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Time to brush up communication skills?

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Why learn new skills?

​People usually work on their skills when their current behaviors stop being successful in a context they are used to -- at work, home, in the community; or when they are in a new situation where their old skills aren't working. For example, maybe you are a new manager, and your ways of influencing and collaborating with peers turn out to be mismatched for managing people. Or you are a parent whose skills worked fine until your son or daughter became an adolescent. Or your conflict resolution skills were acceptable until you hit a difficult crisis point. ​

​Try something right now: Take out a pen and a piece of paper, and sign your name with your non-dominant hand. What was that like? Awkward? Slow? Uncomfortable? Made you feel like you can't do it right? How were the results? Sloppy, not as good as writing with your dominant hand? Not as satisfying?​


These are all typical of what you will experience whenever you adopt new skills, which you are adopting so that you can be more effective, perhaps in situations that are unfamiliar to you. Part of learning anything new is accepting that it's going to feel awkward and uncomfortable, that it's going to take longer to get something done learning new skills, and that your results won't be perfect right away.

While accepting those facts about learning something new, try to adopt an attitude of curiosity. You may have a habitual reflex of criticizing yourself for not being perfect, but try to replace that with neutrally observing yourself in the situation where you are trying a new skill.. Identify what worked well and what didn't, and make a plan for change.

It's also helpful to try out new skills in less challenging situations, rather than the most difficult ones. When you were learning to ride a bike, you probably didn't head out on your first day to the biggest hill to start learning, and for good reason.

Feedback from other people is also useful. Try not to be defensive when receiving feedback! If you defend or brush off the feedback, the person is less likely to provide it in the future, cutting off opportunities to learn about yourself and hone your skills. Feedback is a gift. The most powerful knowledge we can possess in life is self awareness -- particularly, knowing how what we say and do impacts other people. We all have blind spots, places where our impact doesn't match our intent, and receiving feedback from others is the quickest way to build this knowledge. See Emotional Intelligence

Consult a professional if you would like to invest to speed up the learning process. Many people find that learning and understanding the cognitive part of a new skill is easier than actually putting the skill into practice, and coaches can help you with implementing the changed behavior, and can also offer insights about your approaches in situations you find challenging.

Read on the communication topics that you want to develop.

The following skills/behaviors will help you to communicate effectively. If you can listen, provide feedback, and follow some basics on breaking through conflict, you can face many of life's challenges in a way that gets you much of what yo

u want, maintains or enhances relationships, and yields satisfaction.


Providing Interpersonal Feedback

Providing Feedback in a Professional Setting

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