Future leaders communicate at the right altitude

Iron-clad communication tip! Ready? Here it is: As the communicator, converse at the same altitude as your audience. Let me break this down a bit. People naturally settle on a certain altitude when they are communicating. Whether this be at work or in life outside of work, some of us love to worm our way through the weeds. Others prefer to be high enough to see the curvature of the earth. Many of us are in between. None are right. None are wrong. The trouble is when you are a weeds person who is talking to a 10,000′ person. Or, when you are a 10,000′ person talking to a 50,000′ person. Or, when you are anybody communicating to anybody else who is not at your altitude. Here’s what happens: We are speaking our language, but the other person is bored because you are admiring every dandelion, or they are lost because you are detailing the weather patterns over another country. Quickly after the disconnect manifests, the frustration sets in. “Don’t they know how important these details are!?! (low altitude)” Or, “Can’t we just get to the heart of the matter!?! (high altitude)” The key for future leaders? Discover your audience’s altitude and modulate your communication style so you are on the same plane. Remember, leaders bend as much as possible for the ultimate goal.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Future Leader | Leadership

Published on February 21, 2019

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