Communication skills vary from person to person but are vital in conveying or publicizing the message of policy change. Communication may be spoken, nonverbal, or written and the manner in which the message comes across will determine our success when leading policy change.
Two communication skills that are important to exemplify when leading policy change are emotional awareness and listening. Emotional awareness is essential in communicating how a person feels about a certain subject or in making decisions. Most often we make decisions based on how we feel (Helpguide.org, n.d.), making it essential to know why we have the feelings we are experiencing and how to control them. Being able to manage our feelings appropriately (Helpguide.org, n.d.) in any given situation is a source for good communication. Being emotionally aware of our feelings gives us the ability to identify with or understand what others are feeling. It also assists us in being courteous to others (Mind Tools, n.d.) and identifying with them even if we do not personally care for them or the message they bring (Helpguide.org, n.d.). In leading policy change, we will come in contact with people who do not agree with us or our message. It is at that point when we need to be emotionally aware and not communicate in a manner that could produce a negative response to our policy issue.
Listening skills are critical to positive communication (Helpguide.org, n.d.). Developing good listening skills would be valuable when leading policy change. While I may be the person to develop the idea of the policy issue, I can learn from others I come in contact with to help advocate for my policy issue. Cooperation from others will go a long way when they feel they have been heard and that their input is valued. Listening helps create an environment of cooperation, collaboration, creativity, and connection (Helpguide.org, n.d.). It has always been my belief that the more you listen, the more you learn.
Communication is a constant part of being a school administrator and something that on most days I do well. However, on other days I totally miss the point and fail greatly in my attempts to communicate in a clear manner. When communicating with my staff I find it most effective to bring the conversation to a personal level. For example, a few months back I had to speak to a teacher who had been confronted by a parent. The parent lashed out at the teacher and made her feel terrible as a teacher and she suddenly did not feel confident in what she was doing. She is an outstanding teacher and one whose professionalism I value greatly. In my communication with her, I reminded her of the good that she had done. I recalled specific children and families she had worked with and helped through difficult struggles in their lives. I was able to talk with her and help her work through this issue.
On the other hand, just last week I was having a conversation with the father of some children in the school. The conversation was about the behavior of his youngest child and I felt that we had settled the situation by the end of the day. However, the next day both parents arrived at my office very upset, wanting to pull their children out of the program because of what I had said to the father the previous day. After further discussion, I realized that we were not on the same level of our communication and the father had understood me to say something that I did not intend to convey. His understanding of what I said was the complete opposite of what I felt I had conveyed. I realize now that I had not been clear in my communication with this parent. What we say or how we present our message will affect how others respond to our communication.
Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Effective communication. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/effective_communication_skills.htm
Mind Tools. (n.d.). The 7 Cs of communication: A checklist for clear communication. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCS_85.htm