So what might I do with this communication information? Individual reflection on your listening, inquiry and advocacy, and constructive feedback skills is a good place to start. Informally you can assess your communication strengths and deficits just by asking yourself, “What communication strategies have I used that have been most effective when I am interfacing with people, either personally or professionally?” With self-evaluation most of us can accurately identify what communication skills are our strengths and which ones we need to improve.
Beyond individual reflection there are many assessments available with which you can informally assess your communication strengths and weaknesses. The TTI DISC Behavior Profile8 allows you to see how your communication styles positively impact how you work with others and areas where you might get yourself in trouble while communicating with others.
When we recognize our communication weaknesses, we should take steps to improve these communication areas, whether through formal or informal methods. Discussing with our team how we communicate and our preferred methods of being communicated to is important. Proactive communication can reduce a great number of team conflicts down the road. The following examples provide additional suggestions that individuals might use to improve their communication skills.
- Practice, practice, practice—most people take communication for granted. Effective communication takes a conscious effort at continual enhancement and refinement. Get your team members to help you identify your strengths and deficits in communicating.
- Take a formal assessment, such as the TTI DISC Behavior Profile, to evaluate your behaviors and communication within a professional setting.
- Determine if you want to make changes in your communication style. You may wish to speak with your professor about opportunities available to you through your department, college, or university.