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Revolutionize Your Team’s Communication With These Simple Skills

This article was based on episode 214 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of The Modern Manager can get a free audiobook version of Richard’s book You Were Born to Speak. Become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.


Communication is how we build relationships. The tricky thing is it’s not just about what we say or how we say it. It’s also about how we respond to others. What nonverbal cues do we pick up and react to? Richard Newman learned the power of nonverbal communication when he showed up at a Tibetan monastery at age 18 to teach English to monks. While neither side knew the other’s language, through body language and building nonverbal rapport they each slowly learned how to communicate and connect.


Richard has brought his knowledge of the power of communication into the workplace. He is the Founder of Body Talk. Over the past 22 years, his team has trained over 120,000 business leaders around the world to improve their communication and impact.


Here, Richard teaches us simple techniques to showing up as our best virtual selves, how to beat Zoom Fatigue through storytelling, and why the best thing we can do to build our team’s confidence is believing in them.


MATCH THE MESSAGE WITH THE MODE


Text messages and emails are great for straightforward information, but often we assume an idea speaks for itself when it really doesn’t. If there’s any emotion or nuance involved, make sure to use a communication mode that conveys more than a monotone reading. An audio message or phone call enables us to use tone of voice. A video message or meeting takes it a step further to include body language. It’s those added layers of communication that have the real impact. Richard encourages us to think about how you want the other person to feel. What do you want them to do or say after you share? Consider the direction and intention of your message and then use all your communication tools (tone of voice, body language, energy), not just the words alone, to create that feeling.


TALK WITH YOUR HANDS


Remember that your body language isn’t for you; it’s a way to help others understand you better. We use our hands to show when we’re energized and to emphasize points. This provides important context for those we’re speaking to.


When you’re setting up your Zoom screen, make sure your hands are visible. Hand gestures are an underrated aspect to communication. So don’t crop your screen at your shoulders. While video conferencing isn’t ideal for so many reasons, it does give us access to closer facial expressions than we might get in a boardroom. Use those facial muscles to your advantage!


THINK LIKE A STORYTELLER


Everyone’s talking about Screen Fatigue, but maybe the problem isn’t really about screens. After all, how many of us spend hours after work catching up on our favorite Netflix shows or scrolling on TikTok? The real culprit, Richard believes, is “death by Powerpoint.” Our survival brain thinks that the monotonous information being presented isn’t relevant to our lives and responds by disengaging.


What Netflix has going for it is characters and a storyline. Our brains get caught up in the drama. Consider incorporating storytelling into your work communications to keep your team alert and involved. Richard recommends starting every meeting with the context for why you’re there. Then, ask your team about the challenges they’re facing that you can work together to solve. Now the emotional, survival part of their brain is deeply engaged. It feels heard and activated to overcome its challenges.


HELP YOUR TEAM STRETCH THEIR COMMUNICATION SKILLS


Other than the usual seminars on public speaking, one of the best things you can do to help a team member develop her communication skills is to believe in her potential. Often our mindset about our abilities is what holds us back the most. We’ve all had that pivotal teacher or mentor who saw something in us we didn’t yet see. Trust that each of your team members can be an effective communicator. Talk with them about how they might grow in their skills or confidence. Gradually build them up through opportunities for practice and positive affirmations of themselves as great communicators.


Human beings are unique in their extraordinary ability to use complex verbal and nonverbal communication. As the tools for communication continue to evolve, it’s important we communicate using the optimal format to get the right message across. And, let’s not forget the basics, like using our hands as part of the communication. Let’s learn from the best communicators and storytellers and help our colleagues live up to their potential. Because each person’s voice matters.


KEEP UP WITH RICHARD


Members of The Modern Manager can get a free audiobook version of Richard’s book You Were Born to Speak. Become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.


This article was based on episode 214 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

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