For executives looking to build a stellar personal brand, your ability to adapt is just as important as your capacity to accomplish. Being a proactive problem solver is critical to demonstrating your value in the marketplace. Further, it is important to expand your communicative repertoire and then adapt your style to fit various situations as they arise while still remaining true to self.
Power communicators are able to do this seamlessly. Given today’s competitive landscape, professionals cannot afford to have a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to connecting and relating with others. Flexible communication is a critical component of any brand. You have to listen. You have to process. And you have to adjust your message and your delivery accordingly. Communicative brand flexibility requires three steps.
First, you have to RECEIVE what your listener is telling you. The message given by the other person may be different than what you originally had in mind, and it might cause your original objectives to change. If you don’t listen well (and most people do not), you will not be well prepared. Listen to hear, learn and relate, not just to wait for an opportunity to speak.
Next, you should REFLECT upon what was said, how it was said and why it was said. Focus on the person’s MINDset—their motivations, interest, needs and desires. Understanding why someone says something is far more important than what they say. If necessary, ask questions for clarification and show that you really care about that person’s perspective and objectives. If you can become savvy enough to pick up on someone’s reason behind their stance, you also become better equipped to prepare your reply and style. Developing a reputation for listen to what is said without judgment increases respect for you, your ability to empathize, and your overall brand equity.
Finally, carefully RESPOND to the why. I recommend paraphrasing what you think you have heard to make sure you are on the same page and that you truly understand your listener’s perspective. Now, as you adjust your message, you are responding based on what you have received and reflected upon.
Communication is the primary channel used to deliver your brand. Unfortunately, we fail to communicate our intentions more often than we effectively communicate our desires. Being able to listen with empathy can make or break your brand. After all, people work with (and promote) people that they like. Your colleagues often will not care what you know until they know that you care—especially when dealing with conflict. As a result, the best way to infuse authentic empathy into your communication is to seek to understand and not solely to be understood.