Communicating as a Leader
With June Schmidt
Podcast: Communicating as a Leader
The ways in which we communicate have had to change drastically over these last seven months. If you find yourself working from home like so many of us, you are familiar with the struggles of virtual communication. Virtual or not, communicating can be a challenge at times. Perfecting your method when you are leading, or being led, by individuals that prefer different methods of communication can cause misunderstandings.
In this episode of the Banowetz Podcast, June and Sarah have a conversation about effective communication strategies that all leaders should know, and the importance of optimism in all situations. Change is constant, but the worst of it is only temporary!
Sarah: The Banowetz Podcast. Welcome back to the Banowetz Marketing podcast. I’m Sarah Banowetz and I am here with
June: June Schmidt and it’s great to be here on this lovely afternoon.
Sarah: So June and I both work at Banowetz Marketing. what do you do at Banowetz Marketing?
June: Oh, I do lots of things.
Sarah: She wears all the hats, right?
June: No, I don’t by far. No, I do not. But I really believe in working with clients in their leadership skills and developing their ability to be an effective leader. And so, as you and I were talking this afternoon and determined that we were going to do this podcast, we had a conversation on what would be relevant and timely topics for us to delve into. I also promised Sarah that I wouldn’t use really big words this afternoon.
Sarah: So June comes from a teaching background. So.
June: I do, and I, I like big words, but anyway, that all being said, I think we all can relate to the concept of trust right now.
We have things going on in our nation and in other parts of the world where those have been a big part of the headlines. And so as I’ve done a fair amount of research this week for social media posts and whatnot, one of the topics that cropped up for me was the concept of trust and as business leaderships, what can we be doing in an authentic manner to accrue, to build leadership trust?
And so, it’s interesting to me, but there’s been a study done at Harvard that talks about the neuroscience of leadership. How does the brain engage? Not only the person that’s communicating, but the person that’s listening, what’s going on in all of those brains as leadership is being established within an organization.
And one of the things that this study determined was that trustworthiness is established within milliseconds of when someone encounters another person. And I don’t know about you, Sarah, but to me, that’s mind blowing.
Sarah: Well, does that go along with how you have like five seconds or whatever it is to make a first impression?
June: It’s three seconds. It is three seconds. Three to seven seconds actually is what they say. And you know, back in the day, when all of us are buying homes, If you recall your real estate agent probably said that within 30 seconds, that couple or those individuals have made a decision in terms of whether this is a house for them or not.
And so what the picture reveals, even in the publications, means a lot but as you go into that home or have that personal connection, it’s critical in terms of whether you’re going to be able to develop a long lasting relationship with that client. So I think along with that Goes your body language.
And that’s the other thing that I’ve studied. And as you indicated, I was a teacher for a long time, and one of the things I still have the privilege of doing is voice teaching. And one of the things that I spend a lot of time talking about is how you hold your body and what your body conveys.
And so let’s be honest when we get ready to give any kind of presentation, whatever that looks like more often than not, we’re nervous aren’t we? And one of the things that I convey to people that I learned is I did a study on, again, neuroscience. The study of the brain was that all your brain is simply saying, is I want to do this. Well, I want to do this to the best of my ability. Well, what’s wrong with that. So of course it’s not bad to be nervous, but what are you going to do with that?
Sarah: That’s a really good point.
June: Yeah. And I think that turns the whole concept upside down. Because it becomes a good thing. Being nervous is good. And how am I going to use that adrenaline to effectively create the presentation that’s going to not only put oneself in a good light, but in turn to welcome that other person in.
So how do you show that you are an effective leader? And the very first, the thing that was said was you need to make eye contact.
You should make such sincere and effective eye contact that today I can walk away and I can say, I realized today that Sarah Banowetz has Hazel green colored eyes. And to take that even one step further. Just smile at that person. Genuinely smile. Not smile because, okay, I’ve been talking to this person for 15 seconds, I better smile by now because I’ve already used up my time where I can effectively connect with this person.
But then you’re beginning to build that conduit between your client and you and so then you’re ready to sit down and really talk about things.
The other thing is our tone of voice. And I don’t know if you ever saw the movie called Iron Lady where Meryl Streep played Margaret Thatcher.
