There are many myths and assumptions about effective communication.
Here I dispel the top five I come across through my work:
Myth 1: Communication ability is innate. You’re either good at it or not.
Reality: Communication is a skill and like any skill it can be learned and developed, no matter what your starting point – as long as you’re willing to learn.
Myth 2: Communication is a soft ‘fluffy extra’. It’s nice but not essential to my success; my technical skills are more important.
Reality: Communication – the human connection – is key to personal and career success. It is as important as your technical skills. You don’t have to be able to do the technical work if you can empower your team to do the technical work.
Myth 3: If I’m good at my job, or have been promoted to a leadership position, I must know how to communicate and therefore don’t need to waste my time further developing these skills.
Reality: No one is a perfect communicator. Everyone can improve, even, and often especially senior executives. Many technically brilliant people are terrible communicators, as are many people promoted to leadership positions.
Myth 4: Other people need to communicate well with me in order for me to communicate well with them. If people didn’t anger, frustrate or upset me, I’d be a good communicator.
Reality: Good communication isn’t about other people, it’s about you. It’s an inside-out approach. Manage yourself and only then do you have a chance of managing – and connecting with – other people.
Myth 5: You have to be a certain type of person to communicate well (smart, educated, extroverted, confident).
Reality: Nope. Even nervous, uneducated introverts can communicate well if given the right foundations. Communication is about courage, not confidence.
Put simply, what you’ve been told and what you’ve assumed up until now is wrong. Soft skills are the new hard. In fact, soft isn’t soft at all.
What communication myth would you like to dispel?
Leah Mether is a communication and soft skill specialist. She helps people get out of their own way and works as a speaker, trainer, coach, facilitator and author. Find out more about Leah and her book ‘Soft is the New Hard: How to Communicate Effectively Under Pressure’ at https://leahmether.com.au.