Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Lemur
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Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by Lemur » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:27 pm

Hey guys/gals,

I'm sure some of you guys have had careers/jobs/gigs/business opportunities or other positions where verbal communication is a must and a highly regarded skill among your peers. This is something that as a INTJ/INFJ (could never figure out which) has always been a 'weakness' for me as it is something that doesn't come naturally. I do believe this is a skill that can be practiced and one can get better at and I've proven that through my own experience. Another thought - extroverts as a byproduct of their nature have just gotten a lot more practice!

From barely handling conference calls (losing sleep) managing client calls and giving status updates to another client once a week and even lecturing a course once (that went semi-okay), I've made great strides over the past 2 years but I really want to hone in on this skill and get a lot better because I've an internal motivation to conquer this path but also an external motivation because my position requires this to be effective. In hindsight, I can think of many situations in my current career that could have went a lot better and smoother had I had the networking and oral communication skills.

Why I want to conquer this skill? Well a big part of it is because I'm probably not going to be retired anytime soon (7 years at the least....15/16 at the most?) so for me, getting better at this will increase income opportunities and secondly this will make the accumulation phase more 'fun.' One has fun when they're good at something and confident and not when they're riddled in anxiety.

I actually think the company I work for (a big 4 accounting firm) encourages 'Toastmasters' so I thought about doing that. I think that is a good start but I made this thread to gather any advice, recommended resources, and discussions on your own experience is welcome.

Scott 2
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:48 pm

My wife did toastmasters through her company. It covers much of what you are looking for. Essentially regular practice with some limited guidance on growth and feedback. If your company doesn't offer a chapter, I'd look for one associated with your profession.

Keep in mind that if a lot of verbal communication is not in your nature, it's ok to build your career around tasks that don't involve it, even if they are not as prestigious or highly compensated. I say this as someone who went down a Project Manager path even though I am as introverted as they come. I am much happier doing other work now.

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Lemur
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by Lemur » Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:25 pm

@Scott 2

Good to hear your spouse enjoyed toastmasters. I don't think I've come across a single negative comment about toastmasters in all my blog reading. That is rare...

Its an interesting conundrum and one that gives me a bit of cognitive dissonance - on one hand, I could just work a more simpler role with less responsibilities & more free-time but my savings rate would reduce drastically (I quite possibly could be happier?) or I could continue a corporate career path that already has me close to making 6 figures (currently make $90k) with still very much more upside. The latter is much more stressful though...but is it only stressful because I don't have the confidence for excellence at the moment due to oral communication skills and other skills that need work? A quick example - if I traded roles right now with my senior manager, my job would be like a beach vacation to him and his job would be lost in 2 weeks lol.

But you do bring a good point and I have purposely planned taking on projects that involve mostly data analysis but my job is still very much client facing so if I gotta do it, I ought to do it well...

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:29 pm

I was a chartering member of the Toastmasters chapter at my last company. It was a great experience and definitely took me out of my comfort zone.

I used to get anxiety even having to go around a room and introduce myself with anything other than my name, now I communicate/present for a living. It has definitely been life changing to say the least. Always been somewhat extroverted, but had anxiety and fear of speaking to groups/crowds.

Falling into a professional sales career has also given me a ton of practice over the past 5 years, and before that I was working in retail management, which also involved a LOT of communication with employees and customers. It's definitely something you can vastly improve with practice. Now I find that it comes much more naturally, but I also get burned out and go super introverted to recharge the batteries, so much so that I'm not sure what I consider myself anymore. Bipolar?

Scott 2
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:29 pm

Not to discourage the skills development, it's a great idea. A little more thought on the paths available though:

I can fully relate to heavy work communication causing rebound introversion. At one point, working as a project manager in a marketing agency, I would regularly interact with 30+ people per day. My evenings were spent in the basement, hiding in video games to recover.

Now, I don't talk to that many people in a month. I love it. My earnings growth has not been as fast, but it's still offered plenty of runway. Switching companies and roles made it possible. Both changes offered significant improvement. The more I aligned my work with my personality, the easier it was to excel.

I like this book for a discussion of the value you can offer as an introvert:

https://books.google.com/books?id=uyjf3 ... ng&f=false

I did have to give a five minute presentation to 120 people this year. It wasn't good. I'll probably have to do it twice a year moving forward. I'll do better, but am ok with not being awesome. While it holds me back, the alternative would mean more work I don't enjoy.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:36 am

Scott 2 wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:29 pm
I can fully relate to heavy work communication causing rebound introversion.
This has happened to me as well... and I'm naturally extroverted. It's had a pretty horric impact on my happiness because I want/need to be around people in a social setting, but just can't handle it anymore since work has me so worn with social contact.

daylen
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by daylen » Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:38 pm

Within the cognitive function frame, it is unlikely you are an INFJ if you have minimized communication to the extent that you say. Fe can be thought of as people interfacing. Fe is the second strongest function for the INFJ, so they would tend to mirror the behavior and language of those around them. Te is more about object interfacing, so an INTJ would prefer to interact with inanimate systems as opposed to other humans.

Generally speaking.

chicagocpa
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Re: Improving soft skills in verbal communication etc...

Post by chicagocpa » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:28 pm

Lemur - I am a former big four accountant who is an introvert. On audit engagements, I remember being stressed out about having to make confirmation phone calls to banks. I was easily impressed by colleagues who confidently put the phone on speaker mode in front of everyone and have a conversation with the client/partner.

3 things helped me:
1) I did toastmasters for a while. About 6-12 months.
2) To prepare for speeches, I would split it up into 3 sections a) content & ease of messaging, 2) physical delivery (body language), 3) tonation (how I say it, what I emphasize, when I pause). I would video record myself and then review separately for each of these things. It sounds robotic but no one could tell. I used this system and practiced my speech about 25 times when I needed to present in front of a 500 person department. I also recommend practicing over at least 2 days. Trying to cram this in 1 day is too hard. (I got this idea by the way from Arnold Schwarzenegger and his preparation for his United Nations speech)
3) Saving enough money where I just stopped giving a crap. Once I had a decent net worth, I just stopped worrying about being fired or judged at work.

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