Great leaders are great communicators. Communication certainly includes making a great speech, or for pastors, delivering a compelling sermon. That kind of communication is important, but it’s less so than communicating well one-on-one. I recently finished reading neuroscientist Andrew Newberg’s book, Words Can Change Your Brain. His book suggests 12 key neuroscience based communication practices. I’ve included nine here with some brief comments.
Nine ways great leaders communicate:
1. They convey a relaxed demeanor.
They’re not tense or frazzled. People pick up on our emotional tone, whether it’s good or bad. It’s called emotional contagion. So when we’re relaxed, it encourages the other person to relax as well.
2. They stay fully present for the person they’re talking to.
They’re not in a rush to move on to something or someone else. They don’t look over the other person’s shoulder. Rather, they make genuine eye contact. Eye contact stimulates the social networks of our brains, decreases the stress hormone cortisol, and increases the neurotransmitter oxytocin which has been called the trust chemical, all of which enhance communication.
3. They practice inner stillness and quietness.
This reflects the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God.
4. They pay attention to nonverbal cues in the face and body of the person with whom they’re talking.
Our words seldom fully convey what we really think and feel. However, our eyes, face and tone communicate much of what we do think and feel. If we don’t pay attention to the nonverbal, communication will suffer.
5. They express appreciation and gratitude.
People yearn to hear encouragement from their leaders. Authentic praise for a job well done makes huge deposits in the souls of those around us. And when we give a compliment at the end of a conversation, it’s actually received better than one given at the beginning of a conversation.
6. They speak with a warm tone.
A warm tone can set the stage for effective communication, whereas a harsh or negative tone can set up resistance in the other person.
7. They speak slowly.
When we speak slowly, those listening can comprehend us better and it can help calm an anxious person.
8. They speak briefly.
They don’t hog the conversation with their words. Since our brain can only hold so much information at once in our working memory, speaking for shorter lengths of time improves communication by helping the listener retain more of what we say.
9. They listen deeply.
To listen deeply means that we don’t let our minds wander but that we give our full attention to the other person speaking.
Try some of these practices the next time you talk to someone and see what difference it can make.
What would you add to this list?