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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

by Marjorie K. Treu

TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

If we want to be heard we must speak in a language the listener can understand and on a level at which the listener is capable of operating. -M. Scott Peck

PART 1 Verbal Communication If you surveyed employees and asked them what their top challenges at work are, the answer communication would appear near the top of the list. It does nearly every time. And, its even more of a challenge the larger your organization.

The answer communication is too basic so we will look at these specific areas in this ecourse: Part 1 Verbal Communication Part 2 - Listening Part 3 Nonverbal Communication Part 4 Written Communication Part 5 Business Presentations

There are, of course, many more areas within interpersonal communication for leaders to include in their skill set. This ecourse gives you the basics to get you started on the journey of connecting better with team members.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Interaction between people is the basis of communication.

Words, sound, speaking, and language are some of the key

components that make up verbal communication. Communication develops not from words alone, but the meaning people put into the words.

As leaders, we try to eliminate misunderstanding through speaking directly with someone. The frustrating thing is we make these assumptions: Talking indicates our message is as important to them as it is to us Our message is clear People like us enough to listen and learn The language we use relates to all people

Verbal communication can be separated into two major areas interpersonal and public speaking presentations. We will cover presentations in Part 5. For now, lets focus on interpersonal verbal communication.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Interpersonal Verbal Communication

Have you ever said something and wished at the exact moment the statement is hanging in the air you could immediately take it back? You said it poorly, it wasnt what you meant to say, and the person you are talking with looks devastated (or worse angry!).

It is essential to your success to gracefully execute good verbal communication. Do not take effective speaking lightly. When you become casual in your approach is when misinterpretation occurs and things can quickly derail.

Keep these tips and techniques in mind during your oral communication:

Think before you speak. Prepare as if you are giving a speech. What is your purpose for talking? Who is your audience? What is important to them about your message?

Be organized. Present your ideas in a logical fashion. Have you given enough background information? Do you need to keep a chronological framework in mind?
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Eliminate (at least Reduce) verbal pauses. Be conscious of how um, oh, and ahs, impact your message and reflect on your credibility. The last thing you want to do is irritate the listener or sound uncertain about what you are saying. What to do instead Just Be Silent!

Avoid offensive and careless language. Talk in such a way that people will be clear about your thoughts and ideas. Do not leave them guessing about your message. Avoid profanity, sarcasm (often disguised as humor), and extremes (words like always or never) just to get attention. Be accurate about facts and how events occurred.

Ask questions for clarification. Use a combination of closed and open questions to create dialogue and verify your message is being understood. Open questions can begin with the words how, when, what, or why and are asked to solicit input. You will get lots of information and explanations that allows for better comprehension by all involved.

Watch the other person for clues. Look at the people you are speaking with. What is their body language telling you? Is your message getting through or are they disengaged? If you are not making a good impression, then change your style to reconnect in a more positive manner.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Communication experts say that communication is composed of different methods: words, tone of voice, and non-verbal clues. When delivering your message keep in mind the following in a conversation or verbal interaction:

Communication Method Words you use Tone of your voice Non-verbal clues (see Team Leadership Essentials Part 3)

Effectiveness of Message 7% 38% 55%

Keep in mind HOW you say it is more important than WHAT you say!

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Part 2 - Listening

In empathic listening, you listen with your eyes and with your heart, you use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel. Empathic listening is powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. -Stephen R. Covey

Jodie Jasperson is a wise mother. She has taught her children from little on that their #1 job is to LISTEN! I have personally witnessed her guide her kids to better behavior, and with consistent application the transformation can be impressive. The problem, however, is that most schools do not teach kids how to listen. It is assumed that somewhere along the way people will pick up good listening skills before they enter the workforce. If you were to peek into some organizations, you would find this is not the case and confusion reigns.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


What Gets in the Way of Your Listening? In the every day chaos of the business world, people can find plenty of excuses for not listening better. Thinking about your own behavior while listening to others, are you possibly guilty of: Pretending to listen Interrupting Judging everything Taking over conversations Multi-tasking Being seen as busier than co-workers Getting defensive and being opinionated Thinking negatively about the person speaking Thinking of what you will say in response If this is hitting too close to home, consider exchanging some poor habits for ones that will serve you better in a leadership role.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


The Basics of a Listening Leader Yes, your organization values your knowledge and experience but it also counts on you to understand interpersonal dynamics. A leader who struggles with low morale, high absenteeism, and increasing turnover is probably a leader who has failed to truly listen to the needs and concerns of their team. If you find yourself in this situation or simply want to avoid getting into that position here is some practical advice on how to listen better.

