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5. Be consistent and equal

Be sure to be consistent in the way you deal with people. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t adapt yourself to different situations and personalities; in fact this signifies a flexible and skilled leader, but you must be fair and equal.

Don’t give unjustified favour to one person or group of people, unless there is a legitimate business reason to do so – for example, you may give extra favour to your high end or elite clients, or may disclose extra information and discretions to your personal assistant.

You must be mindful to show equality to all people and you have a legal obligation to do so. For example, there a specific laws around race equality, religion and belief, disability and gender. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these so you don’t inadvertently violate someone’s rights or offend a particular group without even knowing it.

For example, some religions pray at a specific time each week and if you schedule a weekly meeting at that time, you may be discriminating against them, not good for communication! This could similarly discriminate against part time workers or carers who pick up children from school. So just be mindful of these things.

6. Be constructive with your feedback

There are times then you will be required to give constructive criticism and make requests about things that you think can be improved. In order for this necessary criticism to have the most impact and the desired outcome, it is a good practice NOT to criticise small, insignificant things, or gossip and make criticisms about other people with whom the person you are communicating with has no relevance.

7. Keep a positive attitude and smile

People like to be around positive people and if you generally maintain an upbeat, optimistic attitude that implicitly says ‘we can get this done, I believe in you, me and the team’, people will respect you and generally respond well.

Never underestimate the power of a genuine, well-placed smile in increasing your communication significantly.

8. Ask ‘why should they care?’

Before you launch into what you want to achieve or giving instructions in your role as leader, always ask yourself ‘why should this person care about this?’ You need to get ‘buy in’ from the person and this will differ between different people.

For example, if you are communicating with sales staff about targets, one person may be driven by competitiveness – the thought of getting the most sales or earning a bigger bonus. Someone else may be motivated by the satisfaction they get from having more happy customers. Someone else may be motivated by the quality of the product.

You must be able to tap into the motivators of different people and you do this by asking questions, giving good attention and empathising, which we’ll look at next…

9. Empathise 

To empathise is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Leading marketing guru Eben Pagan talks about this a lot in his leadership courses. He says that in order to communicate at the highest level you must really get into the other person’s position; walk a mile in their shoes. Most people are unwilling to do this for a subconscious ego fear of losing their own identity. By putting yourself in the other person’s shoes it does not mean that you have to take on their view as your own, you simply see how the other person ticks and what drives them.

Adopt the attitude of a detective. Ask yourself what the person’s fears are, what their values are, what their desires are. You can use factors such as family life, their strengths and skills, their hobbies, their personality traits to help inform you. Once you have an insight into these things, think about how they may go about their work, how might their day look like. This is a very powerful exercise that can make your team members mentally scream ‘this person really gets me!’ and be much more open to what you want to get across in your side of the communication.

Thanks for reading!

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