There is something holding you back from becoming a better communicator. Something that that is keeping you from making better connections in meetings and keeping your audience from embracing your message. Do you know what it is?
It’s your mindset.
Too many of us think that being eloquent is a gift and either we have it or we don’t. We believe that either you are born a great speaker, a great listener or a great charmer or you weren’t. It’s this mindset that keeps many people from even trying to improve their communication skills, to begin with.
One of the best books I’ve read this year was a great read by Carol S. Dweck titled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Through her groundbreaking work, Dweck makes the point that people basically fall into two distinct groups, those who have a fixed mindset and believe we’re born talented, or a growth mindset and believe that talent can be developed. The second group is much more likely to be successful because they believe that whatever skills are required, are skills they can learn. The first group tends to believe that you either have it or you don’t.
There are few skills where this is more prevalent than the skill of communication.
Changing our mindset about our ability to communicate requires us to see the skill differently. Not as something that people are naturally talented at, but something that they’ve worked to develop.
I’ve experienced this first hand with people telling me how lucky I am to have been born with the gift of public speaking. If they knew how hard I had to work at it, they’d realize that it’s no gift at all. What looks like genius comes from practice, not natural talent.
This is freeing news for anyone that wants to become a better communicator. When we stop believing that great speakers are born, we begin to see how, with the right amount of coaching, development, and practice, we can achieve the same level of success.
In the time that I’ve spent coaching people in the areas of public speaking and communication, it’s been my experience that it’s those who consider themselves to be naturally talented speakers that usually struggle the most to connect with an audience, while those that see themselves as learning tend to excel. This is because those who see themselves as naturally talented tend to believe they have nothing left to learn and their skills can’t be further developed while the those with a growth mindset continue to learn new ways to improve.
It’s interesting that one the greatest orators in human history, Sir Winston Churchill, knew that preparation, not talent was the key to sounding like a genius.
If the man that mobilized the English language and sent it to war saw communication skills as something that could be developed and perfected with preparation, there’s hope for all of us to improve.