What is the most important skill for success?, asked I to a student of mine and he replied ‘Communication’. ‘Communication is the single most attribute that can make a huge difference to the way one is perceived.’ He added sagely that he worked at his communication skills and ensured that it is always clear and concise. Interestingly he mentioned that speaking alone is not communication, there is a lot more to it. ‘One can use any medium like music, dance, theatre, design, speaking or writing to communicate.’
Now that made quite an impression on me. How often have I introspected on my skills in communication? What efforts have I taken to improve them? I somehow felt that the young man definitely had a better game plan and a better skill set in his quiver.
Well some pointers to improve one’s skill at communication would be
*Consistency in practice
When I started this blog I clearly knew that it was to take me closer to my childhood dream of becoming a writer. But it is consistency in writing that has helped me shed many of my inhibitions in writing.
A young man who is into writing scripts and film making, advised me recently, ‘Just keep at it regularly, the writing will flow’. I liked what he said as I know for sure that, especially after attending the ‘Introduction to Psychology’ on Coursera that new neurotic pathways form and get better and stronger with practice.
How cool is that one can excel at almost anything with regular effort. Sounds great, right!
Exposure to good language definitely helps one become better at it. Now what can be done for that? Definitely, reading. Reading more and more helps one to improve language, expand vocabulary and thus enabling better communication.
(A word of caution! I did read recently that addiction to the digital screen is a serious impediment to improving one’s communication skills.)
*Better body language
Now, language whether spoken or written is not the only tool for communication. In fact majority of communication is non verbal that means one needs to be aware of the use of gestures, pauses, head nods and what not while trying to communicate effectively.
Writing regularly does help in improving communication. What writing does is to give an individual clarity of thought, it sort of filters out the confusions and enables one to be more coherent in communication.
Listening is indeed the best way to pick up communication at least the speaking part of it. And that’s how we pick up our mother tongue or our first language which most of us speak rather fluently.
In cases where there is no natural environment to listen and learn, one can still listen to music, watch films, listen to audio books, ted talks and more in order to pick up the language and eventually improve one’s ability to communicate effectively.
When it comes to non verbal communication one has to learn by observation. Again there is enough literature available freely to read up on the significance of non verbal communication.
By nonchalance I mean that ability to speak even when one is not fluent or reasonably good at the language. In other cases, say writing, one has to still try and write and not wait to have the spirit of Shakespeare or Tagore, or Emily Dickinson to inhabit you before you put up a single word outside.
If you really want to pick up any skill whether it is communication or any other, try doing it anyways, and just ignore the indifference, if any.
Just remember that ignorance of any language is not a barrier to communication.
Language is a tool that enhances communication. So use it well.
Definitely it is a big deal to be able to communicate effectively, not surprisingly though, most leaders are also great communicators. And that is not mere coincidence!
In general when we talk about communication, we only refer to the spoken and written form of it, but as the young man mentioned art does communicate, doesn’t it?
I am sure you will agree working on one’s communication skills is indeed worth some effort! Just don’t forget to enjoy the process.