Communication styles become as outdated as clothes. There are New Dynamics of Communication that change how we relate, influence and succeed. Some of us say hooray! Others...not so much.
Have you ever noticed someone whose communication style seemed stuck in the 20th century? You probablly didn't think about what it was that made them unconvincing, but on some level their pressure, manipulaton tactics and hype seemed as out of place as two inch shoulder pads.
Women, Gen Y, social media and globalization have changed the way we relate, influence and succeed. They changed – and continue to change – the nature of power.That's great news for those of us who naturally have a collaborative, elational and dynamic communication style. It's a huge challenge for those who mastered persuasion and command and control relating.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. The 1980’s brought about a rise in “power talk” through assertiveness training. The emphasis was on “telling it like it is.” The current communication trend adds grace to the assertive equation and the trend moves away from coercive power toward magnetic pull. New Dynamic Leaders may have less control, but they do have more influence than old rule communicators.
Previously, successful leaders were expected to adopt a role of authority which got results through intimidation and other forms of coercion. Gracertiveness retains the influence of genuine authority with a new emphasis on authenticity. I call it authentority.
Graceful assertiveness requires that we do much more than slap a smile on an aggressive style. A smiling SOB is actually an SOB and a phony. Like other aspects of Dynamic Leadership, graceful assertiveness starts on the inside and radiates out.
Speak with a balance of head, heart and will. Include thought, feeling and action in your words.
The 1980’s and early 90’s emphasized impersonal objectivity. Successful leaders were expected to hide their own humanity and avoid bringing their personalities and styles into play. The saying; “its business, it’s not personal” dismissed the relationship aspect of communication. We had human resources instead of people working for us. Now, Dynamic Leaders use business communication language that is increasingly personalized, engaged and conversational. We don’t speak primarily from power and objectivity anymore. Instead we personalize, personalize, personalize. Here are a few tips: 1) Acknowledge emotion, 2) be conversational. Communication is more than relaying information, 3) illustrate ideas with living examples, 4) monitor and eliminate or at least reduce impersonal and utilitarian language, 5) individualize, 6) when decisions impact others negatively, take responsibility for the human cost.
Whether we love or hate the microblogging marvel Twitter, we can’t ignore it. It changes the world we live in. Twitter (and similar sites) both shape and reflect the nature of today’s workforce – even beyond those who use it. Communication is increasingly about being precise and concise, simple without being simplistic. Dynamic Leaders can develop this succinctness by learning to speak in sound-bites and avoiding the temptation to pontificate. Pithy words get heard. Anything we communicate that doesn’t add to a message detracts from it – and doesn’t compete with the latest text message or twitter post.
The workplace isn’t a democracy where the majority rules—it is a synocratic setting where the majorities and minorities and all involved contribute to outcome. That means we: 1) stop shouting removed judgments from the bleachers, come down to the playing field and engage, 2) invite collaboration and partner with the people we mentor, lead and coach, and 3) alchemize differences. Find the synergy between individual natures within each team, group and unit. In the film Avatar, Colonel Quaritch asks the question, “How can we make them collaborate?” Obviously this is a distortion of what collaboration is. It also leaves no room for synergy.
The social dynamics of our culture demand dynamic momentum. We dynamize our communication when we use language and communication that impels (not compels) forward thinking, speaking and action. Some tips: 1) Use immediacy. Speak to what is happening in the present and then bridge the present with a visionary future filled with possibility. (I used immediacy when I spoke about how we used Dynamic Leadership principles in writing this book.) 2) Drop or at least adapt catch phrases in favor of fresh wording for each situation, 3) Welcome audibles. An audible is a football term for allowing the quarterback to change a play if the formation on the field indicates the need. Audibles allow for coordinating spontaneity, which creates momentum, 4) Uplift. Empower people to be their best selves and to develop and apply new skills. We want our words to bring out the best in those we speak to.The New Dynamics keep our communication up to date.
Let the old rules of communicaton die a natural death and embrace the New Dynamics. It's a lot like cleaning out your closet. It might be painful for a while to let go of some of those old favorites, but you will be glad that you did.