Practice Practice Practice
What three things can you do to improve your communication skills?
#1 Practice is the only path
There is no secret sauce, there is no shortcut, there is no cheat sheet. For those who are serious about being good at ANY skill, the only path leads through regular practice. Your practice should include two things:
Fundamental Skills - In every area of expertise there are fundamentals. There is a baseline of core skills that, once mastered, become the foundation for your full skill set. In basketball: pass, dribble, and shoot. In golf: driver, irons, and putter. In communication the fundamentals to practice are: state your intentions, ask powerful questions, and listen and reflect. Build your practice regimen around fundamentals and you will grow in confidence AND competence! Your goal in this practice is to do the repetitive actions that drive unconscious competence … that means it is natural and “easy” for you to execute these skills.
Variations of Fundamentals - Once you have built your foundation around the fundamentals, you can expand your practice outside your comfort zone. Add variations to the skills you have developed. Work on slightly different ways to reach the same outcome. For example, in golf, once you can hit your 7 iron consistently 175 yards and straight, then work on using a draw. In sales, once you have developed confidence explaining your company's value proposition, you can practice communicating it in a high D style or a high S style. … As your skill set grows you will find new ways to execute that will build and enhance your skills.
#2 Practice with peers
Skill development requires feedback. You have to know what you are trying to do with the practice and then have a feedback loop that tells you if you executed correctly. This is why teams practice together, why individual athletes watch other athletes practice, and why golfers video tape their swings and review their film. Working with peers, coaches and video capture gives you the feedback loop you need to make adjustments and corrections required to build skills.
#3 Practice until you cannot get it wrong
“It’s like riding a bike” That old saying is intended to mean that once you have the skill mastered, you can pick it back up with hesitation. Once you know how to ride a bike well, the basic skill is there and you don’t “lose” it if you don’t practice. If you haven’t ridden a bike for 20 years, you can pick up a bike, start pedaling, and cruise all over the neighborhood (well, you might be sore afterwards, but that’s a topic for another blog!) This is huge when you think about communication skills that have a positive impact on your life … once you have them mastered, they will be with you for life. Just be careful with this one, you won’t be as good as you used to be if you haven’t practiced for 20 years 😃
The Communication Gym is here to provide a space where you can practice one of your most important life skills: communication. Join us @ The Gym. Your communication muscles will thank you. Learn more about our Peer Practice Groups here.