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We live in a world that is progressively increasing in speed and the surge of technological advancement has increasingly created distance among the humans who utilize it. Despite the innovation and productivity that technology provides, we must continue to find ways of bridging the gap between people who at the end of the day are the most important in any working environment.
The greatest tool for preserving human relationships just happens to be communication. Communication is such a simple concept yet performs too many functions all at the same time. In the 21st century workplace, communication can be with peers, with managers, with executives or with direct reports.
Today, I want to share with you a little on communicating with Executives. An executive is a leader in an organization who has senior level management responsibilities.
Most of the rules which apply to basic effective communication like being empathic, concise and clear apply to communicating with executives but because of the formal distance, you might want to be a little more strategic about your communication with executives.
I mean what would you do if you suddenly found yourself face to face with Larry Page, the CEO of Google? Would you be prepared to have a conversation with him? Well, the chance of you meeting top-level management of your firm serendipitously might be rare but what if it is your job to give them a direct report or you get a chance to make a presentation?
Thinking with the executive in mind is critical for a successful communication strategy. It’s important for you to observe and identify the executive’s communication style because you have less opportunity to leave an impression unlike with your colleagues with whom you can course correct their impression of you.
In case you are not familiar with the executive in question, it will be wise for you to do your research before meeting him. One of the style models for quickly determining what somebody’s style is and knowing how to adjust to them is called DISC.
“D,” stands for ‘direct’ – someone whose impulse is to act quickly and make decisions based on logic. For this kind of executive, you want to be as brief as possible and straight to the point. If you are making a presentation to him, you want to show him in the most concise manner. You want to identify what the problems are, how you arrived at the solution and what is in it for the company.
“I,” stands for ‘inferential’ – someone whose impulse is to act quickly and make decisions based on emotions. With this kind of executives, you must establish a relationship with him and while making your presentation, create a vision with pictures and a little storytelling. You should appeal to his sense of empathy.
“S,” stands for ‘steady’ – someone whose impulse is to act slowly and make decisions on emotions. This type of executive doesn’t just up and make decisions based on adrenaline. You want to be very polite in your analysis. You should ask him open-ended questions that will give him room to talk and ask you questions as well. He may not give you a response immediately but your ability to really break things down will most likely secure for you, the feedback you desire.
Lastly, “C,” stands for ‘compliant’ – someone whose impulse is to act slowly and make decisions based on logic. This executive needs your presentation to be accurate, precise, thorough and full of data. You want to take him through your presentation step by step and you don’t want to influence him to make a decision. Just give him all the information required, he will usually ask for a few days to think things through.
Mostly, no one is perfectly suited to one style exclusively as people evolve based on their environment. Armed with these tools, you can be well guided in making the most out of your rare meetings with executives and leave a lasting impression.
Here are a few more keys that will help you to be persuasive and ready for an unplanned meeting anytime.
1. You need credibility and credibility comes from your expertise and relationships. One cannot do without the other. Remember words fly quickly in any human establishment so you want to be incredibly good at what you do and build healthy relationships with the people you work with.
2. You must master how to frame your discussions. Leaders tend to hijack conversations and really you cannot control what they say or do but you can guide the discussion to serve your end.
3. Use product or process knowledge to frame the benefits of your position or suggestion. Sound like you know what you’re saying.
4. Don’t tell them what they already know. This can be boring don’t you agree?
5. Don’t forget your corporate structure. Every organization has rules of operation and you want to remain within the bounds of your company structure.
6. Build an emotional connection that shows that you feel what you’re trying to get them to feel too. This is very important and lastly,
7. Practice. The art of great communication is one that requires practice and you should not be tired of building this skill.
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