As a non-native English speaker, I’ve struggled with my communication a lot over the years. This is especially true if you are working in a global team.
I realised this when I moved to the US for the first time in my life. Communicating was a struggle. Instead of working on it, I’d try and avoid conversations. Over time, I’ve taken a conscious effort to improve my communication.
There is no magic pill here. It’s simple but requires consistency.
Here are a few things that have helped me over time.
Read more – This is obvious. But don’t restrict yourself. Read a variety of topics – like philosophy, science, economics or anything else you like. It helps you widen your thoughts.
Write – Write about something you learned. It need not be unique or novel. Learn to articulate what is in your thoughts on a page. Write about your life experiences. They are unique most of the time and add value to someone else’s life.
Improve your vocabulary – Take a conscious effort to improve your vocabulary. Learn new words and try to use them in your everyday conversations. The best words are the ones everyone knows, but use seldom. Adding 50 more words to your daily vocabulary can do magic.
Steal like an artist – Don’t stop with words. If you find a nice sentence you can use in your everyday conversations, steal it. Use it and make it yours.
Eliminate fillers – Not just the uh, umm sounds. But also the “you know”, “like” etc. If you observe yourself, you will see there are a lot of words you use unnecessarily. I use “I think” and “IMO” a lot.
Observe – Pick a topic. Talk about it. Record yourself and watch. List out the things you want to improve – work on those one at a time. Form a feedback loop, and repeat that forever. Deliberate practice and consistency will fix most things.
Think in English – This is very important. I used to think in my mother tongue and convert sentences into English. It is hard. Once you learn to think in English, you will have a better flow of words. When you are overthinking next time, use English.
Confidence – When I’m anxious, I’m a bad speaker. When I’m confident, I’m pretty good.
My communication is far from perfect. But I’ve improved a lot from where I started. Good communication skills can help you with all verticals of your life.
Here is a list of curated blog posts to read to improve workplace communication: