Communication Skills | Relationship Advice


learn: 1. to gain mastery through serious study and disciplined practice. 2. to acquire knowledge, attitudes, skills, or strategies through study, instruction, or experience that causes a change of behavior that is persistent, measurable, and specific. 3. as it applies to this book, how you can become more flexible and effective regardless of the situation by mastering a wider range of communication styles.

You're Another Step Closer To Unleashing The Winner Within! Limited communication skills will limit the size of your audience and the variety of situations that you can perform in well. One of your primary objectives as a master communicator is to stretch yourself by learning a variety of new ways to communicate with others. That way, you'll be prepared to connect well with any person that you meet in your personal and professional life.

In its fifth and most widely-watched season, the popular musical talent show, American Idol, drew over 200 million viewers around the world for its two-hour final episode. In the end, Taylor Hicks, a 29-year-old Southern-style rhythm and blues singer from Alabama won a decisive victory over California's Katharine McPhee to be crowned that season's new American Idol.

While the show was once ridiculed as an over-hyped karaoke contest, the singing it features has evolved over the years into a more adventurous and stylistically diverse musical display. Some weeks of the competition involving Taylor Hicks presented musical themes centered around Motown, Rock, Broadway, Big Band, and Country in order to showcase the versatility of each contestant's talents. Exposing glaring weaknesses in any musical genre opened up the strong possibility of being eliminated from the competition.

The winner of that season's American Idol show was ultimately the person who captured the greater share of the over 63 million votes (That’s more than any American President has ever received!) which were cast during that final week. Taylor Hicks accomplished this by displaying a winning combination of musical diversity, charismatic showmanship, and personal likeability over the course of the entire multi-week singing competition.

Whether you're a contestant on the American Idol show or an average person talking with other people, the ability to communicate confidently in a variety of styles will make you more appealing to a wider audience. Developing new ways to interact with others through the work of this book will help you reach a greater number of people and allow you to feel more comfortable in a wider range of situations.


The difference between your present ability to perform a task and your performance in the future can be bridged through learning. As long as you stay committed to excellence, stretch yourself with new challenges, and find enjoyment in the process, you'll eventually learn your way towards more success in whatever field you choose.

In your quest for everyday communication success, there are many areas to master. As noted above, one of the key areas is in developing the flexibility to communicate effectively in a variety of styles. Unfortunately, most people possess only a limited communication range and therefore have just a small array of people who they can connect with well.

During my early years as a tour director, I had to learn how to communicate effectively with a variety of different people and age groups. Many tours that I lead were comprised of visitors to the U.S. including from such countries as Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Israel, etc. I also had to lead tour groups comprised of American clients including high school students, church members, college alumni, senior citizens, and business people.

Each group presented their own unique challenge in my effort to be a winning tour guide. For example, I had to be "cool and hip" with the high school kids, but professional and articulate with the business groups. With senior citizens, I had to be more mature in how I related, while foreigners really wanted to feel a sense of a deep passion from me about sharing our country with them.

One time, a church group from Los Angeles complained to the tour company that I was working for then about my inappropriate sense of humor and almost got me fired. In another instance, a group from San Antonio, Texas gave me almost no money in customary gratuities because they thought that I didn't care about them. In both cases, my ineffectiveness in relating personally to these people resulted in immediate negative feedback which, frankly, hurt my feelings. But I learned a lot by being thrown into the fire with these challenges, particularly about how it takes extra awareness and skill to broaden one's communication horizons.

Today, the progress that I made during my tour guiding days has helped me become more effective in my professional life as an author and speaker, and also a better communicator in my personal life. All that it's taken is a willingness to stretch my comfort zone and face the possibility of short-term pain with the promise of eventually getting better over time.


Understand that your greatest progress will not come from doing what is quickest and easiest for you. In order to increase your abilities, you'll have to challenge yourself by doing what might seem uncomfortable at first.

The following suggestions are designed to help you develop a wider range of communication styles so that you'll be ready for almost any situation that comes your way:

Meet lots of different people. Practice by conversing with everyone you meet. It could be with the cashier at the supermarket, people in line at the bank, someone at your doctor's office, a co-worker taking a coffee break, or a neighbor who is out walking their dog. How about trying a fun social activity like becoming a regular at a popular local eatery, joining a reading group, signing up for a guided tour of a local historic site, or taking a co-ed exercise class? Optimally, you'll want to meet people of different ages like kids and seniors, as well as people from other areas like foreign-born Americans or tourists from other states. The idea is to pick up lots of different speaking styles while you practice your own ability to communicate, overcome shyness, and build self-confidence. Talk less, listen more. This may be the simplest communication tip to implement. Just changing the focus away from you and towards the other person will instantly and dramatically improve your overall communication effectiveness. While you're practicing this new discipline, you will most likely get better at listening as well as pick up subtle ways of doing a more effective job of speaking.

