I would like to share a tip that you might find useful while you have some extra time on your hands. Actually, this is also a good tip if you have decided it’s time for a shift and you believe that something needs to change, but you really don’t know where to start. Before my big shift, I always thought that people with great communication skills were born with those skills. Growing up in Slovakia, the culture there did not encourage or value communication skills—not even in college. We learned how to speak and communicate in whatever tone or emotion we felt in the moment, be it yelling, whispering, talking over each other, crying, laughing…you name it. Here in the U.S., there was one person in my life with whom I had difficulty communicating because he would always point out my “nonexistent” communication skills: incorrect posture, hands crossed over my chest, increased voice volume, not waiting for my turn to talk. This unconstructive criticism made me truly insecure about my communication skills. And since I believed that I was born without such skills in the first place, I concluded that I would never learn to be a proper communicator or speaker. To me, it felt as if I had grown up in the jungle and had no idea how to use silverware, so I was just eating with my hands. Meanwhile, the person who was criticizing my communication skills was properly using his silverware, while constantly pointing out my terrible manners. The sad part is that I truly thought he had been born with those skills and that I was seriously lacking.
The first thing I did, after my big shift, was to sign up for a three-day Public Speaking and Communication class. I was really pushing myself to step outside my comfort zone. There was no way I would have ever taken this class before, considering I was so scared of public speaking and felt as if I possessed no communication skills. On the first day, when our teacher walked in, no one even realized she was in the room. She was so quiet. I found myself questioning whether I should even stay. But once she got up, stood in the middle of the room, and started to talk—she was on fire, and she got me. She hooked me with her story; she said that she had been the shyest person in school, she always felt like an outsider, and she barely had any friends because she couldn’t communicate with anyone. Then one day, she decided to do Improv, and later, Theater. And now, she is a public speaking teacher! She had not been born with those skills; she had learned them! And then it clicked—another piece of the puzzle. You are not born with the proper communication skills—you learn communication skills! The person with the silverware, he wasn’t born with the proper skills; someone had taught him. He even had a communication degree! I wish he had thought to teach me, too, or at least suggested that I take some communication classes. Our lunches would have been so much more enjoyable.
After the three-day class, I really got hooked on Public Speaking and Communication classes. I continued with my self-learning, and I found a great online class on Udemy from Alexa Fischer—I highly recommend her online classes because she has such positive energy. I also recommend a wonderful book called Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall B. Rosenberg. Why I am recommending this class and the book? There are two reasons: first, if you want to make a shift in your life, even a small change, it will require some communication with your boss, your spouse, your children, your family, or your friends. Whatever you might decide upon for the next step in your life, it will most certainly require some communication. Plus, it is such an awesome skill to have handy. And second, once I started taking this class, other doors opened up, new ideas and intuitions were coming to me, and I met new people who wanted to help me and support my ideas. You never know when you might be invited for lunch or dinner, so you want to be ready to properly use the silverware.
I am very much looking forward to having lunch with you soon, so I can practice using my silverware. :)
“Communication is one of the most important skills you require for a successful life.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer