The ability to communicate is a very important skill that too many of us ignore. This doesn’t necessarily mean the ability to give a formal speech without any grammar errors.
It means being able to take a thought in our head and convey that message to others. It could be in a negotiation, during a sales pitch, or even pouring out your heart for the one you love.
Years ago, as I was reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, I read something that has stuck with me for years. He said, “The ability to sell – to communicate to another human being, be it a customer, employee, boss, spouse, or child – is the base skill of personal success.”
The idea that a financial guru put so much emphasis on communication was a little surprising. But as I started out on various entrepreneurial quests I started to understand what he meant and realize the direct connection between communication and money.
If the ability to communicate is so important, what can we do to improve? How can we start to become better communicators?
Luckily there are numerous methods of achieving this. First, plenty of colleges have classes on communication, English, negotiation skills, sales tactics, etc. This can give a formal overview of communication and dive into specific situations that matter to us.
There is a group that has existed for decades whose sole purpose is to improve communication skills. Toastmasters International is a group that meets regularly to help members become better speakers. I was involved in this group for years and I still rely on the skills I improved on a daily basis as a member of Toastmasters.
But it isn’t enough to just learn about communication. We have to form the necessary habits to improve. By focusing at the habitual level, we can start to lock into an improved communication style and better communicate to others in all areas of life.
Benjamin Franklin started a similar group during his time. He called in the Junto. In his autobiography he speaks to the value of this group and the importance of communication skills and habits when he says, “And the club continu’d almost as long and was the best School of Philosophy, Morals and Politics that when existed in the Province; for our Queries which were read the Week preceding their Discussion, put us on Reading with Attention upon the several Subjects, that we might speak more to the purpose: and here too we acquired better Habits of Conversation, every thing being studied in our Rules which might prevent our disgusting each other.”
Most people acknowledge the importance of communication skills but don’t work to improve them over time. They view them as static, unchanging aspects of who we are. But this isn’t true.
We can all improve our ability to communicate. We can learn new methods and focus on better connecting with our audience or better explaining our point of view. We can learn how to motivate others, how to sell an idea, and how to make use of the Socratic method.
But the key is to take this knowledge and turn it into habit so that you can utilize these skills on a daily basis and call them up quickly and easily in conversation. This will give you an enormous advantage in life, whether it is interviewing for a job, closing a big sale, or pitching your startup to an investor.
But being a great communicator is rarely due to happenstance or luck and more aligned with working for years to improve our habits. So learn to hone these skills using the systems and habits approach to improvement and slowly growing our abilities over time.