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10 Communication Habits of Effective Local Government Managers


All effective local government managers have one thing in common: The ability to develop and strengthen relationships through communication.

Skilled communicators have the ability to develop better working relations with people they don't already know well, they take the time to talk, to listen, and to exchange information to develop bonds of understanding that can facilitate the communication process. Just think, wouldn't it be great to have the ability to give clear assignments, help employees solve problems, motivate them, and help them accomplish their goals based on your ability to communicate with them?

Start today by applying these 10 communication habits of effective local government managers to increase your own leadership skills.

1. Pay attention.

Listen to people and how they deal with each other in the organization. Different people may use different channels of communication to get messages across.

2. Stay tuned in.

Weigh information equitably before deciding what is fact and what is ficition by staying tuned to both the formal and informal communication networks in the organization.

3. Choose your words wisely.

Make sure that you mean what you say and that the people you are talking to will be familiar with your language.

4. Think about your perceptions and others.

Remember that what you think, know, hear, and understand is based on your perceptions of the world. And your perceptions may be different from those of the people you are talking with.

5. Look for non-verbal cues.

It may tell you more about what people are thinking and feeling than their words do.

6. Observe others.

When working in small groups, observe the way people interact and exchange information. Become self-concious about the role you play in groups and its effect on how the group gets its work done.

7. Don't bridge a communication gap.

If it doesn't exist yet, don't bridge it. Assuming the existence of a gap can create one.

8. Develop a personal style.

Having one for sending and receiving messages that is open, honest, direct and flexible will greatly affect people's understanding of your message.

9. Paraphrase messages.

Acquire this habit to make sure what you heard is what the speaker intended. Listen when people paraphrase your messages, so that you can learn to be more precise and direct the next time.

10. Listen!

Even the most carefully presented messages will be missed completely if you and others aren't listening carefully.

Information in this article is extracted from ICMA's Municipal Management Series, Effective Communication: A Local Government Guide.

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Douglas Shontz

John Wesley White (Facebook): "This article is good, as far as it goes. The biggest point missed by most articles on communication is that it is not just skill and technique--it is also a set of values. Many performance evaluation systems differentiate between oral and written communication, which reemphasizes the skill-technique dimension. Too many managers have well developed skills but do not demonstrate the values of communication. Timely, unambiguous information in all directions, coupled with authentic interest and listening, is more valuable than any set of well polished skills. Employees can smell the difference."

Robert Carty

Great post. Another thing I'd add is to be sure to speak in a way that can't be misrepresented later. In news articles or on the web, it's easy to pull a selective quote and change the meaning or context. In addition to clarifying your public messages, it forces clarity on internal communications as well. Basically number 3 above!

Douglas Shontz

Kristiana Harapan (Knowledge Network Q&A): "Key for me regardless of which end of the communication I am on, is feeling a sense of connection. If I don't feel I have truly connected with the other person(s) involved I inevitably walk away from the encounter feeling dissatisfied with the interaction and frequently concerned as to whether or not we are all on the same page.
You cannot connect well with others if you cannot connect well with yourself. For me, that means I do need to be very self-aware and have a good understanding of my personal values. You can apply skills all day long but if you do not connect with others, do not expect those skills to be effective."


Douglas Shontz

Mario Diaz (Knowledge Network Q&A): "I agree with both Douglas and Kristina. There is a whole set of values that seem to be missing lately. More and more as we rely on technology it appears to me that our attention span becomes shorter. I believe that when it comes to communications with friend’s, family, or even colleagues we need to take interest in the other person. The points referenced in the article are great for isolated conversations, but as leaders (throughout all aspects of life) we need to be building a greater framework for our communications. Having others know that we are genuinely interested in them as individuals will allow for a freer flow of information and perspectives that in turn allows us to make better decisions and most importantly will connect us to some amazing people in this world."


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