Conversation Skills in Leadership

texting

Image by suzi54241 via Flickr

Are conversation skills in leadership declining? Communication, particularly, conversation has changed a great deal over time. While face-to-face and handwritten communication may have been the bread and butter of earlier generations, today is guided through e-mail, text, and other electronic formats. Generation Y joins the workforce with more electronic than face-to-face or fully written text. So how can leaders help?

Mary Ann Allison, an assistant professor of media studies at Hofstra University, has her students keep a log of their own communication habits.

“By paying attention to it, they say, `Wow, it’s a really different conversation when you’re talking with someone and listening to them,” Allison says. They key in on body language, facial expressions and tone of voice – all cues that you lose when you can’t see or hear someone, or when you’re distracted, even in person, by a gadget.

Sternberg, at Fordham, asks her students to give up one form of electronic communication to see what kind of difference it makes in their lives.

She also has them practice simple tasks such as standing up in a room full of people and introducing themselves. Many of them hate the drill, she says, but later tell her how useful it was, especially in the workplace.

Interestingly, Anna’s mom, Joanna Schiferl, is more worried about the effect that texting is having on her daughter’s writing skills than her social skills. Anna tends to rush her writing and pays less attention to grammar, or uses abbreviations she’d use in a text. It is a common observation among parents….More at Text Messaging: Is Texting Ruining The Art Of Conversation?

Schiferi is correct – the effect on writing skills may be the biggest concern. Prime example is a young man I worked with that wanted to move into a leadership role. He had the knowledge, the passion, and the vision needed to lead. Unfortunately he couldn’t get past the abbreviated texting and tweeting format and informality for his  communications, written or verbal. He lacked the art of business conversation as he spent the majority of his time texting and tweeting.

Comunication – effective communication is key to leaderships role in conveying the vision and knowledge  to inspire and mentor others. A key in this is conversation skills in leadership.

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