Hi, Lona here with Revela. Today I’m going to share some tips with you about how to improve your interpersonal skills: things such as communication and listening skills. Oftentimes the groups I am working with are setting goals related to skills that are a little bit harder to measure; or behaviors that are harder to measure. Things like communication, speaking more clearly, speaking in front of other people, standing up for your ideas, being more assertive, or maybe being less assertive and listening to others. Oftentimes the one I hear most frequently is, “I want to improve my listening skills.”
Now, people believe that these are important skills, and they really want to work on them. And they’re really motivated to work on them; but what we find happens over time is that people tend to go back and revert to their old habits. There’s a quote in the book called H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick that states “nearly half of your day will be determined by the patterns that you intentionally create or passively allow.” So, we can be more intentional with the behaviors and habit that we are creating or we can just continue down those same paths, making the same mistakes over and over again, maybe not being as effective with our team members and the people that report to us.
I’m going to give you three strategies that you can use today to help improve on those interpersonal skills or behaviors that you really want to create, or maybe behaviors that you want to eliminate, that again are harder to measure. Harder to measure than things like sales goals, which are numbers driven. Numbers are a little easier to set goals for because they’re easier to track; they’re more specific. The goals that we are talking about here are more general and a little bit more difficult to describe and actually see whether or not we’re making progress on those goals.
So, step one: seek out somebody that you respect and trust that you believe will have some honest and candid conversations with you. Somebody that you can go to and ask them, “Are there any areas that I could improve?” You may personally be aware of certain aspects of your communication style or interpersonal skills or behaviors that you need to improve. Or maybe behaviors that you need to eliminate. But, it is really important to also seek out things that you may not be aware of. What are your blind spots? What are those areas that you are not as aware of that you are doing, or not doing that is getting in the way of you being as successful as possible?
As you seek out those people, also enlist those individuals to help support you as you’re working on those goals; not just in the beginning to help you identify those goals but also as you are working on and practicing those behaviors to give you additional feedback to improve.
The second step: begin journaling. There’s a minimum of three questions that I want you to ask yourself every day. 1.) What were some things that you did really well today? 2.) What are some areas that you could improve and do better? 3.) How much effort did you put into working on these goals or behaviors that you want to work on?
As you begin to ask those questions on a daily basis, you’re building your awareness about those skills and behaviors. And as you build your awareness, you’re more conscious of the behaviors, and you will, over time, begin to be more aware of those interpersonal skills like listening and communication that you want to improve on. And you kind of become your own coach as you go through this process.
The third strategy: create triggers throughout your day that prompt you to practice the behaviors or skills that you want to work on. Let’s say for instance we use as an example that you want to get more input from your team members. So at the beginning of a meeting, before the meeting even starts, write a note to yourself at the top of your notebook that you’re using, or maybe at the top of the agenda if you’re passing out an agenda for the meeting. But something that reminds you to ask questions. Ask open-ended questions that prompt you to gain more input or gather more information from your team. Another option would be to set a reminder on your calendar or on your phone that prompts you to work on or practice the skill that you want to change.
So the behaviors and the skills that we are talking about today are not the easier things to change. We know that. We are creatures of habit, as we talked about earlier. However, they are some of the most important behaviors and skills that impact your ability to be successful as a leader.
So what are you going to do? Rely on old habits that you’ve passively allowed, or create intentional ones that lead to your success?