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How NOT to Communicate as a Leader

how not to communicate as a leader

As the leader of a team, it's up to you to set the tone for communication. No matter how well your employees communicate with each other, you'll be harming the overall success of your company if you aren't able to communicate clearly and concisely yourself.

Though you probably know some of the aspects of good communications -- such as listening and soliciting feedback -- it sometimes helps to take a look at bad communication habits to ensure you don't have them. Here are some of the ways not to communicate as a leader.

Don't Ramble

We've all experienced the frustration of talking with someone who just can't stay on track. When it comes to leadership, rambling is a big no-no. Whether you are straying off-topic during one-on-ones or you're digressing in meetings, this bad habit wastes everyone's time and hurts your credibility. Being clear and concise in your communication maximizes the time you spend with your employees and gives them a clear path for what you expect of them.

Don't be Vague

Rambling and being vague usually go hand-in-hand. Vagueness can come from a desire not to hurt someone's feeling -- especially while giving constructive criticism -- or it can be a sign that you don't have your thoughts in order. Vagueness can lead to confusion and chaos in your office, especially if your team doesn't feel comfortable enough to ask for clarification. Always be clear in your communication and avoid sounding wishy-washy or uncertain.

Don't be Unprepared

Do you ever go into a meeting or one-on-one without any idea what you're going to talk about? Thinking that a path will magically unfold as you talk is a big mistake. When you aren't prepared and don't have a clear goal for a conversation, communication will almost certainly go off track. There's no reason to have a meeting if you're not prepared for it and know what you hope to accomplish. Take the time beforehand to gather your thoughts and any data or information you need and write down specific goals to ensure you are fully prepared.

Don't Forget to Check for Understanding

You might think your team will ask questions if they don't understand what you're saying or if they need further details. However, due to different personality types, how comfortable they feel around you, and number of other possible reasons, they may not. That's why it's important to always check for understanding. It's not enough to simply ask, "Do you understand?" because most people will say "yes" believing they DO understand, even if their understanding is not quite on the mark with what you were trying to convey. Instead, questions like, "What is your understanding of this project and what needs to happen next?" or "Tell me where you'd like to start with this and how I can help," can open the doors to better communication and ensure your message has been correctly received.

Though 'good communication' is on every leader's checklist, knowing what that entails is another matter altogether. When you're aware of bad communication habits, you can make sure you avoid them and develop more effective ones that strengthen your team.

Trish Cody is an Executive Awareness Coach and Speaker who focuses on optimizing results for business leaders. With over 20 years of experiences as a strategic consultant for some of the world's top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Practitioner, Trish works with senior level leaders and business owners to raise their levels of self-awareness and create more trust, loyalty and success in their businesses and teams. Contact Trish at

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