How to choose your comunication style

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What is the no1 thing for any leader to improve?  – IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Jean Chretien, Canadian Prime Minister said in 1984 that “Leadership means making people FEEL GOOD”. While this might be an exaggeration it is certainly true that the secret central to practicing right communication in leadership is making the person you are talking to FEEL VALUED.

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Leadership is about INFLUENCING FOLLOWERS and the process happens through communication. Leaders use communication skills not only to connect with followers but also as spokespersons for their teams, as diplomats in solving conflicts among members, as advocates of change and as vision representatives. HIGH-LEVEL communication skills are needed for all these activities. The road to these skills starts with the basic communication skills and psychologist Ronald Riggio (2018) gives some suggestions on how to improve these 5 basic skills. After the name of the skill and its definition, a hint will be given how to improve it.

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  1. EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIVENESS – The ability to effectively emphasize emotion in your communications. This is particularly important when trying to motivate followers, and when making presentations. The expression of positive affect and enthusiasm is critical. You need to get some feedback, whether that is asking trusted friends for it, or videotaping yourself, get a sense of how good you are at expressing feelings. Also, try wearing and feeling a smile – greeting others with a smile and general positive affectivity will help. Great leaders are upbeat and optimistic.
  2. EMOTIONAL SENSITIVITY – This is a skill in “reading” others’ emotions and is related to empathy. A leader needs to be able to understand followers’ feelings and concerns and react appropriately to them. To improve emotional sensitivity, focus on facial expressions and tone of voice. Use active listening techniques, such as reflecting (“I hear you saying you are satisfied, but I sense that you’re not…”).
  3. EMOTIONAL REGULATION – At times, you need to rein in your strong emotions – particularly the negative ones. Again, get feedback about your emotional expressions from others. When experiencing strong emotions, take time to think, or when angry, count to ten.
  4. SOCIAL SENSITIVITY – Where Emotional Sensitivity is the ability to read others’ emotions, social sensitivity is the ability to read social situations, and learning how to “fit in.” Enhance your powers of observation. Study the cues being given off by others.  Learn the culture of the group or organization you are leading and learn how to adapt.
  5. SOCIAL CONTROL – “Knowing how to be – a leader”. This is playing the role of the leader. Taking charge in situations where you need to. Thinking ahead and adequate preparation (rehearsing) of leadership situations will help.

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Those were the basic skills for leaders but please do check other communication skills like assertiveness or active listening in Joyful Leadership manual. It is assumed that you have already mastered them. At the end of this short video a practical advice. If in doubt about what to practice or how to communicate as a leader ask yourself a question “Do people I am talking to feel good and valued?”. If the answer is yes you are on the right track. If the answer is no, please go back to the drawing board of your communication or come to our joyful leadership workshop. In the meantime carpe diem or “seize the day” to improve your leadership communication.

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  1. Petar Turcinovic, Joyful Leadership Manual
  2. Riggio, R. (2018, February 21). That One Thing That Will Make You a Better Leader. Retrieved from URL


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