When I started my corporate career in 2013, I knew very little about the significance of presenting myself and talking to people and for me, communication skills or personality development were just part of the syllabus to be completed and marks to be scored in, rather than learning. My lecturer making me write long essays in class, on topics I used to never bother about, was an icing on the cake And trust me the entire time that I used to write, I struggled too much and I used to feel pity about my situation wondering if all this is required when I post on social media, as hashtags are enough right?
Today, while I am writing this and all that I have published earlier too, I have been enjoying the whole process of selecting the topic to write on, thinking how to structure, preparing a draft before finalizing and last but not least, counting on all the love, likes and comments I still have been receiving on my recent or old articles. Nothing motivates me more than knowing that people are reading my content and appreciating it as well!
And when I look back a few months ago, I remember what steps I took to improve my communication and hence my writing skills because trust me, I had no plan at all to write then, So, what did I do? Let’s check out.
I only did what most of us normally do, binge-watch, our favourite series during weekends and I didn’t miss it a day during the lockdown. And it was also at this time, that I used to miss staying alone, without my mom noticing what I am busy doing and hence not replying to her on WhatsApp. Well, thanks to Harvey Specter and Jessica Pearson for coming into my lives. For those of you who don’t know, they are my favourite characters from the very famous show ‘Suits’.
So, how did this help me? I used to love the way they spoke and I used to rewind an episode in the middle, for at least 3 or 4 times and then pause and practice speaking exactly like them to come up with that British accent, which I am still trying to learn. But in that process, I learned a lot about how incorrect I was sometimes in pronouncing many words that I was so familiar with and had been using in my communication very often.
I also got acquainted with a lot of unfamiliar words and so I would make a point to google them and try and understand the context in which those words were used.
I enjoyed doing all of these because of two things – one, of course, was that I liked the series and the other was, I wanted to learn to speak like them so that I’d be able to communicate well and this was better than struggling to read words from big fat dictionaries and forget them the next day as we did not learn to apply them anywhere due to the lack of English-speaking environment around us.
I had an English teacher in school who used to help students who took part in elocution or story-telling competitions and I still remember her giving a tip to prepare right before going on stage. So, the tip was to use the mirror or camera and speak something, like having a normal conversation with someone you have been wanting to speak to in your workplace so that the next time you meet them, you may be able to avoid that awkward silence.
While you are rehearsing, notice what expressions you are using, how confident you are while speaking, how much eye contact are you able to make with yourself, and then with others when actually speaking, typical Hindi-movie-proposal or first-date types, but very effective. I would suggest to video record your speech and keep listening to it on a repeat mode and judge where you need improvement.
A lot of these music apps like Spotify have the option of podcasts and I started following a lot of these in English. One of them is BeerBiceps, the other is from Pat Flynn and likewise a few other episodes and shows too.
Though a lot of them put me to nice sleep at times, a few of them also helped me learn the need for voice modulation, enthusiasm invoice along with the most important part, which is missed by a lot of us and that is to know where to take a pause and then continue again.
Reading books is a habit of the successful. While I wanted to experience the effect too badly, I never wanted to start with reading at all, I mean, if you are reading something you need focus and why should I focus on what Mark Manson thinks about living a good life in his first and very famous book, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’.
So, for a start, I borrowed this book, ‘The Power of Your Sub-Conscious Mind’, because I wanted to start with some positivity and hoped to continue that.
And let me tell you if that if you have never read, the book is damn simple to understand, which now makes me thank Joseph Murphy- first for writing this book and second, for explaining the sub-conscious concept so nicely. It was after I half-finished the book that I bought another book By Mark Manson and another one, ‘Alibaba – The House that Jack Ma Built’, by Duncan Clark.
So, here’s where I am today, connecting with people through my communication and writing.