Margaret Thatcher of course, was the prime minister of Great Britain.
Sarah: Oh yeah, no, I actually have. I just forgot that that was the name of it.
June: And when she was early on, out in the campaign circuit, she would talk very high like this and would just start talking faster and it was hard to understand her and a coach coached her and said, do you want to be believable?
Not only in public speaking, but particularly when, of course the medium was television and primarily radio. Well, if you want to be heard and you want to be believable and credible as a leader, lower your speaking voice because that connotes calmness and authority and that I am someone who can make the hard decisions in very crucial places.
So as I was listening to a DJ on the radio this week, as I was doing my workout and the pitch of her voice was very high, I went, oh, I am tuning you out because of those very things. So again, for me, and for all of us, it is a reminder not only what we do physically, but what we do orally.
Sarah: That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought about that before, and probably slowing down your speech too, when you really want to make your point. Lower and slower.
June: It is. And, you know, there are some people that have said when you really want to make a point that you talk even quieter. And I used to do that even with little kiddos that when I really wanted to make a point, I would say I would talk just softer and I would physically see kids lean further forward in order to catch what I was saying.
Sarah: Well, these are good points when we’re talking about business leaders dealing with their own clients and with their own employees too, and being empathetic. I feel like you’re speaking to then get a response back from them and hear what they have to say.
June: And that’s so important. If you’re sharing something with me and again, something that I shared with some high school students yesterday, and this applies to all of us.
Is that don’t, we all like to have an opportunity to convey our thoughts?
Sarah: We want to be heard.
June: We want to be heard and we have a tendency to jump over each other and to interrupt and do all those things because we always think that more is better. Don’t we?
We’re seeing that a lot on television and other mediums right now that that seems to be the prevalent thought.
Well, one of the things that I’ve shared with students and thus also with adults is this, when you have an important point, when you’re passionate about something, I owe you the respect to listen to what you’re saying, and then to perhaps respond accordingly.
Well, aren’t I owed the same kind of respect? I will do that for you because I know how important that point is. Please do the same for me.
And invariably, what happens then is that the din or the noise in the room subsides. Because I am going to choose to respect you because I know what you have to say is relevant and important. So again, we’re building that bond, building that relationship of mutual trust.
It isn’t that far more productive when we do that? Aren’t we probably going to get more done if we do that? But I think added to that, we get so caught up in what we’re saying and in the heat of the moment, whatever that looks like, that we forget about what we’re conveying non-verbally.
What we convey non-verbally what are we doing in our body language? Are we sitting back in our chair? When we’re doing that, what are we saying? I’m disconnected. I have no interest in what you’re saying.
And so therefore, as a person that’s talking, you catch that. And the best of what you want to say gets lost because you’re distracted by what that person is showing.
Well, and even going back to the gestures that we make, part of that study also was that because we constantly update information that we need to build a constant flow of trustworthiness.
Now, the good part of that is even when that trustworthiness is broken, we have that opportunity to reestablish that trust.
Sarah: So what kind of things can we do to reestablish that trust?
June: That’s a really good question, Sarah. Again, it goes back to the, how authentic can you be? You know, first of all, in your body and in the way you talk and making eye contact and really talking to that person and really conveying that you respect their opinion. Saying very authentically Sarah, there’s an issue here. Can we talk about it? Or how can I help? How can we make this better? And really listening, again, that active listening to what that person says. If it’s a long discourse, I’m writing things down. You and I, when we sit down you’re affirming me when I am talking about things and you are writing those things down. That tells me what I’m saying is important. And your writing it down says what I’m saying is so important that you’re, you’re writing it down because you want to remember it.
With all the things that are going on in your business these are points that you don’t want to forget, and you want to come back to, and even might want to revisit and discuss again.
Sarah: That’s a good point.
June: That’s making me want to reestablish more of my relationship with you in a business sense.
Sarah: Well, and I remember a conversation, it reminds me of a conversation that, Banowetz Marketing had a couple of weeks ago.
We were, we were just asking those questions and really being an active listener and, and writing down things.
I remember the a few days later it was even brought up again that like, that was a great conversation. And it was, it was just a lot of asking questions, active listening, and it was a really productive conversation.
