Communication has so many different facetts. I often marvel when I see research about verbal communication versus non-verbal. A researcher by the name of Mehrabian was early out by claiming that words have a very minor part in communication, only less than 10%.

As leaders it’s so important that we are aware of what and how we communicate both verbally and non-verbally. For some reason many people live under the myth that verbal, spoken or written communication is what counts. It may very well be so when it comes to our disciplinary structures in the work place. We are all aware of the praxis when it comes to verbal and written warnings. The importance of clearly communicating with words. However, what we say non-verbally tend to have greater impact. We want to avoid getting to the place where we have to document words in order for it to stand up in processes where conflict is part of the equation.

I have noticed that leaders who are intentional about their communication both verbally and non-verbally have great success when it comes to avoiding conflict. In fact, when I see a work place where it is very common with verbal and written warning, it is more often related to bad leadership.

It is because people can read your thoughts that you have to be extra aware of your non-verbal communication.

I once had an employee who put me to the test big time. I could not stand the woman! She was everything that I am not! Our personalities clashed. The way we were doing things clashed. And…she was exactly what the organization needed. Her competence was pivotal for the success of working with some of the clients and projects we were involved in.

It took a lot of energy for me as a leader to be a good leader. Sometimes she said and did things that rubbed me the wrong way. Oh, I was so tempted to talk behind her back, build alliances with others who also found her annoying. Avoiding her was also easy to do. This woman made me more aware of how I communicate than any other person.

Thanks to my mentor I did not fall into the trap of ostracizing this woman. Instead I made an extra effort in my communication. It is actually very good for us as leaders to have someone like that on our team. It sharpens our skills and makes us realize that leadership is about trying to treat everyone on the team with equal respect and empathy.

I will be forever grateful to this woman who honed my skills in being aware of that she can read my thoughts. And therefore, I need to control what I think. I am also grateful to my mentor who made me go through this learning process.

“A good leader can control how he/she thinks about others!”

Those words from my mentor is ringing in my head. Why? Because all people that you lead have the right to fair and equal treatment no matter what you feel.

Have a brilliant day!

Ulf Lidman

People can read your thoughts!