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Good Communicators Lead with Their Strengths & Use Them Often


“When you find your strengths, you find your voice."

-- John C. Maxwell

Do you know what your strengths are? When I was younger, I had given this a lot of thought, especially because it's a common interview question, but I always struggled to put my awareness into words. Often, my answer would be something like, "I pick up new things quickly, and I'm a good listener." This answer isn't wrong, but if we're talking about communication, I have no idea how these two things would help me be a better speaker or writer!

About ten years ago, I was introduced to an assessment that changed my life (more on this in a few paragraphs), and now talking about strengths (mine and others) is my FAVORITE topic!

This week's communication law is the Law of Leverage, which states that "good communicators lead with their strengths and use them often." John Maxwell writes, "When you find your strengths, you find your voice. From then on, your communication fits who you are. It becomes natural." But when we don't leverage our strengths, we end up just trying to fix our "weaknesses" or "shortcomings."

So I ask you again, do you know what your strengths are?

Connect by Leveraging Your Connection Strength

Dr. Seuss once wrote, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you." And how true this is even in communication, as it's easy for us to attempt to communicate using someone else's methods. But when we try to communicate like someone else, either because we think they do it better or that it will be more widely received, we lose the authenticity of our message, and it will often fall flat for our audience. In the book, John identifies "four primary connection points of communication," which can help you identify your communication strength.

  • Heart: This connection point encourages others by creating an emotional bond between yourself, your content, and your audience. This connection is about being open and vulnerable with your audience, as well as being empathetic about where they are coming from.

  • Help: This connection point instructs others "by giving them practical tools that can improve their lives." This connection helps your audience to apply your content in a very personal way.

  • Humor: This connection point grabs your audience by making them laugh or entertaining them. This connection is about breaking down the barriers between you and your audience by adding levity to the conversation.

  • Hope: This connection point inspires your audience and helps them envision a better future or path forward. This connection provides them with possibilities that you can then help them achieve.

Of course, you may use all of these throughout your communication, but it's likely that one or two of them is your strength, and if you lead out of what comes most naturally for you, you have a better chance of connecting with your audience.

"You cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are." -- Tom Rath

Succeed by Leveraging Your Natural Talents

You can level up your communication by identifying and starting with your Connection Strength, but this isn't the only natural talent you have at your disposal. Here we come to that life-changing assessment I mentioned earlier. Gallup CliftonStrengths is an invaluable tool to help individuals better understand what comes naturally to them. The assessment identifies your talents which you turn into strengths through intentional use and practice. My top five strengths are Learner, Developer, Individualization, Relator, and Responsibility. John Maxwell's top five strengths are Strategic, Maximizer, Woo, Activator, and Achiever.

"Every strength can become a communication asset if you harness it for the benefit of your audience." Do you know what comes naturally to you and how you can leverage that in your communication?

If not, I am certified with Gallup to administer and coach you through this assessment and the results (and others) if you are interested in better understanding yourself and your strengths.

Help Others Succeed by Leveraging Your Skills

You also have the strength of your skills and experiences to offer to those in your audience; use them! And maybe you're thinking, you don't have skills or experiences that would help others, but I'm betting that you're selling yourself short.

What are the areas in your life where you have developed knowledge and skills? What areas have you succeeded in? What have you experienced in life, both good and bad? If you're not sure, ask the people who are closest to you. Take inventory because tapping into these areas when you communicate "provides you with something you can give others to help them succeed."

This week, answer these questions:

  • Which of the four connection points comes most naturally to you?

  • How can you leverage your natural talents and use them in your communication?

  • How can you help others through your skills, knowledge, and experiences?

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