Can I Coach Myself on Communication Style?

When it comes to being the eyes and ears of our own value, what do you think? Can you coach yourself on how you come across? to others? If you’re the typical attorney, you want to make sure you think about things that matter.

A few things to think about:

Oral communication isn’t the same as written. As writing allows for a marinade cycle for author to clarify content, structure and flow, communication relies on external sources to determine this value.

As attorneys are generally great writers, they often approach speaking the same way. With writing, they select choice words, tight construction and well-documented support. And that’s useful as a means of accomplishing structure and sharing useful information, as long as it works for the listener. Taking our time with molding the “best” content in writing can actually translate into lack of trust as a speaker, when we hold off from saying what’s top of mind until we are sure it’s acceptable.

Sure, you can try to think as your listener does, but we each have our own set of blinders limiting our view. Verbose statements and $100 words may not be effective orally. Get another set of eyes and ears to determine the simplicity of your comments and discover your ability to be trustworthy vs. overly guarded.

Effective communication requires as much energy as focus. From my desk I have learned that good writing comes from being “in the zone” – focused and intentional about my content. This is also the case for speaking well. But relying only on focus does little for audience engagement.

Energy isn’t a usual by-product from writers, let alone attorneys. Standing up and addressing a group certainly creates a biological/neurological response in our systems that heightens adrenaline, revving up our energy, but often we work to “control” it instead of use it. Unless our listeners are as focused on what we have to say as we are, curbing our energy can create problems. Instead, experiment with how to use the energy in your voice, your eyes, your meaningful gestures. Let that energy keep you alive to what your listeners are thinking. Seek their perspective, invite their experiences and involve them in your message. Learn how to communicate while getting out of your own way.

Get outside perspective on how your delivery style impacts listeners. Especially if upcoming circumstances are making you anxious.

Are you initiating a tough conversation because of your leadership position? Your message is no doubt an important one. Get feedback on your words and your approach before you deliver the message to the intended audience.

Are you slipping in closing the sale? Seek perspective regarding your appeal.

Back to the question of whether we can coach ourselves on our own communication style. My answer is “no”. None of us get where we are today because of our own efforts. We move forward with our communication when we get out of our own way, seek feedback from others and continually debrief.

Individual communication coaching

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