For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting five habits of good communicators based on the Honestly Speaking book. These are habits — not just one-and-done tactics you try — that effective communicators develop, hone, and deploy. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing 5 more each week, 25 in total.
Good communicators work at it, and some of being good at communicating is honing your skills, while other parts are more about working on yourself.
Here is the third group of five habits:
- They make a clear distinction between facts and opinions. Phrases like, “In my experience” or “According to the research I’ve read” go a very long way. This is about trust. If your audience can trust that you’re a reliable source of information, they are far more likely to trust you. Especially in our current political climate, leaders can stand out if they are clear about what’s opinion and what’s fact and provide a shared basis for conversation around a common set of facts.
- They ask questions. Questions are incredibly powerful. Not only do they clarify a situation, but they show you are a thoughtful and careful listener. Asking questions shows that you’re listening, and listening is the key to open and honest communication.
- They follow up when they say they will and don’t leave people hanging. You know that person in your life who takes forever to respond to a text or email? Or worse, that person who promises to follow up by a certain point and then never does? This is not just an annoyance — this is a healthy communication destroyer.
- They talk about their accomplishments in the context of what they learned. This is particularly important in a high-stakes situation, like a job interview, or if you have a hard time talking about yourself in a professional context. You absolutely should talk about all the great things you’ve done, but rather than supplying a list of all your accomplishments, you should be framing those accomplishments with the lessons you learned on the way. This shows humility, but it also shows a willingness and openness to learning new things.
- They are who they are. Always. We’ve talked a lot about authenticity in this book because it really is that important. The best communicators are trustworthy in the eyes of the people they are communicating with, and that trust starts with not making people guess what version of you will show up in any given moment. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because you’ll likely fail every time.
Find more of these habits and other tools to help you communicate better in Honestly Speaking: How the Way We Communicate Transforms Leadership, Love, and Life available now wherever books are sold.