Elements of Listening Show attentiveness toward the speaker. Be fully present, aware, and open to the other person. Simply put Pay Attention! Use appropriate body language. Indicators that you are listening include maintaining eye contact, nodding, facing the speaker directly, and using vocalizations such as uh-huh.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Take notes. It indicates to the speaker that what they are saying is important and you want to capture their thoughts accurately.

Paraphrase what was said. Use the technique of paraphrasing to verify you understand what the speaker has said. For example, What I hear you saying is Then repeat your exact understanding of the message.

Check your judgments of the speaker. Be aware of any personal prejudices you may have against the speaker, and take extra care when listening. Be direct, courteous, calm and acknowledge any differing opinions. Avoid any patronizing or condescending behavior and personal attacks.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


Top 10 Active Listening Tips 1. Allow the speaker to finish their comments do not interrupt; do not finish the speakers sentence. 2. Acknowledge any feelings. 3. Put yourself in the other persons shoes; understand their concerns. 4. Exhibit patience during conversations. 5. If they speaker pauses, just wait. Do not be afraid of a little silence. This allows the speaker to think about what they said. 6. Only think about the subject matter under discussion. Suspend judgment. 7. Ask questions for clarification. 8. Find a balance between how much you listen and how much you talk. 9. Treat conversations as confidential; unless given permission by the speaker to share the information.

Active listening does not come naturally to most people yet it is a necessary skill that can be refined with only a moderate amount of effort.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Part 3 Nonverbal Communication

Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words. -Deborah Bull

If you believe the researchers, nonverbal communication accounts for 50 -80% of the message you are communicating. If you want to communicate well, then it makes sense to understand how you can and cannot use your body to say what you mean. Lets back up a bit. The area of nonverbal communication is comprised of more than just body language.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Whether you are conscious of it or not, everything about you communicates information. The objects you surround yourself with clothes, jewelry, pictures, home, cars all express your interests and lifestyle. In the business world, the way you dress affects how willing others are to follow you. Psychological research supports that clothes do make the man.

What are the objects around you communicating about your leadership ability?

The first impression you create extends beyond clothing. The simple act of shaking hands can create both positive and negative feelings. Your feelings are positive when the touch is perceived as natural, and negative when the touch is perceived as manipulative. Now lets move to the topic of kinesics, or body language, as a powerful way human beings communicate nonverbally. Its important to note that your verbal message is being filtered through what your body is communicating. Is what your body says reinforcing your message? Or, is your body speaking a completely different language?

The website www.changingminds.org provides a good resource in offering information and tips on specific body language interpretations.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

You can also send signals with individual parts of the body. Here are details on each part also from www.changingminds.org

Head We look a lot at the other person's head, which is used to send many signals to us. Many are subconscious, which can be very useful. Arms We often talk with our arms, wind milling as we describe with arms and hands what we are saying. Torso The torso, though often ignored, contains the main mass of the body and can give important signals. Legs The legs often betray body language when the person is trying to control their body (and often forget the lower half). Particularly when seated, if you can look down you may find another story. As you can see, it is not only what you say that is important, but its how you say it that can make the difference to your team. Rather than over-analyze and create paranoia, lets simplify nonverbal communication to the following behaviors.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

1. Eye Contact - helps regulate the flow of communication and it signals interest in others. Eye contact with audiences increases the speaker's credibility. 2. Facial Expressions smiling is a powerful connector and you will be perceived as likable, friendly, warm, and approachable. Its also contagious! 3. Gestures used wisely, gestures can enhance your message and you will not be perceived as boring, stiff, or unanimated. 4. Body Posture enough has been said previously. Just be conscious of the way you walk, stand, and sit. 5. Proximity cultural norms dictate the physical distance between people for a comfortable interaction. Watch for signals (rocking, leg swinging, tapping, avoiding eye contact) that you may be invading someones personal space. 6. Tone of Voice for maximum communication effectiveness learn to vary the tone, pitch, rhythm, timbre, loudness, and inflection of your voice. Team members listen poorly when the message is delivered in a monotone. Understanding nonverbal communication improves with practice, and your first practice step is to recognize the power of your unspoken communication. Point to Ponder: If the words you speak are different than your nonverbal communication, team members will listen to your nonverbal communication.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


