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Eight Powerful Communication Behaviours for Influencing Others: Part 1

Or, a formula for ensuring effective leadership.

by Jennifer McCoy

If there was a quick formula for leadership, we would all sign up to it.

What we do know is that communication is the key to successful leadership. A formula?

We do know there are eight communication behaviours that, when used consciously and deliberately, will enable you to be far more influential. More effective as a leader.

A formula if you like. It does though require awareness and then practice.

When we communicate we use two different strategies: we use Push energy when we want another person to understand our ideas, thoughts and feelings; and we use Pull energy when we want to understand the ideas, thoughts and feelings of another person.

When we use Push energy we use these styles of behaviour: we Describe, we Prescribe, we Appreciate and we Inspire.

When we use Pull energy we use these styles of behaviour: we Attend, we Ask, we Understand, and we Empathise.

Mostly we are not conscious of which communication behavior we are using: often we don't know why we were successful; more worryingly we don't know why we were not effective.

The Behavior Minder™ model developed by Dr. I. Rubin, formerly of MIT in Boston, uses an online questionnaire to assess your skill in using those behaviours, including feedback from chosen others to see how they see your effectiveness in those eight behaviours.

Let me take the Push energy behaviours first. How do they work in practice?

We use Describe behaviours when we clearly explain the bases for our decisions, or provide people with information they might not normally have, or admit our mistakes.

When you use Describe behaviours appropriately, your staff won't need to say things like: "We never know why that decision was made" or "It would be nice if we knew why that idea hit a brick wall".

We use Prescribe behaviours to tell others clearly what we want from them, or to keep people's attention on issues you feel are important, or explain our decisions assertively, without becoming aggressive.

When you use Prescribe behaviours appropriately, your staff won't be tempted to complain: "I don't know what I'm expected to do about..." or "It's useless trying to put ideas up in meetings because (the boss) never listens to you".

We use Appreciate behaviours to express appreciation for what someone is doing or has done, or tell someone that we don't like what they are doing, or we gratefully accept feedback.

When you use Appreciate behaviours, your staff are more likely to feel valued. Staff invariably say they want more feedback and if you allow them to give you feedback, you create a win-win situation.

We use Inspire behaviours when we describe possibilities in ways that encourage others to share our enthusiasm, or when we stress the importance of pulling together to achieve common goals, or speak from the heart about our values.

When you use Inspire behaviours, people become motivated; they feel valued and want to work with you to achieve mutual goals.

To be most effective and influential we need to use all of these behaviours - when they are most appropriate.

In Part 2, I discuss the Pull behaviours and show their value for a leader.

If you'd like to assess your communication behaviours, ring Jennifer on 0425 726 340 and discuss how the Behavior Minder™ might assist.


Rubin, I. The ABCs of effective communication. Temenos.