When it comes to communication skills, understanding how people are thinking and making their decisions is supremely valuable. Your ability to be effective with your communication skills increases dramatically when you know where someone is in terms of their level of decision-making, the options open to them, and what you need to do to help them make better decisions.

Here 4 Levels of Decision Making is a fundamental framework which has allowed leaders and those who need to influence their key clients, to be far more effective with far greater ease:

Level #1 is about ClarityAre we clear about what we are talking about? If we are not clear, why are we moving forward? Too many times, when we have vague notions of what we are trying to accomplish, or we are not really sure what our clients are trying to say or do, we let them keep going on as if we understand them. Getting clarity – and particularly clarity about what really matters – is a critical, first level, fundamental application of your communications skills.

Level #2 is about Focus. Once we have clarity about what we are talking about, the next key piece is about focus. The question at this level becomes: Is what we are talking about focused on what is most important? If it is not focused on what is most important to us, to our clients, to our organization, then we should not be dealing with it. If we are clear about what we are dealing with, and we know it is focused on what is most important, then we move to the next level. If it is not clear, you must first get clarity about what is most important and see if what is ‘on the table’ is consistent with what is most important.

Level #3 is about Impact. The critical factor here at this level of decision making is being sure that once we understand that we are focused on is what is most important, the key question then becomes: What choices and decisions would have the greatest impact on achieving what is most important? This is the first level of real leadership decision making – making an impact on what really matters.

 Level #4 is about Leverage. Once we are able to regularly get to making decisions that have impact on what is most important, we can move to Level 4 decision making. This is ultimate level of leadership decision-making that I call Leverage. Leverage is creating the environment and the opportunities for others to have an impact.  This is what the best and most successful leaders are excellent at.

So, what you have here are four key levels of decision making. You start at stage 1, and when done well you move quickly through them. If you are clear and focused on what really matters, it makes it a lot easier to move to the level of impact on what really matters. Once we have the kind of clarity and focus that allows us to make an impact, we have a much better chance of creating opportunities, situations and the environment where our people can also really make an impact. That is high impact communications skills in action.

To your success,
Steve