This Simple Shift In A Leader's Communication Style Can Yield More Effective Results

Skip Weisman
January 10, 2012 — 862 views  

In a recent leadership training discussion around the "7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication" we did an exercise arIt was amazing to all participants at how easy it was to identify and articulate the things they wanted people on their teams, and their bosses, to stop doing.

 
The greater challenge was to identify and articulate the opposite behavior, the preferred desirable state. 
 
A simple example of this would be if someone was always late for meetings, someone would stay, "you have to stop being late to our meetings."
 
In theory, this is being specific (Leadership communication sin #1), as many people would think, that if someone would stop being late for meetings, they would show up on time. But, another possible solution is not attending them at all if someone is going to have to come in late. This may or may not be the bosses most desirable behavior in response to the original demand.
 
This type of communication is a problem for two reasons:
1) it violates leadership communication sin #1, a lack of specificity, and 
2) it is counter to how the mind of human being actually functions. The mind does not process the negative part of the statement. The mind basically ignores that "not," "stop," "don't" and the only thing left is to focus on the end of the statement, which is the undesirable behavior we are hoping to eliminate.
 
So, in the original scenario, what the mind processes in the "you have to stop being late to our meetings" is "being late for meetings."
 
For more examples of how to transition undesirable behaviors such as these to communicate more effectively and get better results from your communication as a leader, you can download "The 7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication" white paper report.
   
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Skip Weisman