Monday, October 28, 2013

Improve Yourself 10: Refine Your Communication Skills

Crucial Conversations bookcoverThis continues our series on improving yourself to get the biggest raises and the best promotions

Jacob grew up a very quiet child. He spent most of his youth playing video games and surfing the Internet. He home-schooled with his two brothers. He enjoyed solitude, sculpting, and reading. As a result, he did not develop strong conversational or verbal communication skills. He volunteered at a local community program where the staff helped him develop this crucial skill. They coached and encouraged him. They engaged him in conversations. They assigned him to call clients of the program. Within a year he improved his conversational skills. The skills prepared him for a new job and a better career.

Importance of Conversations

Conversation and verbal communication are disappearing from the workplace. A generation or two of workers grew up texting, emailing, playing interactive online or video games. Companies discover many employees cannot maintain business or casual conversations with clients, co-workers, or supervisors.

Improving your conversations may be one of the most important changes you make. Communication and conversations affect your work, your reputation, your co-workers, and your family. You may need to improve the following aspects of how you communicate:

  • Your tone of voice may sound more timid, harsh, or contentious than you believe
  • Your face may express happiness, anger, frustration, deceit, humor, or sincerity
  • Your words may confuse, upset, hurt, clarify, communicate, or demean

Suggestions for Conducting Crucial Conversations

We have posted before about the concepts taught in Crucial Conversations written by Kerry Patterson and his colleagues at VitalSmarts. We strongly recommend you

  • Read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
  • Sign-up for the free resources on the VitalSmarts book section
  • Watch the videos listed on the free resources site
  • Watch the webinars listed on the site
  • Let the questions on the PDF probe your understanding of the material
  • Study the model graphic, hang it somewhere to prompt you as needed
  • Discuss the tools outlined in Crucial Conversations with others
  • Practice the tools repeatedly to perfect them

Wednesday we explore how to the 9 keys to improve your business relationships

This blog will improve as you submit comments, questions, and experiences. We will answer your questions in future blog posts. Please submit your comments and questions so we can answer them.

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