“Communication has power, but like any powerful tool it needs to be used effectively or it can cause self-inflicted harm. Harnessing the power of communication is a fundamental leadership discipline.” – Helio Fred Garcia, President of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group and adjunct Professor of Management at New York University’s Stern School of Business
One of the reasons why some leaders aren’t consciously aware that their communication and speaking skills could improve is because they think they’re already good at it. When you consider, we’ve been communicating from the time we were born, this makes sense. However, if frustration, fear and challenges are showing up and we are not getting the results we desire, it can be because our communication skills need improving.
“The communicator never begins by telling the other part what he or she wants. Rather, he or she always begins by focusing on ways to trigger the desired reaction.” – Helio Fred Garcia, Author of “The Power of Communication”
- Do you recall times when you’ve felt misunderstood or someone has been totally unaware of their lack of communication competency?
- Can you remember times when your fears prevented you communicating and speaking naturally, authentically and effectively?
If you can relate to this, read on to hear what happened for Gemma…
“Wait!… You don’t need to speak to the Manager. I can get you better discounts.”, cried Kathy, frantically wanting to keep Gemma on the phone.
Was that desperation?
A three-minute phone call with the intention of finalizing Gemma’s insurance quote, was turning out to be a ten-minute obstacle course to get to talk with Sales Manager, Susan.
Gemma was exasperated:“What a contrast from speaking with Susan yesterday. She understood what I needed. We clicked!”
Susan’s expertise and her ability to communicate authentically and confidently had reassured Gemma.
“Talk to me! I can get you a better deal!” shattered Gemma’s reflection.
Kathy’s anxious tone cut to something deeper.
Feelings of annoyance and frustration rose within Gemma. Self-doubt ran through her head as she struggled to find an appropriate level of response. She wanted to clearly communicate her position.
Just when she needed it most, Gemma froze and her voice vanished. Her mind raced; her mouth went dry; her throat tightened and the terrifying old memories returned…
What if I get tongue tied
People don’t listen to me
People don’t find me convincing
I never have anything interesting to say
I’m going to look foolish if I speak up now
I’m obviously not clearly articulating what I mean
Why won’t people listen to me? I haven’t got anything interesting to say.
Her signature cell phone rang;“I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way…”
“Mmmmm…I have a choice. I can continue to doubt myself and get angry or I can take command. I could choose to speak from my heart and clearly articulate what I want to say.”
- Can you relate to Gemma and her situation?
- What have you done in those circumstances?
Whether your intention for communication and speaking is for professional or personal reasons, there are three top fears that can stop you from effectively leading, speaking from your heart and sharing your message. They are:
- Fear of not belonging: This could be when you hear yourself saying things, such as, “I don’t feel I belong here” or “I don’t think I blend in”
- Fear of not being loved: This could be your fear of being judged, looking foolish or being constantly concerned with what others may be thinking
- Fear of not being good enough: This is when you say to yourself “I can’t do that”, “I could never speak up like that” or “that’s too hard”
Dr Dan Baker, Medical Psychologist explains “we all have a neurological fear system embedded deep in our brains. A neural network that once helped us survive as a species but now limits our lives. This fear system is our repository for past trauma, current tribulation, fear of the future and archaic instinctual terrors”
Fear can be an inevitable part of our communication and speaking. Courageand confidence are achieved, not with the absence of fear, but with the willingness to take action in spite of feeling fear.
What stops you taking command and speaking authentically so that you can share what you want to say in your own speaking style?
Here are three essential steps to move from fearful to fabulous, which you can do anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Once you integrate these steps you’re well on you way to discovering the effective leader in you:
- Recognize: Give yourself time to gather yourself. It’s normal to feel stressed into thinking you need to say something straight away. As you observe any feelings, allow yourself to pause and reflect
- Re-energize:Breathe deeply so that you take in essential oxygen. When you do this, blood flows to the front of your brain so that you’ll find the best words to share
- Reconnect: As you breathe, slow down your pace of speaking and lower your tone. Remember you’re in command. You’re now ready to speak from your heart and share your message
Gemma collected her thoughts. Once she breathed deeply she engaged with what she most wanted to say:
“Thanks Kathy. Put me through to Susan, please.”
The firm yet gentle authority in Gemma’s tone was new. It got her the intended result and meant so much more.
May you speak naturally, authentically and lead effectively as you share your message!