Talk more if you're generally shy. Shyness is one of those things that you just have to bite the bullet on and "get over it." We all have moments or environments where we don't feel entirely comfortable and speaking up isn't something that comes naturally. But when shyness becomes your standard way of dealing with people, it strictly limits the quantity and quality of your relationships. For starters, get yourself into small, low-pressure conversations. Talk about simple things in life that everyone notices. Some good examples might be: "How bad is the traffic on your way to work?" "What do you think about this strange weather?" and "What about the outrageous price of gasoline?" Say a few words like these and then let the other person have a chance to talk.

Adjust your speed and volume for different effects. There are times when being selective about what you cover regarding your topic and/or speaking more quickly have their advantages. For example, when you're telling a story, it's important to skip through the unnecessary details in order to get to your point before your audience begins to tune you out. You also want to put energy and excitement into your voice as well to show others that you're genuinely excited about what you're talking about. On the other hand, there are times when you want to slow down your rate of speaking to show thoughtfulness or emotion. Or you will want to speak slower in order to connect better with people who have a natural tendency to talk at a more leisurely pace. In addition, your volume and speed need to vary at times in order to avoid having a boring monotone while you're speaking.

Develop skill and self-confidence by telling jokes. An indirect way of improving your communication skills is by learning how to tell a good narrative joke. Offering jokes will teach you how to tell a story quickly, describe a situation with freshness, and deliver the punch line with a straight face. A couple things to remember about telling jokes are to make sure that you don't offend others with the content and to refrain from laughing at your own joke before it's finished. You might also buy or rent a DVD of your favorite comedian in order to see how professionals skillfully tell jokes and funny stories to entertain audiences. You might pick up a few helpful tips on developing your own style of tasteful humor just from watching the pros through repeated viewings.

Practice a more formal way of speaking. When I was 10 years old, my family moved to Palos Verdes, an upper middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. I immediately began to notice how well-spoken the kids were who live there. I remember running into a classmate at a local restaurant one night who impressed the heck out of me when he smoothly introduced me to his parents by saying, "Dad and Mom, I'd like you to meet my friend, Steve Nakamoto. Steve and I are in the same math class together. Steve, this is my father and mother." By increasing your range into more formal areas, you'll have the style and skill to walk into a wider variety of social situations with more self-confidence and overall effectiveness.

Develop a more informal manner of speaking as well . Be sure that you can touch people with a casual style of conversing as well. The 20-year-old guys that I play beach volleyball with often greet me by saying simply, "Dude, what up?" Their style of talking is quick and light. When these young guys talk, they're in, they're out, and then they're moving on. And they usually try to leave you laughing or smiling. That's not a bad way to conduct a conversation when you have lots of places to go and tons of people to interact with each day.

Study or mimic other people's styles . The next time you turn on a television talk show, be sure to notice the way top-rated hosts communicate with their audiences. Whether you like to observe Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, or Montel Williams, begin to notice their facial expressions, hand gestures, changes in voice tones, as well as how they listen, ask questions, give compliments, and tell stories. When you have highly-effective communicators to model, you can quickly accelerate your growth by paying close attention and picking up valuable pointers along the way.

Commit to stretching your abilities by stepping out of and eventually expanding your comfort zone, and you'll be taking an active step in your learning process. Begin by paying attention to details and becoming more aware of how you can improve your communications. The next step is to create your own communication-expanding assignments so that you actually challenge yourself to do something in that direction. What you know intellectually will be of little or no value unless you take action while the ideas are fresh in your mind.


From the preceding list of suggestions, select one item that you can easily do today. Now find another item and make it an assignment to do something positive in that area tomorrow. Then, on a daily basis, check the list of suggestions and make it a task to accomplish one more objective each day.

Take a moment after each day and reflect on your efforts. What small thing did you learn in the process? In what ways could you be proud of yourself? Can you think of other ways unique to you that could help increase your communication range? If so, make it a specific assignment to learn about this during one of your next few days. Continue on your neverending cycle of self-improvement with the conviction that multiple benefits will naturally come your way over time.


Remember that in order to "talk like a winner" in the broadest sense, you must "learn like a winner" as well. All you have to do is follow a a simple and powerful rule: Stretch your communication range. Once you appreciate the significance of this essential part of successful communication, it's only a matter of playing around with the ideas, adding your own creativity, practicing with greater intention, and testing it every day in your own life until it becomes a natural part of you. If you fall in love with the process, it's really that easy!