Almost every leader has a few bad habits that keep them from becoming great communicators, writes Julian Treasure, a communication coach, for the TED Ideas blog. Behind the mistakes are common emotional responses that get in the way of working effectively with your staff, argues Treasure, a five-time TED speaker.
Pulling from his experience with training fellow speakers, Treasure identifies the common mistakes that lead to bad communication habits—and how they hurt your team.
Mistake 1: Wanting to look good
Most people want to look good in front of others, but this urge can lead you pretend that you know everything, writes Treasure. But you stunt your professional growth when you act as if you’ve got nothing left to learn, he adds.
How it hurts your communication: Under this mindset, you risk spending valuable meeting time developing a “brilliant monologue” instead of a thoughtful response to your colleagues’ words, he argues. But the most productive conversations happen when people build off each other’s remarks, says Sabina Nawaz, a leadership coach. Let your partner’s words inform your own ideas before you offer a counter-argument, she says.
Mistake 2: Always needing to be right
This habit can destroy your personal and work relationships, Treasure warns. When propelled by an urge to prove your point, you may interrupt others to disagree or demand answers.
How it hurts your communication: When you interrupt, you lose out on potentially useful or enlightening information from your team. Most importantly, interruptions can make your colleagues feel belittled or resentful, he warns.
Mistake 3: Trying to please everyone
We all strive to be well-liked, but that urge can compel you to agree with ideas you don’t believe in or volunteer for projects you don’t have time for. To break the habit, spend some time soul searching to unearth your core values, he recommends. When you feel pressured to acquiesce to others’ needs, use your core values to guide your response, he explains.
How it hurts your communication: If your colleagues perceive you as a people-pleaser, they’re less likely to find your words authentic or honest.
Mistake 4: Preventing others from expressing themselves
If you’re uncomfortable with negative emotions, you might tamp down your employees’ natural reactions to difficult situations.
How it hurts your colleagues: When you deny people an outlet for their emotions, you undermine your position as a trustworthy confidante and discourage your team from expressing themselves at work, he argues. Great leaders understand that the people on their team are humans—not robots, argues Harvey Deutschendorf, an emotional intelligence expert. When your team members encounter difficult life events, show them that you understand what they’re going through, he adds.
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