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Learn from the great communicators how to mobilise your team

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The best leaders don`t communicate with their staff via email - they use their words, voice and actions to get messages across exactly as intended, says coach Sophie Robertson.

Great orators - think Barack Obama or Martin Luther King Jnr - have an ability to galvanise people in trying times or to mobilise people for a cause, she notes, but only seven per cent of the effectiveness of their communication is due to their words.

Some 38 per cent of communication is vocal (the tone you use) and 55 per cent is visual (your physiology or body language).

This is important to remember when delivering messages to your team, says Robertson, the director of YouNique Coaching.

If you communicate primarily via email you`re entering a "minefield", she says. Emails don`t allow for tone or physiology and therefore they are completely open to interpretation.

"Of course, there is a place for emails to confirm company policies etcetera, but communication is best delivered in different forms to take into account the 7-38-55 theory, and the different types of people you are communicating to - that is, audio, visual or kinaesthetic people.

"How many people on your team are deleting or ignoring emails? That`s probably a good indicator as to whether that is an ideal communication form for them."

Be mindful about mixed messages

When your words say one thing but your actions indicate another, research shows that people will believe the action or physiology over what you`ve said, Robertson says.

"Therefore be extremely mindful of the messages you are giving out. For example, if you say `there`s plenty of work around, we just have to find it` but you are not actually convinced, your team will see it. If your team sense incongruence between your words and tone, they will believe your tone.

"If you say, `there`s no need to worry in this economic climate` but they see you using all your time to cut costs instead of looking for opportunities, then they will believe your physiology."

You can`t fake optimism all the time, Robertson says. The expression on your face when you`re not consciously wearing one is the best indicator of your emotional state and will give you away.

"When you want to galvanise your team, think about the truly great communicators, how they combine their words, tone and body language to convey powerful believable messages.

"Next time you call a team meeting, ensure you are in the right emotional state so you can deliver your message in a clear, non-conflicting way. If you are genuinely worried about the state of the economy, postpone the meeting until you have the mental state you need so you don`t merely end up passing on your fear of failure.

"Learn to focus on abundance. While there may not be as many jobs around as previously, some companies are still making money. Do your research: Which companies hold market share in your sector? Who are their clients? What are they doing differently? How can you compete with them?

"Change your focus to the piece of pie that`s still there, rather than the piece of pie that has disappeared. Your focus will determine your state, which will determine your communications, which will determine your team`s state, output and results.

"Words are great but think also about how you can convey messages without words. Think about Charlie Chaplin, who could convey so many emotions without a single word. I am sure you know what you want to convey but ensure your delivery is unambiguous so your message is received the way you intend it."

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