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In many ways, life is all about communicating. And nowhere is it more critical to be a strong communicator than in leading people and organizations.

The best business leaders have the ability to effectively explain business fundamentals, strategy, alternatives, challenges and action plans in ways that tap into their employees' sense of meaning.

Many people think they are communicating when they provide information in the form of memos, emails, reports and the like. But they're not. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.

As you can imagine, there is a world of difference between giving out facts, figures and other material and actually getting through to people.

I can't offer you one surefire method of communicating that is guaranteed to make your audience understand you completely every time you open your mouth. I can, however, describe nine vehicles that—when viewed correctly and used consistently—can help you get through more often. Here they are:
  1. Behavior. It's a cliché, but it's true. Actions really do speak louder than words.

  2. Relationships. The better the relationship, the better the communication.

  3. Emotions. Laughter, tears, nervousness, anger—such emotions add a human dimension to your words and make what you're saying all the more powerful.

  4. Values. When strong, consistent values are evident in your daily life, you enhance your credibility, which, in turn, improves your chances of being heard and understood.

  5. Words. Whether written or spoken, words obviously are an integral part of communication. But don't use them carelessly. Good communicators stay away from sloppy grammar, foul language, run-on sentences and muddled explanations.

  6. Listening. Communication isn't one-sided. Listening is one of the best ways you can truly connect with someone.

  7. Expressions. If your mouth is saying one thing and your face is saying something else, your audience will listen to your face, every time. If you want to get through, make sure your expressions match your words.

  8. Compassion. I've said it before and I'll say it again: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you want your communication to be effective, don't be afraid to show that you care.

  9. Change. I'm not talking about change in a general sense here. I'm talking about personal change. It might involve breaking a bad habit, adjusting an attitude, revising expectations or even learning a new skill. Whatever the case, changing something about yourself can often open the door to improved communication.
I've given you nine ways to get through. But the communication puzzle has one more very important piece: integration.

Let me explain. If you use four of the nine vehicles consistently, you'll be a much better communicator than if you only use two of them. If you use eight of the nine, you'll get through more often than if you only use five. In other words, the more of the nine ways you use when you communicate, the more effective you're going to be.

Do you want to get through to the people you lead? If you do, evaluate how well you're utilizing these nine vehicles and begin adding the missing elements, one by one.

Stop being an information provider and start communicating.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's
free monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired
available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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