Becoming a great communicator takes learning, practice, and forging on, even (and especially) when you reach your personal “growth edge.”
For example, many people – including many leaders – have an extreme fear of public speaking. Yet this is an essential part of management communications.
Others have a very difficult time listening well, and want to jump ahead to get things done before they fully understand a problem or challenge and its causes.
If you’d like stronger communication skills, here are a few places to start to build or enhance them:
1. Observe and listen
Get feedback on your observational and listening skills. Resist the urge to jump in, run off, or check e-mail when others talk.
Stop. Watch. Listen. Learn.
Practice taking in information from multiple sources and summarizing it. This often leads to more informed and better decisions or outcomes than does “sole-sourcing” your information.
3. Write and speak
Seek out opportunities to write and speak, especially if you dread it. Go where the discomfort is high and get rid of it through learning, practice and experience.
If you’re in a leadership position, you need to have comfort and proficiency with these two vital communication skills.
4. Study experts
Find a few people who excel at the skill that presently eludes you or one with which you don’t have as much confidence as you’d like. Study these experts and figure out what they do especially well. Then start to practice. Step by step, you’ll improve.
5. Seek coaching and feedback
Find a good coach and get focused feedback and improvement advice. Then implement it.
6. Coach someone else in the skills you’re trying to master
Often we learn more when we teach others. After you’ve practiced a new skill for a while, help someone else who’s newer to the learning curve.
This will help you realize how much you’ve learned and improved, while it also helps someone else (and that’s always a good thing, for many reasons).
7. Review and reflect
Learning is enhanced with regular, high-quality reflective time. Take your share, regularly.
Reinforce and accelerate your learning through periodic review of your progress. It will help deepen your skills and your confidence.
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