Engage your people with active language

Imagine a meeting full of engaged, positive people. If you’re a leader, you can make that meeting happen! The key is to use active constructive language.


As you know, I am a big fan of active constructive communication. In my article Improve your relationships with ONE skill, I explained how to build an active constructive conversation by:

  • Listening for emotions
  • Acknowledging positive feelings
  • Asking questions about others’ experiences
  • Affirming

As a leader or manager, you can apply the four principles of active constructive communication every day. This helps create a positive workplace culture, in which all team members can flourish and contribute. Here are some practical ways to do this.


Start positive conversations

For example, imagine a team working on a long-running project which has undergone multiple revisions. Team members are frustrated because they feel their ideas aren’t being heard or considered. As their leader, you could talk them through this.


Ask people to expand on their ideas

Encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas. Each team member has different skill sets to bring to the table. Ask each person to share ideas on the best way to move things forward, then give these ideas due recognition and consideration.


Show you’ve heard

Provide positive, empathetic feedback to show that you’re listening and that you care. As Stephen Covey says, “When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air.” As a leader empathy connects you to your team.


Be a great role model

 Remember that for leaders, active constructive communication is essential. It strengthens ties between team members and builds healthy team dynamics. Members of your team model their behaviour on yours. When you respond in active constructive mode, you are teaching them how to do the same thing.

Think of the most influential leaders you know. No doubt they’re demonstrating many of the skills I’ve just described. The good news is those skills don’t just come naturally – anyone can learn them. I hope you’ll use the tips in this article to start your own learning journey today.


About the author of this article

Eleanor Shakiba helps savvy professionals communicate in tough situations. She is a positive psychology trainer and success coach, based in Sydney. Discover how Eleanor can help you or your team here.


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