that they are not given a chance to contribute to the conversation. We all know how good it feels to talk about ourselves — so share this joy with others, and give them a sense of power by listening to what they have to say.
Listening also gives your organization more opportunities to improve and innovate, by opening the door to input from others. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell at this link.
3. Encourage open communication.
Keeping lines of communication open is essential in building trust — but not everyone communicates through the same channels. Consider different forms of communication, such as verbal, non-verbal, written, visual, and listening. Each aspect of communication is critical, and deserves attention.
Be open to communicating through each of these different channels, and strive to be consistent with your messaging. Education leaders should also be open to hearing new ideas. Building a strong culture of openness, risk-taking, and innovation requires leaders to create space for divergent thinking.
4. Get a different perspective.
Thinking about messaging from another perspective is powerful and often keeps the “egg off your face.” After you draft your message, consider letting someone else, who might think quite differently than you, read it with fresh eyes.
Depending on the content, you could ask several others to review your words and reflect on them to ensure the message you want to be delivered is what the reader will understand.
5. Stay out of common landmines.
Modeling solid lines of communication, living your message, and always focusing on listening will open up the space for meaningful dialogue. It is easy, at times, to fall into the pattern of “putting out fires,” only focusing on problems and solutions.
However, this approach can limit momentum within your organization. Focusing energy on proactive, forward-thinking, and future-oriented communication will keep your organization moving forward positively. Shifting organizational thinking can also improve innovation in teaching, leading to more positive outcomes for students.
6. Find your way.
Knowing yourself and understanding how others perceive your messaging is critical for building solid lines of communication. Learning to look, listen and adjust is vital in moving closer to your vision.
As you refine your communication style and build strong networks, you will achieve momentum naturally along the way. There is only one “you,” and your style, thinking, and communication delivery are unique. Be bold as you focus on building a communication plan that will positively impact your organization.
7. Be a coach.
Coaches are masters at building up the strengths of each player on the team. They are always thinking about ways to design plays that will capitalize on the unique abilities of each player. As a leader, you also have an opportunity to build on the strengths and best qualities of your team.
When communicating, remember that committed listening, paraphrasing, presuming positive intent, and providing reflective feedback will strengthen your team. Coaching team members and leveraging their strengths will produce winning results.
8. Celebrate often.
Every step toward achieving team goals moves your organization forward. Take the time to celebrate and acknowledge the movement and successes your team creates.
Communicating these victories is an excellent way to reward team members and recognize progress, which increases engagement and job satisfaction. As you look toward the vision of where you are going, be sure you’re taking time to enjoy the present, too.
We are here for you! Our team of certified educators at 806 Technologies can help you through every step of the way with our professional learning options.
806 Technologies is made up of experienced certified educators who have walked in your shoes.
We will partner with you to provide job-embedded support, mentoring, and training. Access our team of certified educators who can provide you with planning tools, advice, resources, and more.
Ready to build your school culture? Contact us today and let us help you achieve workplace excellence!