Effective communication is critical in all aspects of your creative, professional and personal lives:
- for creating powerful connections with your colleagues, friends and loved ones;
- for teaching;
- for getting your points across and being understood;
- for interacting with audiences, donors and supporters; and
- for heading off conflict.
As a savvy music entrepreneur or arts leader, communication is an essential skill in today’s world. So here are 5 skills that can help you become a better communicator: LOCAV. It’s easy to remember since it is an anagram for VOCAL!
When you think of communication, you may be inclined to think about what you are saying. However, the top communication skill is actually listening!
Listening is a process that involves paying attention to detail, being open-minded to what you are hearing and patiently taking in the information from the speaker so that you can formulate the appropriate response without allowing your own agenda to clutter up your impressions.
It means that you are aware of both what the person is saying-the words-as well as how the person is saying them by observing her tone of voice, the speed with which she talks and the volume of her voice.
There are 3 levels of listening:
- subjective listening, where you tune out the other person and are solely focused on your agenda;
- objective listening, where you are completely focused on the other person and creating effective rapport; and
- intuitive listening, where you read between the lines for what is not being said and understand the other person’s true agenda so as to create a deep connection with that person.
Learn more about the 3 levels of listening so that you can become the type of listener who creates rapport and deeper connections to the people in your life.
2. Open-Ended Questions
Over the course of a week, think of all the situations where you ask questions:
- To gather information
- To get to know someone else better in a networking or in an interpersonal situation
- To solve problems and clear up potential conflicts with collaborators or colleagues
Asking powerful questions is the key to effective communication because it maximizes the learning process through an exchange of relevant information. The most effective way to do this is through open-ended questions-questions that are not susceptible of a yes or not answer-because they engage others in meaningful dialogue that encourages in-depth answers from others, as well as explore perceptions, challenge assumptions, consider possibilities and consequences and lead to solutions and action steps.
Learn how to formulate and ask powerful open-ended questions so that you can improve your information-gathering, personal and professional connections and problem-solving and conflict management!
3 & 4. Clarification and Acknowledgement
The next two parts of LOCAV-Clarification and Acknowledgement–come into play when you are engaged in delicate conversations where emotions are on the line. These two skills can help you build emotional intelligence because they are at the heart of relationship management: the ability to create successful bonds with others so that you can effectively communicate, handle challenging situations, diffuse conflict and influence others to follow you.
Here is how they work:
Acknowledgement is where you paraphrase what you have just heard so that your collaborator knows that you are paying attention.
Clarification is where you clear up any confusion that may arise from what she has said to make sure that you understand exactly what the person has said.
Validation is an essential communication and relationship skill since it is one of the best ways to avoid conflict. Validation is another great way to build EQ. It looks like this:
Suppose you and your partner (be it a business or a romantic partner) are talking about a sensitive issue. The two of you do not necessarily agree. Yet, rather than fan the flames, you can open the other person up to further discussion by saying,
“From where you sit, no wonder you feel upset. Allow me explain how I see the situation.”
When you validate another person’s views, you recognize the legitimacy of that person’s feelings and let her know that she has a right to feel that way. It is not a judgment on whether you agree or whether someone is right or wrong; rather, it shows that you understand that person’s situation. This, in turn, will open up the other party to consider your point of view.
1. Practice listening objectively. Then, deepen your listening skills to listen intuitively. Avoid subjective listening!
2. Select 5 new open-ended questions and practice them this week. Next week, pick 5 more. Keep practicing until these questions become second-nature!
3. When you are engaged in a dialogue, remember to acknowledge what you are hearing from the speaker and then clarify her words to make sure that you understand exactly what she is saying.
4. The next time you find yourself in a tricky conversation where you do not agree with your interlocutor, be sure to validate his feelings and his position.