Communication Skills Articles
Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP
Supervisors, managers, and
executives increase their value and credibility when they keep their messages,
comments and responses positive.
One word that should become part of every leader’s vocabulary is the word,
"yes." For example, if one of your employees says to you, "Thank you for those
insights. I can use them at work and in my personal life. I know I can apply
this in my relationships with my husband and my children."
The next word you say should be, "yes." "Yes, I think you've hit upon something
Positive affirmations not only verify the importance of your message, but bring
practical application to other employees who might be in earshot. Remember the
E. F. Hutton commercial? Everyone else around that person hears a positive
message coming from one of their peers.
Saying "Yes" to employees’ comments shows that you care about your employees,
you value their opinions and insights, and you welcome their input. This all
helps build the rapport necessary for effective communication.
But what happens if one of your employees disagrees with you? This becomes a
great opportunity for you to try build rapport and a relationship with that
person even though you don't agree. It also gives you a second chance to discuss
your side of the issue without a debate or hard feelings.
I use a technique I call Reflect -- Respect -- Respond. For example, if
an employee were to say to you, "I don't think this would work in my situation."
Rather than engaging in a debate or trying to sell that person on your idea,
repeat what you heard to that person. "You don't think that would work in your
situation." That's the Reflecting part. You have proven to the employees
that you were listening. And, this shows that you value them and that their
input is important.
After Reflecting what the person says, use the Respect component. Rather
than immediately defending your position or putting that person on the
defensive, validate what that person has said. Let the employee know his or her
feelings or thoughts are not unknown or unreasonable. You could say something
like, "Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I've talked with others who felt the
same way. They didn't feel comfortable with these ideas either."
The most important part of the Respecting technique is that you are sincere
with the comment. This sincerity comes from empathy for your employees. If you
are not sincere when you use the Respecting component, you can do more harm than
Then your Response could then be, "Indeed, I have had many of those same
people come back to let me know they tried the techniques and that they worked."
One word you should avoid with the Reflect -- Respect -- Respond
technique is, "but." As soon as you use the word, "but," you cancel the message
you said before the "but."
For example, if you Reflected and Respected properly and then said, "But, I have
had many of those same people come back to let me know they tried the techniques
and that they worked," you have negated their feelings. "But" in this instance,
becomes as powerful in a negative sense as the word, "No." Simply drop the word,
Reflect -- Respect -- Respond. This three step strategy, when practiced,
puts a positive spin on a negative situation and sometimes helps you win more
friends and gain a lot of respect.
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