By David Nour

Take a moment and reflect on your communication skills. Just being aware of how you communicate is not sufficient; individuals must also be able to use this knowledge to achieve an outcome. Communication skills include self-presentation, the ability to express one’s ideas effectively, influenced by listening to – and hearing – responses, plus agility skills. Agility skills involve the combination of knowing how to communicate differently with different people and knowing how to adapt to evolving conditions. Some might be great at getting along with people of all types but unable to cope with change, which means they’ll be handicapped in such relationships. Likewise, we can be good at adapting to change but inflexible in dealing with certain people, therefore encountering many obstacles to success.

The good thing is all of these skills can be learned. You can learn to notice more and thereby increase your awareness. You can learn to listen well and communicate clearly, and you can learn how to read people and customize your responses to the way each person would best receive your communication, without losing touch with your authentic self. Also, you can learn to cope with and adapt to change.

The organizing factor here is the Desired Outcome. One simple way to make your relationships more productive today is simply to restate and agree on the Desired Outcome at the beginning of each venture. Try starting with, “To put today’s discussion in context, let’s review what we’re hoping to achieve through our dealings.” Then, as the individuals state and clarify their respective hopes and goals, they’ll clarify the focus and eliminate much of the irrelevant discussion.

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