June: There you go. Progress is made because communication, if it has been fractured, you’re finding a way to mend it.
I have to laugh at my husband because my husband has two brothers and there is competition for conversation.
And so when he and I are talking, very often, he will attempt to finish my sentence or he’ll have the solution to what he perceives is my problem. And invariably, I will have to predicate by saying I don’t need your advice. I just need you to listen. Because trust me, being a businessman for all those years, he’s got the solution. He’s got the answer and that’s not really what I need. Sometimes we need somebody that will just let you air what you have to say and maybe not respond at all.
Sarah: Just listen.
June: Just listen, absolutely.
We read stories about that constantly, or at least I have, the story of two business men being in a train and making this long journey.
And, the one person just chose to simply ask questions and then say nothing. And they got to the end of that long journey and the person you said that was doing the most talking said, That’s one of the best conversations I’ve had in a long time. So conversation could look different to a lot of different people.
So trust, nonverbal, what we communicate about letting people into our lives and letting them know that what they say is significant.
Now I’m going to go back to the anxiety thing for just a little bit. I want to do that because anxiety, oftentimes, is linked to change.
How do we tend to feel about change, Sarah,
Sarah: I don’t know. I would say that we like it, but then we don’t like it. A lot of us don’t want to be bored, but then when the change happens, it’s really, really hard.
So I would say, universally, we find change hard.
June: I think we dread change the initial concept to change, whatever that looks like, we don’t like the look of that because we like to protect. We like to feel safe. It’s survival. And change is going to feel a little bit like, ooh, my comfort zone has just been blown up.
So if, we want to be effective leaders, while we don’t necessarily like it, we welcome the change because we can see the positive results.
It’s going to be good for our team. It’s going to be good for our clients. And ultimately, it makes us sharper at what we do because you and I have talked about how we truly want to be lifelong learners.
Sarah: Isn’t that the thing, that when you get down to it, a lot of the, companies that don’t change, end up falling behind.
June: And I think it’s okay for us to say, initially going, Oh, this is scary.
Think about some of the biggest decisions in the last two years. How did you feel about that at the beginning?
Sarah: It’s exciting at the beginning, but it is incredibly scary. Right before we started podcasting, we had our weekly staff meeting and I just mentioned the difference between today and a year ago, today is just crazy.
But it’s been painful. I mean, there’s been a lot of exciting things, so you can look at all the good things, but all those good things also come with a lot of pain points, a lot of growing. But the change that has come out of it has been really great.
June: Well, they’re going to be those moments where it is still scary. That’s part of life.
When we allow ourselves to focus on the positive aspects, it also brings a sense of clarity.
Sarah: So you’ve walked this road with me for the past. 12 months too, and one thing that was really helpful was, you said to me, Sarah, you don’t have to hide it from us.
You could tell that I was just holding onto it and I said, well, I can’t talk about it. And you’re like, no, you need to. And Annie Moody is one of the employees here too. We were just talking about that this week how, when I started to do that, it really helped relieve my stress too.
Now you have to do it responsibly. But she even said that she appreciates that too, because she said it gives us, as team members, a chance to grow too. And if you’re just holding onto it and trying to solve all the problems on your own, then you’re not even giving us a chance to grow.
June: And we do understand that ultimately there are many things that are your decision and we respect that. And that’s why we work well as a team.
I also believe that that’s been able to happen because you have been very authentic and effective at communicating to us that you actively listen to us and you value our input. So in turn, you’ve given us permission to say to you let us share this with you. We want to share this with you.
Sarah: I get so excited when we’re talking about like the Christmas party coming up. We were doing this. we were communicating well, and let’s celebrate.
June: And we’re now going to be at that point where you said we get to celebrate life. We get to celebrate the relationships we’ve had and we get to celebrate being a team together. That’s looking forward to 2020.
Sarah: And that is a great point to Stop this conversation. Thank you for. Podcasting with me today, June.
June: Thanks for having me again. I love doing it.
Sarah: Back at you June.
Well, thank you for turning into the Banowetz Marketing podcast. If you enjoyed this, I would recommend that you would like subscribe or follow on any of the platforms that you’re hearing or seeing this on. And if you are interested in any marketing or business leadership, reach out to us and we will talk to you later. Bye.