We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges. – Joyce Meyer
Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable Communication
If you want to improve your communication skills and become a more confident communicator there is one skill you need to begin with, and it may be one of the most challenging.
We’ve all had some recent experience in the demands of doing new things this year. Like many, I didn’t even have a Zoom account in early 2020 – now I’m an expert and have taught others how to best engage and supervise remotely.
But Doing New Stuff is Hard
But, the reality is, unless we have no choice (e.g. the pandemic), we tend to repeat what we are comfortable doing. That means we often put off trying something new because it feels hard and it’s out of our comfort zone. That is why when it comes to communicating well, you need to work towards doing or saying something that you are not very comfortable with.
Think about the first time you spoke in front of a group or drove a car. You were probably nervous and felt uncomfortable. Yet, by repeating the activity, you were able to expand your comfort zone and learn a new skill.
It’s the same with all new skills. Sometimes you just need to try it – even though it doesn’t feel comfortable at first. You’ll find that the more you practice, the easier new skills will become. This is especially true with communication.
Having the necessary courage to have tough conversations may be uncomfortable at first. You will only improve if you start. Soon you’ll find that the uncomfortable will become more comfortable.
Fun Fact: Getting Uncomfortable Boosts Energy
When you do something that is outside of your comfort zone, it actually boosts your energy and makes you want to do it more. It also grows your confidence! If you aren’t getting outside of your comfort zone you aren’t learning and growing confident.
Small steps will add up to big changes over time. If you find yourself struggling to take a step forward ask yourself:
- What might I be missing out on if I don’t face my fear of doing something new and uncomfortable?
- What am I afraid of?
- What’s the worst thing that can happen if I try this?
- What’s the best thing that can happen if I try this?
Now, go out there and try it this week. No procrastinating is allowed. Muster up some courage and just do it. Then, assess how it went, learn from the experience, and then try again. It gets easier each time. I promise.
Practice Hard and Uncomfortable Things
Pick a communication challenge – something that you are nervous about doing or that’s clearly out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s starting a conversation with your boss, asking for something you need from someone, or admitting to someone that you were wrong.
Practice what you will say and how you will say it first. Then, take a deep breath through being uncomfortable, use good eye contact and have the conversation you need to have. The more you practice, the less uncomfortable it gets. It’s really that simple.
More Communication Tips
If you’d like to learn more ways to become a more confident communicator you can find more in 52 Communication Tips. It’s a great tool to use for self-development, in weekly staff meetings, or at family dinners to begin to improve your communications skills, one tip at a time.
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, including 52 Communication Tips and Intentional Gratitude.