Addressing anxiety around communication
It’s all in the approach, and unfortunately much of the communication support that is directed at leaders falls short. Let me illustrate this with a current example:
We’re working with an executive who leads a significant chunk of an organisation, so it goes without saying that he needs to engage his team. He happens to be responsible for strategy, so he also has to explain that to the entire organisation, as well as to the board of the holding company. These are all 'big ticket' communication requirements, but the problem is that our subject finds addressing any audience larger than a handful of people not just stressful, but debilitating. The nerves come, the breathing shortens and the words seem to disappear. Imagine the anxiety he feels in the lead up, never mind the meetings themselves. He’s been sent on mindfulness programmes and advanced presentation skills courses, he’s discussed it with his executive coach but the anxiety remains. The reason? All of these solutions have largely offered up generic ‘tools and techniques’ that have no real bearing on this person’s specific plight. They may be great in theory, but do they get to the root cause for an individual? They struggle to factor in variables such as national culture, corporate culture, personality traits and communication style.
This is where bespoke, focused communication coaching makes such a difference. When taking this approach, time is spent getting to know the person and the context in which they’re operating, as well as crucially spending time discussing what they’re actually meant to be talking about. As it turns out, in the example above, the problem was one of belief in the relevance of the message (‘I always seem to be on a different page from the audience’) and of ownership (‘the Board take the final decisions no matter what I say’). So working through these complex issues has helped to address the deep-rooted problem.