The ability to communicate is THE most important life skill that coaches, teachers, and leaders of employees need to develop. Like any other skill, it takes practice. The three most important words for the success of any leader, whether it be a soccer team, a classroom, or a business, are communication, communication, communication. The best leaders have good communication skills. The motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, emphasizes that “to effectively communicate, we must realize that we’re all different in the way we perceive the work and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
So what does it mean to have good communication skills? You would think that the answer to the question would be fairly simple. However, the phrase ‘good communication skills’ has become so cliché, overused, and broad, it’s hard to know what it really means. So let’s set up a common frame of reference.
If you have good communication skills, you have the ability to convey information to people clearly, simply, and efficiently so that things are understood and things get done. There are four basic categories of communication:
- Spoken or verbal communication including face-to-face, telephone, radio, or television and other media.
- Nonverbal communication including body language, gestures, how we dress or act.
- Written communication including letters, emails, text messages, books, magazines, and web-based media.
- Visual communication including graphics, charts, maps, and other visual representations.
Regardless of the category, communication is about sending and receiving information clearly. It is not only about what the sender of the information does. It is also about what the receiver does with it and about being able to read your audience. A person can have the best communication skills in the world, but they need to be in an environment where they are comfortable using their skill sets. Over the next several articles, I will discuss some of the key components of “good communication” that will hopefully improve your effectiveness as a leader.