The art of communicating intelligently is integral in any capacity, be it leadership, coaching, parenting, or teaching.
When our communication intelligence increases, we are in a better position to exchange ideas and information.
What is communication intelligence?
Have you heard of emotional intelligence?
According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”
Communication intelligence is your capability to communicate effectively and diplomatically with others while considering their current state, their choice of words, and their intentions.
Now, this article will focus on one-on-one communication, rather than speaking to a group/audience.
During my Executive Coaching, Life Coaching, and Youth Mentoring career, the one invaluable lesson learnt was this – most people will respond according to the way you communicate with them. In other words, your communication patterns will impact their responses/reactions.
Here are 5 keys to Communication Intelligence:
- Curiosity – there is an old adage, “If you want to get to know others, get curious”. It is human nature – (most) people like to talk about themselves. If you are genuinely curious, you will be in a better position to communicate intelligently with others. Curiosity opens the door to the other person’s world. The better you know them, the better you can tailor your communication techniques for them. As a coach/mentor, I would ask questions and just listen quietly during the first half of the very first coaching/mentoring session. Getting to know the person better afforded me a two-step approach – first, understand them, and then, support them.
- Recognition – if a person stops conversing, or is uncomfortable at some point of the conversation, you must be able to recognise that there is something of concern. Let’s be clear – this is not insinuating that you need a degree in Psychology or Counselling in order to do this. Simple people skills will do the job. Ask the person simple questions like “What is on your mind right now?” ie. what are you thinking right now? Or, “What are your emotions telling you now?” ie. how are you feeling now? These questions can lead to recognising their concern. While you may not be required to support the person in overcoming their concern, you will be in a better position to tailor your communication according to what they are thinking/feeling.
- Creative space – this is where the other party is afforded the time and space to think construct, and align their words. Silence is golden indeed when it comes to giving the person an opportunity to process the moment, and to respond accordingly. I have communicated with so many people who cannot stop talking. They do not provide that creative space to the other party. I used to be one of them! In my coaching/mentoring career, I learnt a technique that really helped. Here it is – when you feel/think that other party needs space, hold something (eg. a pen) in your hand, and remain silent. Once you know that it is time for you to speak, drop the pen. The pen in your hand is your cue to remain silent.
- Word selection – different words can mean different things to others. Tailor your words to make the other party comfortable. For example, a manager calling their subordinate for a “Performance Review” could be a bit daunting for the subordinate. If the manager used “Future Planning”, that could put the subordinate at ease. Words have the power to change people’s outlook. In your conversation, choose your words very wisely. Your words can decide the response from the other person. There is a quote from Joseph Telushkin –“Most people choose their clothes more carefully than they choose their words.”
- Context – where and when to say it are as important as how to say it. Speak in context, not out of it. Put things in perspective. For example, if you are speaking to your child about something they did today, keep it in today’s context. Refrain from bringing up something he/she did a month ago. When you keep things in context, the ability for the other party to process what is being said is made easier. Comprehend, not complicate should be your goal for the other party.
Quote: “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Tony Robbins
I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can utilise communication intelligence in making a positive impact in the lives of others.
Influencing you to your excellence,