COMMUNICATION THAT ABRAHAM LINCOLN USED FOR EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP
By Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Excerpt from the training video/DVD “Lincoln
By following some
simple, timeless principles of good communication, Abraham Lincoln
achieved amazing results, advancing from the lowest ranks of American
society to the White House. If a backwoods boy on the frontier can pick
up and master these principles—these secrets of communication-- so can
One: IF YOU WANT TO
COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY, YOU MUST HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.
Communication is sharing. But you cannot share what you do not have. No
matter how skillful a speaker or writer you may be, if you are ignorant of
something that you could know, or if your knowledge is faulty, you will
eventually be found out.
wrote an aspiring lawyer: “The mode is very simple, though laborious and
tedious. It is only to get the books, and read, and study them
carefully…Work, work, work is the main thing.”
Two. USE STORIES, ANALOGIES, AND IMAGERY
If you want to be a persuasive communicator, it's not enough to get
things exactly right. Your audience may quickly forget the facts, the
statistics, and the arguments that you use. But they are likely to
remember your stories and examples, and the imagery and poetry of your
Show your audience,
don't tell them. Paint a picture, and they'll carry it with them.
From Lincoln’s earliest days as a lawyer, he learned how important
questions could be in winning a case.
Good questions have
immense value in communication and leadership. Yet they are frequently
under-utilized. You can use questions to gain information or to guide a
conversation. Often the other party will not even know that they are
being led. By means of questions, you can get them to think about a
subject that they might not have considered previously, or lead them to
look at it in a different light.
Four: KNOW YOUR
If you want to be an effective communicator, you must learn as much as
possible about your audience. So consider the type of person you are
trying to communicate with. Some people want to hear all the details.
Others want only a broad outline. Some are moved by emotion; others
Study your audience
to determine if they are ready to listen, ready to follow. "It takes two
to speak truth"--Henry David Thoreau said--"One to speak and another to
Five: CONVINCE THE
AUDIENCE THAT YOU ARE A FRIEND WHO HAS THEIR BEST INTEREST AT HEART.
When you speak in public, you will be most effective if you think of
yourself, not as making a speech, but as someone who has come to talk with
friends about a subject that is important to them.
Lincoln stated in
one of his speeches: "A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of
gall. Then he advised: “If you would win a man to your cause, first
convince him that you are his sincere friend....On the contrary, assume to
dictate to his judgment, or to command his actions, or to mark him as one
to be shunned or despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all
the avenues to his head and his heart.... "
Six: CONSIDER THE
CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR MESSAGE.
Think about the impact your message will have on your audience before
you deliver it. If you are tempted to say something harsh to somebody,
ask yourself, “What will an angry message accomplish?” “Will it destroy
the relationship?” Or, “Will it generate positive results?” Lincoln
wrote: “No man who has resolved to make the most of himself can spare
time for personal contention. Better to yield the right of way to a dog,
than to be bitten by him in contesting the right.”
Seven. IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY EVERY
Lincoln tried to expose myself to the biggest ideas and the best
communicators he could find. As a youngster, he steeped himself in books
such as biographies of George Washington, selections from
Demosthenes, Franklin, and dramatic passages from Hamlet, Falstaff, and
Self-improvement need not be a solitary
experience. Lincoln honed his communication skills by becoming a member
of literary groups and debating societies.
And Lincoln learned to benefit from
criticism. He realized that one good critic telling you what you are
doing wrong can do more to help you than ten thousand people telling you
how great you are. But Lincoln did not let criticism destroy his
self-confidence or his will to lead. Criticism was just information to be
If you'd like to watch and hear Abraham
Lincoln present these seven secrets of leadership and communication, and
expand on them, plus give you three more secrets that aren't in this
article, you'll want to purchase the much-praised video/DVD/CD
"Lincoln On Communication"
Click here for information about how you can obtain your own copy.
Every day do something no matter how
small that will make you better. That's how you become an effective
communicator--one step at a time. Famous newspaperman Horace Greeley, who
often was Lincoln’s critic, made this telling observation about the great
communicator: “There was probably no year of his life that he was not a
wiser, cooler, better man than he had been the year preceding.”
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