There’s a common misconception that people are either born with the ability to communicate well, or they’re not. While some people may seem innately natural in communicating, it might come down to what their personal values are. If one of their values is ‘communication’, then it’s natural that they’d already be prioritising this as one of their skill sets. If it’s not, it’s completely understandable that they haven’t previously taken as much time to practice the ‘how’ of communication, or understanding the importance of it.
The good news is that communication is a buildable skill, which (I believe) requires two things.
- Emotional intelligence – another skill that can be cultivated. Having and practicing emotional intelligence (or EQ , as opposed to IQ, which is generally fairly set at it’s level) gives us the ability to understand another a little more naturally, and the emotional maturity to understand the importance to practice responding rather than reacting. This response-ability is key in how receptive we are to hearing and sharing for understanding.
- Willingness to practice – and learn, and mess up, and try again. Like anything, we’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. Practicing communication requires a willingness to be okay with getting it wrong from time to time. Most often it seems to be fear that stops us from wanting to try, because we’re not sure what will happen if we do stuff up, or come across wrong, or feel misunderstood (or misunderstand another). The beauty here is once we can acknowledge that, we get to acknowledge that these misunderstandings simply require the willingness to a) ask more questions, and b) ask to take space when we need to process for understanding.
The greatest service we can do for ourselves is to allow (and encourage) ourselves to try to communicate better and clearer each time, even when it feels like a struggle. There’s nothing quite like feeling understood and feeling satisfied with the clarity in which we’ve shared.
The greatest disservice we can do for ourselves is to become complacent and assume that there’s only one way to communicate, that we don’t need to learn more, or re-adjust, especially when a message isn’t coming across clearly (or at all). It’s important to acknowledge that we’re doing the best we can, when we are, but to tell ourselves that we know it all ultimately holds us back, leading us into perpetual frustration.
Communication can have it’s uncomfortable moments, the moments where we feel that grip in our stomach to do so, but it’s worth working through and honouring our own voice and expression. If not for our interpersonal relationships, but for our relationship with ourselves.