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40+ Years of Management Experience Summed Up In 10 Thoughts, Part 7

Whether you've been in management for 20 years, or you're new to the idea of leading people, these 10 steps to mighty management that we've been reviewing together may be a help to ensuring your success. You can read about the first six steps beginning here.

Thought #7: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I once knew a man who was a missionary to Hong Kong, but has since passed. He said something that impacted my life. His words were,

“It doesn’t matter what I say. It matters what you hear.”

Ponder that.

We live in a world with many different types of people that come from unique backgrounds, and who filter things differently based upon their experience, culture, learning style, etc. So why would we expect that because we THINK we’ve communicated our thoughts and ideas clearly, everyone else should understand them? Effective communication can completely change the dynamics of any organization.

Most of us consider communication to be primarily words that we speak but fail to recognize that what comes from our lips only makes up about 7% of what people “hear”. Rather, it’s our tone and physiology that are the heavy hitters. Our tone translates about 38% of what others receive from us, and body language about 55%. So while you’re pondering why Susie in the next cubicle so often seems cold towards you, consider that you may have had a harsh tone in your last conversation, or possibly kept your arms crossed while speaking, sending a signal that you’re closed off (when maybe you were just chilly).

The best way that I know to start overcoming the communication barrier is to ask questions. Open-ended questions are best, prompting our colleagues to share what’s on their mind, what they honestly think about our latest proposal, or how they feel about working in the environment we’re creating. Sometimes a simple statement like, “Tell me more,” or, “What’s your story?” can open up a dialogue (and a relationship) that you never imagined existed just under the surface.

The reality is, if we would improve our communication, we would reduce stress, save time, and trust others more. What a great payoff for our investment!

TAKE ACTION: If you haven’t taken any training, or at least read some good material on effective communication, that may be a smart place to start. Try to become aware for a full day (or even start with a full hour!) of your tone and the way in which you communicate your words. Once you tune in, you may hear yourself differently and begin to recognize doubt, anger, or even fear in your tone that’s setting your team on edge. Also, study up on body language to begin to consider what your natural habits may be communicating to the people around you. If you’re not convinced of the power of body language, take 20 minutes to check out this Ted Talk featuring Dr. Amy Cuddy as she describes the power that we have with others and with ourselves. And as you learn more, don’t forget to look for signs in your team that they may be conveying with their physiology. It’s a two-way street!

Kirsten Smith, founder of Made to Thrive Consulting has over 20 years Business Development and Management experience with small and large organizations alike, including those listed among the Fortune 500.

For information on training courses that can help your organization reach the next level, visit or contact Kirsten Smith at

© 2017 Made to Thrive Consulting, LLC. All right reserved


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