When is it Time to Upgrade Your Communication and Influence Skills?
We manage our everyday work and personal lives, communicating perfectly well, thank you, and generally do fine with it. People are flexible, we make requests that are clear enough, things get done. Why would we want to mess with something that’s working?
Here are some of the signs that it’s time for an upgrade.
- Personal and professional growth. When you’re ready for more responsibility, you would be wise to take inventory of what’s working and what could be better.
- Are you an effective delegator?
- How do you do when it’s time to say no to someone?
- How comfortable and successful are you at influencing other levels on behalf of your team?
If you’re at this kind of growth stage, how would you know what to work on?
Seek out a system that can give you feedback and direction, whether it is a skills inventory, a conversation with a trusted advisor, or a system like Syntax that gives you a chance to survey a broad set of skills and design a learning path.
In some organizations, you have access to learning programs, and sometimes, you have to seek them on your own. There are courses, there’s toastmasters, there are coaches. Invest in your future by paying attention to the process skills that will take you beyond merely adequate performance in your new role or new stage of growth.
- When the organization or people you know present you with new approaches that you can play with.
Learning opportunities abound, that will help you find out what you don’t know that you don’t know.
We have such strong confirmation biases and comfort zones that there is a lot of inertia in our modes of operation. Those who continue to learn are scanning for new insights and practices.
With many learning opportunities, there are also networks of people who help broaden your perspective and give you support along the way. When we are so focused on our current goals that we can’t look up and around, it’s time for a re-set of some kind.
- Yes, the default option: When there’s a breakdown.
Sad but true. We wait until there’s no other option. When you are truly up against it, and maybe up against other people, and the frustration is grabbing your attention, then it’s definitely time to take new action. You might start by talking with a trusted friend or a coach to get a handle on what you need to do.
Usually that includes taking inventory of yourself and owning your part of the breakdown. That gives you an idea of where to look at your own skills and perhaps your resistances to changing.
To sum up, you can find the resources for learning easily enough. If you don’t seek fresh input and opportunities to practice with feedback, you lose your edge, and maybe even become complacent.
We don’t learn a set of communication skills and then we’re done. Most of us feel less motivated when we are not expanding our knowledge, skills, and impact. Be proactive; don’t wait for the breakdown to be so big that it is costly for you and others. If you are already there, reach out to a friend or a coach.
If you’re actively on your learning path, congratulations! If you are not, it may be time to send yourself back to class!