Living Strong Abroad: Communication Deep Dive
Communication is one of my top 5 talents according to the Clifton StrengthsFinder. I see it clearly in so many stages of my life. Communication as a talent could show up in many ways depending on the other talents around it. You may be a brilliant fantasy writer or of technical manuals. You might be fabulous speaking to an audience or at describing things in vivid detail — painting a picture in people’s minds with your words. Mine has always had a bit to do with storytelling and also being a verbal processor.
As a kid, I was the student most likely to be seated right next to the teacher’s desk to keep me from talking too much in class. In fact, if there was one constant on my report cards throughout my early school years, it was “If she would just stop talking…” or some equivalent thereof. What can I say? I liked to talk; I still do.
As I went through school, it also meant I became a voice for others. My Command talent aids in this manifestation. I can recall two specific moments in my high school career that illustrate this perfectly. First, during student elections, all the people around me wanted to ask questions of the candidates, and one question to one candidate in particular. I was being nudged by all sides to do the asking. So, I did; I stood up, asked if we could question the candidates and then I asked what apparently was a very controversial question. No more questions were allowed to be asked and I landed in the vice-principal’s office with the purpose of explaining myself. I did, and was let off with only a warning. I was also told it was better for me to gossip to get my thoughts out… I never quite got that one.
The next example I remember also had me head to the vice-principal’s office, but for a very different reason this time. As I was headed down the stairs — wondering what I had possibly done this time — I ran into my English teacher. She asked if I was headed to see Mr. Jackson and I said yes. She then explained she was the one sending me there to talk about an event involving another student in our class. I was to speak as a witness of said event and she figured of the four girls nearby what had happened, I’d be the least embarrassed to do so and would have no problem sharing.
As I moved into my professional life, the talent of Communication continued to be very present. In the restaurant industry I was known for my mouth-watering descriptions of the specials and usually had the highest sales rates of special dishes among staff. In the wine industry, people loved my down-to-earth way of describing the wines and providing entertaining facts and anecdotes instead of dry, technical details. In the corporate world, I was again, the voice for many. When there were issues and people wanted answers, I was the go-to girl to get them.
Another way I see Communication ever present, is in my need to talk through problems and thoughts. If I stay in my head — or even writing it on a piece of paper — I get lost in all the details and can’t get to clarity. However, just talking about what is on that piece of paper or what’s in my head, I often solve whatever issue is at hand. The mere act of talking through it with someone, or explaining it to them, I cut through the muck and clarify my thought.
I also desperately need dialogue. I love talking with others and hearing how they think, how they create, how they see the world. I learn so much through conversation. It is also a huge factor in how I travel. I speak two languages well and two others very basically, but I will determine where I travel often by my level of ability to communicate with the locals. Good bad or otherwise, places where communication would be challenging for me are much lower on my places to visit. If I can’t talk to the locals a significant value for me is missing.
I also know my Communication can have a downside. I can dominate conversations without meaning to. I also tend to interrupt frequently and end the sentences of others. Both due to the influence of Activator (impatience) and Strategic (an ability to see where something is going). I have found, in order to listen attentively, I have to literally put my hand over my mouth to remind myself to be present and let the other person finish.
Do you think you might have the talent of communication? Do you find it easy to put your thoughts into words? Do you feel energized by conversations with others? Do you find that people easily hang on your words and give you complete attention when you are talking? If so, you might well have this talent, too. Take some time to explore it and have it can better serve you.
(First published at livinginperu.com)
Jo Self is Peru’s only Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and is on a mission to disrupt the status quo and raise a Strengths-Based Generation. She believes in a world where everyone can live to their full potential, talents aren’t wasted & happiness is contagious. As a mompreneur & expat living in Peru, she understands the challenges and rewards that both entail. When she’s not helping others create extraordinary lives, she can be found at the sewing machine, at the movies, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or horsing around with her terribly precocious little boy, affectionately known as O. http://joself.consulting or email@example.com