Listening and candor. They’re two of the most valuable tools of effective communication, but they’re often overlooked. Listening is the focus of my first Management Tip this week. We often spend too much time asserting our views and responding to others, and too little time listening to—and genuinely hearing—what they have to say. This is ineffective communication, and people can easily sense when managers are more concerned with their own points of view than understanding the team’s position, which undermines their trust in your leadership.
Here’s a rule of thumb: In a conversation with your team, you should listen as much as you talk. If you don’t, they will eventually stop sharing their thoughts with you.
The second tip this week is about understanding how and when to use candor—meaning honest, forthright, straightforward comments—rather than sugar–coating your words. Many managers trip over themselves to be nice, and instead of giving meaningful feedback, they concentrate on not offending. This is understandable, but rarely the best choice. High-performing teams learn how to embrace candor and deliver comments constructively and positively with no malice or ill will.
Communication skills can make or break your career, so remember that listening is often more useful than talking, and to be straight with people when you do speak. When you follow both of these principles, you’ll find your team and colleagues are more willing to listen to what you have to say.