“Don’t kill the messenger. Receive the message.” – Michael Brown
I worked for a manager who was erratic. We never knew how he was going to react to news – sometimes he would ask questions, other times he would explode. No one wanted to give him bad news in case he was in an incendiary state.
Here are ways to ensure you don’t kill the messenger:
- Breathe – Take a breath before you react. Take a moment to think about the message and remember not to kill the messenger.
- Monitor your body language – Closed arms, rolling eyes, and red face are not signs that you want to hear the message. Remember that over half of your message is conveyed through your body language. Be neutral so that the messenger can deliver the message without fear.
- Listen – Listen to everything the person is saying. Don’t start thinking of counter examples, or your next steps. Hear the entire message before responding.
- Show you are listening – Ask questions, repeat what they’ve said to ensure understanding, and nod. These all show you are listening to what they are saying to you.
- Focus on the person – Put away distractions like the phone and computer. Look at the person as they are speaking to you to show you are listening.
- End with action or summary – At the end of the discussion, make sure you summarize the actions and what you heard.
It is never easy to deliver a potentially bad message. Become the kind of leader that people are comfortable talking with – don’t shoot the messenger!
Want to “up” your communication abilities. I coach leaders and teams on improving their communication skills. Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com