Every conversation is an opportunity to build a relationship or damage one. This is a point we often share in our leadership programs and a principle that comes up with most coaching clients as well. Many of us spend a large portion of our day speaking with other people. Be they colleagues, clients, friends, strangers, neighbors, prospects, or employees, we engage in conversations that can last a few seconds or a few hours. And with each of those encounters, how we handle ourselves, approach the topic, focus on the other person, and choose our words has an impact on the relationship with that person.

A recent SmartBrief article outlined the most important attributes for effective presentations which also happen to be the characteristics most often cited by employees as the ones they want most in a leader – Honest, Forward-looking, Inspiring, Competent. If you’re looking to build relationships through more effective communication, these traits will set you on a path to success.

And here are a few other attributes for effective relationship-building conversations:

Trusting – It’s easy to send a message that you don’t trust someone, even if you don’t mean to. If you shoot down their ideas, are unwilling to let go of responsibilities, question their decisions, or find fault in their approach, they may be left feeling that you don’t have confidence in them and that you are not the kind of leader they want to work with. To build the relationship instead, demonstrate through your words and actions that you trust them.

Positive – Certainly not every conversation you have will have a positive tone, but even the difficult conversation can be approached from a place of positive energy and attitude. If you are seen as someone who focuses on the negative or always finds the reason why an idea won’t fly, then it’s less likely that people will seek you out for guidance and collaboration. Enthusiasm, openness, and inclusion will create the connection that you need.

Supportive – A leader’s primary job is to make her people successful by creating the right environment for employees to do their best and be their best. Demonstrating support during a conversation helps the other person know that you are on their side and have their best interest at heart. Asking questions such as “How can I best support you on this project?” “What can I do to help you succeed?” or “What resources do you need?” open the door for team members to share their concerns and lets them know that you have their backs.

As you step into your next conversation, take a moment to focus on how you will build up the relationship and put these leadership attributes into practice. With one conversation at a time, you can move forward toward being the best leader you can be.

What other attributes are important to exhibit when engaging in conversation? Click here to comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

To be a more effective communicator, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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