It’s a new year and a great time to commit to becoming a better communicator. This article is a sample of the exclusive content I provide each week to those who receive my newsletter.
While rarely kept, many people make New Year’s resolutions to guide them in making the new year a better year. In this article, let me offer one possibility.
Become a Better Communicator in 2017
While that might not sound like an exciting resolution, the truth is better communication can legitimately help you find a new job, get a promotion, and improve your relationships. And that is just the start.
So why not make becoming a better communicator your resolution for 2017? Let’s face it, while exercise is great for you, you will probably stop taking advantage of that new gym membership before the end of February. You don’t have to go anywhere specific or work up a sweat to become a better communicator. It does, however, require a little work.
Making Better Communication a Habit
What would it take to make better communication a habit? Let me share a few ideas drawn from academic research in building habits. What is particularly great about these ideas is that they are actually part of the Intelligent Communication/Smart Talk model. Let’s look at three specific tips to building and maintaining a better communication habit.
Goals and Quotas
The first tip contains two ideas: big goals and small quotas. We need a big goal to motivate us and give us something to strive for. What could your communication goal be? I want to develop skills to close more deals. I want to improve my relationship with my spouse and/or my children by becoming a better listener/communicator. Or, I want to parlay my improved communication skills into a promotion at work. Make it yours. Choose a goal. Write it down. Review it daily.
We cannot achieve a big goal in one day. But, we can achieve a small quota designed to help us move closer to that goal. Set daily quotas of actions you will take to help you reach your goal. You can start small and expand and/or adjust these quotas as your communication skills improve. Again, make these quotas personal and related to your big goal. I will spend 15 minutes a day listening to each of my children tell me about their day. I will schedule and take 15 minutes to plan how I will communicate prior to important meetings and/or other professional conversations.
Note that the idea of goals and quotas is built into the Smart Talk model. In Smart Talk, we set a goal for our interactions with others. This is our big goal. We also set interim objectives. These are smaller goals that move us closer to our goal as we achieve them. Interim objectives are like small quotas.
Planning and Process
The second tip involves planning and process. Failure in these concepts is a key contributor to people not maintaining new habits. First of all, we need to plan. This is reflected in the first tip, where we set a big goal and small quotas. It is important, however, to ensure our plan is not simply fixated on the big goal. A plan overly fixated on the big goal may break down as we experience delays in achieving that goal. Sure, we want to keep our eyes on our big goal, but there is another concept that should dominate our planning.
Plan a process to achieve the big goal and little quotas. Using a process that will lead to our big goal is something we can do every day. As we do, we celebrate little successes that keep us motivated towards achieving our big goal. Intelligent Communication provides such a process. If you are a graduate of one of my training seminars, you know the process. It is the Smart Talk model. To begin working on becoming a better communicator in 2017, you simply need to use the process daily. If you do not know the process or need a refresher, I can help you with that as well. I’ll let you know at the end of this article.
Avoid the “What the Hell Effect”
This is another habit breaker you need to avoid. Too often we fail in maintaining a new habit…a day…then a week. We then decide “screw it,” and give up. Using little quotas along with our big goals can help us avoid this effect, because we are experiencing little successes most days.
What about when we fail to practice good communication skills? You don’t listen carefully to your spouse and it leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings. You yell at your children, then later realize you were wrong because you didn’t clearly communicate what you wanted them to do. Or, perhaps, a deal falls through because you didn’t plan sufficiently and select the right arguments geared to persuade the particular customer. Events like these should not lead us to abandon our goal to be better communicators, but remind us of its importance.
The Intelligent Communication approach can help you get back on track after communication breakdowns. You can use the model to review the interaction that went badly and identify the specific area in which you fell short. Once identified, you can create a small quota to practice this area. You will quickly experience some small successes and get back on track.
Begin the Better Communication Habit Today
It has often been said that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Research, however, has debunked this idea. But, 21 days provides a good start to creating a habit. I have created an Intelligent Communication/Smart Talk email course that consists of ten lessons over 21 days. These lessons teach/review the Smart Talk model and provide practical exercises to help you begin building a good communication habit.
If you would like to start building your communication habit, simply go here to sign up. If the course is not available
Have a Happy and Productive New Year
I hope you have a great and productive 2017. One more thought that might help you in the new year. Each day, I share articles on communication and productivity on my various social media sites. You can get these by connecting with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Click on the icons at the top or bottom of the page to following Intelligent Communication on social media.
Be swift to hear and slow to speak,