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10 methods to communicate better as a manager

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."  Albert Einstein

I think Einstein may very well be right on attitude. When you have to manage direct reports, and even more when you lead managers, your soft skills often become a limiting factor for what you and your teams can accomplish. That's why this post lists a few methods that have helped me build better relationships with my colleagues. I feel that can help anyone express more of their potential and trigger change in their organization.

The Description, Emotion, Solution, Consequences (DESC) Method for Conflict Resolution

DESC is a very efficient method to handle conflictual discussions, in one on ones. It goes as follows:
  1. Describe the provable facts, and only the facts. Nobody can deny pure facts.
  2. Share how these facts made you feel: your Emotions. Stick to the emotions. Nobody can deny your emotions.
  3. Propose a Solution: the action you expect from the other party.
  4. Describe the positive Consequences of the proposed solutions.
Let me describe an example, to make things more concrete:
  1. FACTS
    • I have worked for 10 hours on the brand perception deck.
    • You have presented a version of this deck that did not bear any mention of my name.
    • Was it intentional?
  2. EMOTIONS
    • Even if it was not intentional, I feel very uncomfortable with this. I feel it unfair and demotivating.
  3. SOLUTION
    • In the future, I would like you to keep my name on the material you reuse from me.
  4. CONSEQUENCES
    • Can we agree to proceed that way? This will permit us to continue working together in a productive and efficient atmosphere.
Conflict resolution discussions are hard. But as a consequence of sharing your emotions you will build proximity and maintain productive relationships with colleagues. It is an excellent method.


The LEFS Method to Receive Complaints

  1. Listen attentively.
  2. Paraphrase the Emotion expressed and the Facts mentioned.
  3. Say that you are Sorry.
Saying that you are sorry, does not mean that you are guilty. It means that you empathize and are sorry that a colleague got put in a difficult situation, whatever your role in the process.


How to Make a Request and Get it Accepted

If you have ever worked in sales, and used the Trust, Try, Buy approach, you have experienced that awkward moment when you have to ask a customer if they want to convert a trial into a purchase, and start to pay for it. How to make this request is a key skill for account managers and sales professionals. Let's see how to make a request to a decision maker:
  • First and foremost, you need to actually make the request: the ask must be explicitly presented. 
  • The request must be positive, highlighting the benefits for the decision maker and her organization.
  • The request should diplomatically involve time pressure do avoid ending in the pile of things to be done. Therefore, the call to action should have an associated deadline.
  • Finally, you must make it simple to agree: remove any hurdle for the decision maker and have everything ready. No road blockers!

Two Essential Ways to be More Convincing

There are two more things that I would like to share with you:
  1. If you want to convince an audience, you should play on the three dimensions of communication: 
    1. Ethos: appeal to ethical values), 
    2. Logos: facts and rational arguments, and
    3. Pathos: appeal to emotions.
  2. Remember the power of stories: 
    • add specific examples and personal stories, 
    • use allegories and metaphors, 
    • add figures and visual images to your communication.

The Small Talk Approach

I find it hard to approach strangers and engage a meaningful conversation. But a method helps me a lot. It's based on 5 simple steps:
  1. Introduce yourself: "Hi, I am Gilles. ". 
  2. Break the ice with a few contextual comments. 
    • Just be yourself. You can ask a question that builds a link with the individual you are addressing. For instance for a night skating event: "It's my first time here, I must say I feel a bit anxious about the level of the participants. They seem very fit and have amazing gear! Do you often participate do that kind of event?".
  3. Go to more depth with questions on the person facing you to allow them to talk about themselves. Developing my skating example: "Do you do other sports too?".
  4. Introduce other topics of discussion as required to keep the talking smooth. At this stage, the conversion should feel pretty natural to both participants.
  5. Encourage the person to speak by showing genuine interest.
Dale Carnegie's book about how to make friends and influence people is a great tool if you want to learn how to get liked by strangers.
     

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