Three Ways To Better Communicate With the C-Suite

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© frank peters -

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If you deal regularly with C-level executives (and I sure hope you do), you probably already know that it takes time to get used to having normal conversations with them. Nothing against the CEOs I’ve worked with, of course, but the position lends itself to being intimidated, especially for newcomers.

Luckily, there are some ways to alleviate that uncertainty and make communicating with executives a little easier.

Being direct and human

I spent a few minutes with Trish McFarlane of HR Ringleader to talk about this issue. She had a blog post about the issue and I wanted to get a bit more in depth on some of the issues she talked about in the post.

One of the things we discussed was that being direct will make you unique in a sea of suck ups and yes men. “When they get direct feedback, it is refreshing and it makes you stand out in their mind,” says McFarlane. “They’ll think, ‘If I really want to know what’s going on, I’ll talk to them.'”

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Another thing she mentions is the fact that executives are, in fact, human. McFarlane mentioned that an executive early in her career pulled her aside and said, “Look, I’m just a guy.” Especially when first interacting with executives, it is easy to put them up on a pedestal, but you have to also realize that they aren’t that much different in reality.

HRevolution and more

We talk about all three ways in greater depth as well as the upcoming HRevolution show in Las Vegas on October 2nd (full disclosure: I’m presenting at the event and an unabashed fan of it). Take a listen below.

[buzzsprout episode=”32053″ player=”true”]

Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.