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January 8, 2013

10 Communication Practices To Stop in 2013

As we begin 2013, I thought it might be useful to share what’s on the “Outs” for this year.  In some cases, these “Outs” were never in fashion yet are sadly still common.

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Start the year off strong with a commitment to stop those bad habits that get in the way of getting the results you want, and being your best self.

Here’s my list:

Out: Communicating from our perspective alone

We’re clear what’s in our heads and what we think.  What’s even more powerful to know is what others think and where they’re coming from.  That’s how we can decide how best to motivate and move others to action.

Out: Too much talking and not enough listening

Make this the year you will listen first.  Ask open-ended questions.  Paraphrase what you’re hearing.  Then, provide your commentary and coaching.

Out: The same old communication cadence.

In today’s business world, more people today are working virtually and change is the norm.  That means additional communication touch points are needed.  Attention bosses: you need to communicate more and more effectively with your people.  What’s your rhythm of communication for your key audiences?

Out: Email is your default communication method. 

Email is effective for sharing detailed information such as informing others of decisions made or recapping action items, scheduling meetings, sharing documents, or summarizing a conversation.  Make 2013 the year you commit to more phone and face-to-face conversations.

Out: Not setting boundaries for your availability on vacation

If you can’t disconnect from email to go on vacation for a week, it’s says a lot about your effectiveness as a leader.  The most effective leaders plan ahead, manage up, set their team up for success, and understand the value of time off to recharge.  Plus, think about the shadow you cast for your staff when you’re connected on vacation; it tells them that they need to do the same.

Out: Waiting to communicate a change, or worse yet, bad news. 

While you wait to communicate, others are communicating for you, and you’re going to be in clean up mode.  Communicate sooner than you might think, and get the dialogue going.  What do you know?  What don’t you know?  Share both. 

Out: Making things up. 

Stop pretending you have all the answers.  If you don’t know the answer, say so.  It’s a credibility enhancer.

Out: Telling people what to do. 

No one likes something done to them.  Involve your people in decision-making.  Ask questions.  Allow people to come up with their own solutions.  Cheer from the sidelines and give them the credit.

Out: Reply all. 

Need I say more?  It should be used rarely, if ever.

Out: Overconfidence in our leadership and communication skills. 

In some organizations, it’s pure arrogance and a lack of self-awareness. It’s human nature to overestimate our skills.  This is an area where we overestimate a ton. Everyone – no matter what level – can improve how they communicate and lead others. With change as the norm, there’s no skill more critical to your success than effective communication.  The majority of the problems you have are rooted in the absence of transparent, authentic and courageous communication.

What “out” are you guilty of that you’ll commit to stop in 2013?


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