Are you a communication “Adaptor” or Velociraptor?

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Develop your six sense of communication with these tips from author and Forefront contributor Steve Rush

There can be no denying that the greatest leaders in business share many common ingredients, but there is one that is most visible and audible to us all. Great leaders are all exceptional communicators. They have the ability to convey a message, resonate and engage deeply with their audience consistently. Often our early communication is a learned behavior taught to us by people around us, such as parents and siblings, yet we have also learned how to communicate through our experiences at work, with co-workers, our boss and other leaders and role models.

All of the great leaders I have worked with almost appear to have a sixth sense when it comes to communicating. They are able to focus on what others may say and how they do things, and can interpret the received message almost instantaneously.

I call these individuals “Communication Adaptors.” They have the ability in the blink of an eye to adapt their style, pace or tone to vary the message based not on their message, but based on the person or group with whom they are communicating with. When I have worked with leaders who were communication adaptors, it was almost certain that they had less awkward or less confrontational experiences and dialogue. This was because they worked their communication skills with their recipient in mind.

By adopting this approach, the recipient will more likely respond positively and the leader’s personal message as it had been delivered more effectively. I have also worked with some really poor communicators. I call these guys, “Communication Velociraptors” – They are merely dinosaurs in the communication age, their style and impact is so poor, you could call it extinct! It’s not communicating – it’s merely broadcasting.

Here are my top tips to be an “adaptor” not a “raptor”:

Get on their agenda – There is an old saying, “give to receive.” The philosophy behind this phrase assumes that by communicating openly and giving a clear message of respect to the agenda of others, you will receive a more productive reaction in whatever you do.

Be crystal clear – Avoid ambiguity. It’s important to consider that this is not all about telling. This is about articulating, sharing and explaining with clarity: what, how, when and what outcome you may be expecting; this should be delivered with conviction and sincerity in an effective clear way.

Two Way or the Highway – Communication has to be two way, i.e., one person sending a message and the other responding, otherwise it’s not communicating, it’s cascading. I understand that busy people have to get the message out timely and efficiently. If you don’t get a response, how can you be sure you have actually communicated?

Keep it interactive – You must keep communication flowing in a variety of ways and ensure people are listening with a pert ear at all times. Make sure you adapt you approach so your message is most impactful and relevant to others.

Look and Listen – Great leaders have perfected the art of observing communication in the unspoken word, body language, idiosyncrasies and behaviors. Many communication models suggest that over half of what you communicate face to face is non verbal.

Check it out – How do you know if what you have attempted to communicate has been received in the exact way you intended? “Ask”. A big frustration shared by many leaders, is feeling like you haven’t got your message across. A faux pas is also not validating or taking the time to confirm that you have been heard.  It’s also provides a great source of future excuses as to why things didn’t get done.

So don’t be a raptor – be an adaptor. The more you adapt your communication and the more effective communicator you become; you may be surprised to meet less awkward people on your leadership journey!


Leadership-Cake-Author-Steve-RushSteve Rush is an author and leadership expert whose career spans global firms generating multimillion-pound revenues. He is the author of “Leadership Cake,” which combines his expertise and leadership lessons into a fresh perspective on leadership success. Live testing of “Leadership Cake” with leaders in both the U.K. and the U.S. inspired Rush to share the philosophy on the global stage. For more information, visit www.leadershipcake.com.

Profile photo of Steve Rush

Steve Rush

Steve Rush is an author and leadership expert whose career spans global firms generating multimillion-pound revenues. He is the author of “Leadership Cake,” which combines his expertise and leadership lessons into a fresh perspective on leadership success. Live testing of “Leadership Cake” with leaders in both the U.K. and the U.S. inspired Rush to share the philosophy on the global stage. For more information, visit www.leadershipcake.com.

Rush is also Chief Executive Officer of Improov Consulting, a leadership, management and training consultancy based in Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff, South Wales, U.K. It provides solutions tailored to ever-changing businesses and individual needs in the areas of learning and development; sales skills and buying models; sales leadership; relationship management; marketing; personal effectiveness and change management; communications skills; and financial services exam training. For more information, visit www.improovconsulting.com.
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