Good communicators know how to express a vision that fires the imagination and stirs people to act. Communicators who use story-telling techniques engage an audience’s emotions and take them out of an analytical frame of mind.
Storytelling makes facts more appealing and places them into a context. Those learning to build an executive presence should know at least the following storytelling types:
Case studies: Written or told in a narrative, these can be brief or highly detailed and they cover a multitude of topics that help explain how a business made good decisions and accomplished an objective or even discuss the mistakes it made that caused it to fail.
Success stories: Always with a happy ending, these stories show how ordinary people have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve a goal, and they inspire and mobilize the audience to apply the same principles in the story to their own situation.
Rumors: One of the most damaging type of stories, rumors are stories that are woven from partial threads of truth, allowing personal fears and biases to fill the voids. Effective executives know to respond to negative rumors immediately to control their spread and tell their side of the story.
Good storytellers use techniques that help them convey complex ideas easily and persuasively. They pick a theme for the story that helps cement the point they want to make. They keep the story brief and employ the power of understatement to deliver the message. They use rhetorical techniques, such as metaphor, analogy, and personification, to make the content compelling, memorable, and personal. Effective business leaders use the power of storytelling to strengthen their executive presence and help propel their organizations to new opportunities.
There are few skills more critical for executives than the ability to influence others to change their attitudes and behaviors. Manipulation is not an effective technique, because it leads eventually to disloyalty and distrust. The fundamental factor for persuading others is trust. Effective executives understand the difference between influence based on manipulation and influence based on persuasion.
Influencing attitudes and behavior is at the core of a manager’s role. To persuade others in an ethical manner, effective leaders use these principles:
In a business environment, conflict occurs when one person does not receive the expected or desired response or behavior from another person. Conflict can be caused when the parties involved have differing worldviews. They might have different priorities or sets of needs. Differences in how people perceive and filter information cause conflict. People sometimes cause conflict if they try to manipulate others. Conflict can stem from differences in values, principles, feelings, or emotions.
The way that executives resolve conflict contributes to others’ perception about them and builds their executive presence. To prepare for conflict resolution, executives provide a means of prevention, such as an employee grievance processes or counseling. After a conflict has ignited, firm company policies concerning culturally acceptable behavior help create an optimal environment for resolution when conflict occurs.
Effective managers know whatever causes conflict is less important than the means with which it is resolved and its consequences. When resolving conflict effective leaders listen actively and separate each of the positions from the issues, while understanding and validating the positions of each side. They empathize with all parties, but also stress clear boundaries and define expectations for behavior. They are tactful as they explore the issues and alternatives. They often speak in the first person and find positive things to say about others. They attack the issues, not the person. To heal a broken or strained relationship, they let go of emotions and allow time for feelings to heal.
Executives are respected when they demonstrate confidence and professional poise during a difficult conversation. In difficult conversations, there are really three levels: (1) the discussion of what happened, (2) the usually hidden emotional responses of each party, and (3) the challenge to the self-image of one of the parties.
Effective leaders make sure they are clear about the issues and gather all the facts. They do not procrastinate. During the conversation, effective leaders stay aware of each level of the conversation, which enables them to communication in ways that do not cloud the issues or trigger extreme emotion.
Effective conflict-resolvers establish both directness and sensitivity as soon as possible in the discussion, which encourages the recipient to stay open and helps the message get through. When negativity of emotional outbursts occur in the conversation, they stay calm, let the other person’s emotions run their course, recognize and empathize with the emotions of the other person, let the person have their say, then return to the discussion.
Effective conversationalists do not lecture; they ask open-ended questions to encourage the other party to tell their side of the story. They are aware of the messages they convey with nonverbal communications and body language, maintaining good eye contact. They often repeat back what the other person says to paraphrase and show they are carefully listening.
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