Part 4 Written Communication

Writing is a communication. -Theodore Sturgeon

There are too many aspects of business writing to capture in this document, however, there are some general principles to keep in mind as you communicate in written form. It takes time and skill to create effective written communication. As it relates to business, leaders must deliver their message clearly and succinctly if they want to be successful. A poorly crafted written message not only creates confusion but casts doubt on your ability to effectively manage.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


The most common types of written communication include: Business letters Email messages Proposals

Regardless of the type of method, there are several common things to keep in mind to be a good writer.

Writing Guidelines

1. Have a clear purpose for writing and communicate it. Are you passing along information that requires no response? Do you want the reader to take action? Do you want a dialogue with someone else?

2. Explain what the person reading your message is to do. Keep the topic small enough for the reader to understand and be inspired. Create a compelling call to action.

3. Outline the benefits for responding as requested. Think in terms of WIIFM - Whats in it for me? The value must be to the benefit of the reader.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

4. Establish your credibility and show respect for the reader. Make sure your reader is interested in your subject. Use all available tools to check spelling, grammar and punctuation. People can be offended by sloppiness so always proofread your message before sending it.

5. Choose the best communication method to deliver your message. Email is the most informal method and least recommended for external customer interaction. Responding to Proposals is the most formal method, and typically requires more analysis and an Executive Summary section.

The Best Advice

Do More With Less!

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Remember when you needed to submit a 1,000 word paper and wrote long sentences to hit the required word count? Todays busy managers no longer have the time to sift through lengthy messages to get to the heart of your communication.

Its time to become more efficient by using less wordiness. Try this Practice Activity. The paragraph below contains 70 words. Can you cut it down to 35 words or less?
This document is for the purpose of giving the reader a detailed explanation of the inventory process. It describes the activities we currently do in the majority of instances on a daily and weekly basis. In order to provide an introduction to the process for employees who work on a temporary basis, we also have prepared an overview, which describes the highlights of the inventory process in just two pages.

Practice Activity Revision:

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Simple Substitutions Consider these alternatives to help you lighten up your sentences: Original For the purpose of The majority of In order to Provide an introduction On a daily basis On a regular basis Alternative For Most To Introduce Daily Routinely

Overcoming Writers Block There will come a time when you get stuck and stare at a blank screen or an empty page. To regain your writing inspiration try these tips: Just write; no censoring. Let the ideas flow and capture the words without worrying whether or not the writing is good. Get out and talk with your peers. Telling someone you are struggling now could lead to a brainstorm.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

Imagine having a conversation with your reader. Talk (write) any part of the conversation beginning, middle, or end. Dont spend time perfecting a conversation starter. Begin with whatever thought comes to mind.

Take a 10-minute play break. A simple shift to an unrelated activity or a change of scenery can jumpstart your thinking. Here is a 30-word revision:

This document explains the inventory process in detail. It describes our usual daily and weekly activities. We also have prepared a two-page overview to introduce the process to temporary employees.
Additional Writing Resources

Elements of Style, William Strunk. Original 1918. Allyn & Bacon; 4th edition (January 15, 2000) ISBN: 020530902X.
Other great books online - http://www.bartleby.com/ The World's Easiest Guide to Using the APA - Stargazer Publishing Company 3rd edition (October 2002) ISBN: 0971375666 Business Writing Books http://www.writerswrite.com/books/writers/biz.htm Business Writing Books - Crisp Publications, publishers of 50-minute books Stephen Wilbers, writing consultant who writes a syndicated weekly column "Writing for Business" Writers Digest Books - publisher of books for writers, including many that teach more effective writing.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


Part 5 Business Presentations

All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears - of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words "Some Assembly Required. -Dave Barry

Your boss has just volunteered you to give an annual review to your board of directors. You are flatteredyou are scared. Now what happens?

