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No More Ugly Duckling

Heather Grace. 09 February 2015, 9:47 pm
No More Ugly Duckling

Not everybody communicates with natural ease. Most of the time we don't think about how we are coming across to other people. But, if you've ever felt as if something has impeded you in making a point or expressing an idea, there is a phased approach one can take to become a more effective communicator.

Phase One: Ignorance is bliss

Most of us start off unaware of our communication abilities. We don't know what we don't know. We may even have irritating manners that hinder communication, but no one has pointed it out to us. The way you communicate right now may actually damage how others view you, but you are not aware of it.

Phase Two: Dawning Awareness

The moment you become aware of your communications problems is the first step you take towards making improvement. You may notice people don't reply to your emails, or the meeting you ran didn't spark any participation. You may notice people eager to interrupt, or that they give you too little or too much information in response to a question that just wasn't communicated clearly. If you want more effective communication with others, now is the time to act.

Phase Three: Ugly Duckling

You start to learn new communication skills. But then you realise that learning how to communicate effectively is not as straightforward as learning technical skills. You long for a step-by-step "how-to" guide, or a template to follow, where you perform the same series of mechanical tasks in the same order, every time. But communication skills are not like that.

Yes of course you can learn new communication skills, but there are no standard templates for dealing with human beings, because we are all different. An approach or response that proves effective with one person, may not be appropriate with someone else or in a different situation. It takes practice to get it right.

Learning communication skills is a bit like learning to drive a car. It feels awkward at first. When I was learning to drive, I remember feeling "How am I ever going to get all my arms and legs to be doing all the right things at the right time?" There are some hard and fast rules to driving, but as we all know, you need to adapt your driving style to different situations. Your vehicle will respond differently if the road is dry or wet. Some bends in the road can be deceptively sharp. Heavy traffic will cause other complications. When you are learning to drive you may over-correct going around a corner, or gather too much speed when heading down-hill. The same thing happens with communication skills.
During the learning phase you may feel a bit like an "ugly duckling". You know that if you master your new skills you will be able to fly smoothly through every interpersonal encounter - but right now you are hesitant, faltering and tripping over your words. Persistence is required!

Phase 4: The Natural

Just like driving a car, when you have been using your new communication skills for a while, it becomes second nature. Over time and with enough practice, you will apply your skills without effort. You get to a place where you don't even have to think about what to say next or how to say it. You adapt your skills to each situation intuitively, responding in the appropriate way with ease. Colleagues, customers, family and friends will respond to you more favourably.

In time, you will forget that you ever had to learn those skills - and find it hard to imagine why you found it so difficult at first. People that meet you for the first time will believe you were born with great communication skills; they will admire you and believe you are a natural communicator.

Success With Grace is home of the TechBiz Success Academy, specialising in helping technology based businesses grow. For information about TechBiz training and coaching please contact Heather Grace directly


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