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How to Be Your Own Communication Coach


Most people communicate every day and do it reasonably well. Intuitively, we know what does and does not constitute good communication. However, our practices do not always reflect our know-how. We can improve the way we send and receive messages, at least some of the time. Here is a self-study approach you can use to be your own coach and improve your communication skills. You can make incremental and consistent changes in your abilities. Be patient, because it doesn't happen overnight.

Thinking of communication skills, picture a score card with your score moving up and down depending on a variety of factors.

What is the situation? Who are you talking to? How clear is your message? How are you responding to the other person? How emotionally involved are you in the final outcome?

Using the list in the chart below, rate yourself on each behaviour.

This is a sample list. Keep adding points to it, so that you can improve where it is needed.

  • Develop a "can do" attitude. It's easier than you may think. Remind yourself that strong communication skills are a core competency in today's workplace. Building bridges with clients, improving supervisory skills and team building all require effective communication skills. A positive mindset and a focused goal are necessary to make consistent changes.
  • Books abound on communication skills. Begin reading to raise your level of consciousness and understanding. Not all information will be new to you. Reinforce what you already know and locate tidbits of new information.
  • Become a keen observer. Notice those around you that have communication abilities that you respect. Talk to them about how well they relate to others. Copy those qualities that you admire. Perhaps you can find a mentor who will be your co-coach.
  • Identify one target you want to improve. For example, being more concise. Listen and analyze how others make their point. Monitor yourself three times a day.
  • Make your point in short, simple sentences without preamble or analogies. Do this every day for twenty-one days. It takes twenty-one days for a person to form a new habit. Practice in social as well as business settings.
  • Keep a diary of your progress. How do you feel when you communicate your objective clearly and concisely? How do others respond to your remarks? Are you repeating yourself less often? Are people asking for your input more often? Being succinct benefits the speaker and the listener.
  • When you are in a meeting and about to respond to an issue, pause. Ask yourself, "What do I really want to say now?" So often we respond in automatic pilot. Words come out too fast and we cannot retract them.
  • Pausing is one of the most effective ways to change old habits. It allows you time to move into a new frame.
  • Rehearse your remarks and you will improve your communication skills. A delayed response is often considered a thoughtful one. People will take you more seriously when your comments have clarity and focus. The more you practise this method, the easier and faster you will be able to edit your words.
The objective is to enhance your ability in a specific communication skill in small increments. Daily practice is necessary. This process takes time, you may be the only one who notices your improvement. The recognition can be subtle, the rewards great.

 

Communication Skills Score Card

Scoring


1 = low/not consistent
5 = high/very consistent

1. I am concise and get to the point without rambling.  1  2  3  4  5 
2. I listen without interrupting.  1  2  3  4  5 
3. I speak clearly and in a voice that is easy to hear.  1  2  3  4  5 
4. I do not assume I understand. I verify.  1  2  3  4  5 
5. I use a voice without sarcasm or frustration.  1  2  3  4  5 
6. I express disappointment in clear words.  1  2  3  4  5 
7. I am not defensive when others disagree.  1  2  3  4  5 
8. My nonverbal language matches my words.  1  2  3  4  5 



Bina Feldman is a corporate training consultant and communication skills expert specializing in personal & professional development.