Lets be clear business presentations and public speaking are two distinct forms of communication. Both require some of the same skill set, however, public speaking usually has an added dimension; to inspire or motivate the audience.

Making effective presentations both inside and outside your organization is a regular part of a leaders job. Your ability to clearly and concisely deliver an understandable message is what can set you apart from others, and put you on a career fast track. Experts tell us that people fear public speaking more than death. What will help overcome this fear? Two words: Education and Practice. Lets take a look
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


Business Presentation Goal

To make sure your listeners take away specific information or respond with specific action! You want the audience to know, think, or do something that has a positive impact on the organization itself.

Presentation Preparation 1. Organize the material. Develop your objective, choose a title, and outline the body. Three main points with supporting information is an effective formula. Supporting information can include: Facts Statistics Quotes Comparisons Narratives Questions

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

2. Write out the entire presentation. OPENING: Acknowledge the person who introduced you, grab audience attention, motivate audience to continue listening, and provide an overview of your material. CLOSING: Briefly summarize the presentation and write a compelling closing statement that moves the audience to action.

3. Rehearse! Get out of your chair and begin timing the presentation. Read the introduction (eventually this will be memorized). Talk through the entire body of material. Use your visual aids as you would during the presentation. Read the conclusion (again, memorize prior to your speech). Revise your material to fit your allotted timeframe.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


Stand Up and Deliver Room preparation checklist. 1. 2. 3. 4. Tables and chairs setup appropriately? All equipment in working order? Backup available? Sound and lighting functioning? Support staff available and know their role?

Visual aid checklist. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Visual aids support your presentation? One visual aid for every 3-5 minutes of presentation? Visual aids are readable from every angle in the room? Message titles are clear and use action words? Pictures and graphics do not violate copyright law? Are in good taste? Visual aids are appealing? Popular choices: handouts, flipcharts, PowerPoint, video, transparencies

Prepare yourself. 1. Dress for success. Keep clothing low key, minimize accessories, pick colors you wear to work (no plaids or prints), women do not overdo make-up, men remove coins from pockets. 2. Breathe through nervousness. Breathe deeply and concentrate on getting enough air. You do not want to squeak or gulp in the middle of a sentence. 3. Give sincere eye contact to all corners of the audience. Depending on audience size, look at each person before you begin.
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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

4. Be careful of what you eat just prior to speaking. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and spicy or hard to digest food. Trust me on this! The first 10-minutes and last 5-minutes are crucial. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Focus on your message. Know your material. Be enthusiastic and energetic. Capture audience attention early. Ask questions to show you are listening to them. If your presentation is longer than 20-minutes, be sure to move around. Be sincere. Close with a call-to-action.

Thats it! Simple, right? On the following page is a Presentation Planner for you to use as a checklist for upcoming presentations.

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


PRESENTATION PLANNER
Presentation Where: Date: Start/End Time: Topic: Purpose: Desired Results:

Audience Who? Number? Their knowledge of topic? Their vocabulary level?

Facilities Location / Directions: Contact Name: Seating arrangement: Equipment:

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


PRESENTATION PLANNER
Organize Your Material Presentation Objective(s): Title: Sequence: Delivery Method:

Presentation Body Main Point #1 (include supporting information): Main Point #2 (include supporting information): Main Point #3 (include supporting information):

Visual Aids Main Point #1: Main Point #2: Main Point #3:

Presentation Opening Presentation Closing

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication


Thank you for joining me on this journey highlighting essential communication skills for increasing your leadership credibility. Wishing you continued success always.

Lead like you mean it! Marjorie

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TEAM LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS: The Art of Communication

About the Author

Marjorie K. Treu
Team leadership mentor Marjorie Treu, CEO of Team Fusion, works with small businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies to help leaders create collaborative, cohesive, and conscious teams.

If you liked this eBook, contact Marjorie about training, workshops, coaching, and other resources to help leaders at all levels develop themselves and build ultimate success. Subscribe to our FREE bi-weekly ezine, Team Talk

Today, to get the latest team building tips. Learn more now at www.TeamFusion.net.

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