AmyK Hutchens knows a thing or two about communication. International award-winning speaker, Amazon best-selling author and founder of the global community, shegetsit.com, AmyK has over 20 years of consulting and training experience with companies of all sizes.
In a recent Vistage webinar, AmyK highlighted just how powerful words can be. “Screenwriters know there are only two ways to define your hero on-screen: through the words that they say, and through the actions that they take”, she began. “It’s no different for us, in real life, off-screen. What this fundamentally means for us is that our lives are happening one conversation at a time. Leadership is happening one conversation at a time”.
Good conversation, therefore, is vital. Honing your communication skills can make you a better problem-solver, collaborator, decision-maker and leader. Here are a few highlights from AmyK’s presentation to make this happen.
The 4 Tenets of Master Communicators
If you are looking to master your communication skills, there are four tenets that AmyK is certain that abiding by will help. The first of the four is:
Life happens one conversation at a time
These conversations are professional, they’re personal, and they’re also those individual conversations with yourself at three o’clock in the morning.
“When we elevate the conversation, we elevate the outcome”, says AmyK.
Good communication can have a whole host of benefits. If you find communication to be a challenge, her tools can help.
Communicating to connect
Communicating to connect is all about empathy.
It is likely that you are already aware of the concept of emotional intelligence. AmyK describes this as “your ability to recognise and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behaviours and relationships”. EQ, she stresses, is critical to your success, representing 58% of your performance across all types of jobs.
This has been even more important over the last couple of years as a result of COVID-19, says AmyK. “It’s been a time with an extraordinarily wide range of emotions”, she says. “Excitement and engagement, worries about the future, crazy busy times, mild depression, the stress of trying to juggle homeschooling and work, the feeling of being alone and isolated. Remember that your colleagues, board members and clients are all human beings who have had difficult times to contend with.”
To demonstrate this empathic intelligence, AmyK recommends using the 3 Cs of every profitable team and partnership. “These start with communication”, she says. “Empathetic communication - listening to understand - is vital. You can only do that through connection - the second C.”
The third C is collaboration
Increased buy-in and engagement. This comes from an increase in connection, and will improve performance, productivity and, ultimately, profitability.
The practical side of the 3Cs involves using what AmyK terms Magical phrases. “These are one-liners that course-correct, put guardrails around a conversation, change the tone to get more buy-in, and establish a greater connection so we can improve collaboration”, she elaborates.
AmyK uses a number of magical phrases with her clients, and shared 11 in this webinar. Here are three we suggest as a great starting point. You can learn about the others on this webinar.
- Would you be willing…? This is about making people feel more in control. It allows the other person to say, “yes, I’m agreeing to this decision or action of my own volition”. If they say no, offer guided choices. “What would you be willing to do?”, or “Would you be willing to choose X?”
- I’m unable to do X, but here’s what I’m willing to do. A great phrase to use if you are unable to do something but still want to show you’re supporting them or the initiative. AmyK uses her Vistage webinar as an example. “ I’m unable to come to London right now, but I’m willing to Zoom at 3.30am from San Diego’. It’s a great phrase to teach anyone who interacts with your customers, to avoid saying no”.
- A part of me… This is a good way to communicate a more sensitive emotion. “If you say you’re upset, angry, frustrated or disappointed, people often hear it as an absolute: I’m 100% angry”, says AmyK. By choosing to say ‘part of me is angry’, it’s not seen as an absolute. It deescalates the situation and gives more space for positive emotions.
Dealing with a difficult person need not be difficult. By using the right magical phrases you can still connect, draw a boundary, and put the critical thinking back on them.
Five questions to ask before making a decision
How confident are you in the decisions you make? To confidently and effectively get others on board, you need to be able to communicate why this decision has been made. AmyK shared five questions to help:
- Where am I running to? Many leaders make decisions because they are tired of X, rather than because they are excited about Y. “Are you trying to escape something, or going towards a clear and purposeful vision?” asks AmyK. You need to demonstrate the clarity and purpose behind what you want.
- Am I making this decision from a place of fear or faith? Having faith covers many areas. You need to have faith in yourself and your people. You need faith in your ability to think strategically, financially, culturally and operationally about bringing this vision to fruition. You don’t have to know everything, but need to challenge your own thinking.
- How committed am I to this new change? AmyK says that many people fail to ask this question of themselves before they move forward. “Instead”, she says, “they make a start, and give up as soon as a couple of obstacles appear”. This question asks how much resource, money, time and energy to put behind the project. It will also establish the point where investing will no longer be viable.
- How aligned is this decision with my short-term and/or long-term goals? Does your decision align with your overall business or department objectives?
- Who must I become to lead into this decision? Which skill sets do you need to change or develop? Which character strengths do you need to shore up? This is about building empathic intelligence.
By following AmyK’s toolkit, you can build your communication confidence and get people to connect. If you enjoyed the above tips, she shares a great framework for increasing buy-in and engagement: watch her recent webinar for more. This is especially important when the pandemic continues to make certain areas of business life challenging.
Many thanks to AmyK for her insights. You can learn more about her and her approach on her website. You will also find free resources for female leaders at www.shegetsit.com, and a fun and informative free video series on YouTube: 50@50.