When I was in college, all education majors took a Communications 101 course.
Students completely dreaded it and referred to it as the public speaking class.
But on the first day of class, our professor eased everyone’s minds and completely changed our perspectives on what the course entailed.
The class wasn’t about writing and giving speeches.
It was about understanding different styles of communication – from casual introductions to formal or group presentations.
It was so that we learned how to communicate effectively given the person, situation, and environment.
The class offered many valuable lessons that carried me through college and my professional career. There were many tips I learned that I wish I had been taught earlier on in school!
You can help your child develop strong communication skills for academic, professional, and future success with these parenting skills tips.
Parenting Skills Tip #1: Don’t Let the Crickets Chirp
Have you ever watched a comedian and their joke falls completely flat?
The comedian shrugs it off and says, “Tough crowd!”
Well, it’s not really a tough crowd.
It’s the comedian not knowing their audience and the types of jokes that they would respond to.
Knowing the audience is crucial for success in every type of communication. It shows the ability to interact, depending on the person and the environment.
This is a skill your child can start developing at a young age since they do interact with many different people and groups!
From relatives and classmates to teachers and coaches, there are many different people in your child’s social web.
If they are speaking with a group of friends, then a silly joke that they make will likely get a lot of laughs. But if they make that same silly joke in front of a group of adults, then there may only be some gentle chuckles. The joke likely won’t translate the same way as it did to their friends!
One thing your child can start to learn is how to read a room.
First, they need to figure out who exactly is in the “room.”
Is it a teacher? Grandparent? Friend? Aunt or uncle? Sibling?
Once they begin to compartmentalize the different types of people in their social web, they should start speaking with directional questions or phrases.
It’s putting out “feelers,” as I like to call it. For example, if I’m not sure if someone is going to have the same type of humor that I have, I won’t jump in with my typical jokes! Instead, I’ll make small comments or quips to see how they respond and feel.
This is exactly what your child can do too. They can say something to test the reaction of a person or group. Then, if successful, they should continue in that direction and path!
Similarly, your child should also be aware of the appropriate tools used to communicate effectively with different groups of people.
While they may use social media or texts with their friends, neither are used in an academic or professional setting! Work with your child to distinguish between texting and social media for friends and family, then cordial emails for academic or future professional settings.
Parenting Skills Tip #2: Gaining Trust = More Support!
“Can you keep a secret?”
“Did you do your homework?”
“Did you practice your penalty kicks?”
“Did you clean your room? I hope I don’t have to tell you twice!”
Whether your child is interacting with friends, teachers, sports coaches, or you, moments present themselves where your child needs to prove they are trustworthy.
Often this comes down to if they are keeping their word and following through with their actions.
You can work with your child to understand accountability and what it takes to be trusted by others.
They should understand that if there are certain expectations, it’s important that they follow through. They should understand that what the expected end-goal or end-result is. This way, they ensure that they are taking the steps necessary to complete the task.
After all, they won’t lose trust due to irresponsibility or failed communication!
Instead, they continue to gain the trust of those they interact with.
They are going to steadily gain more and more support – something a strong leader has!
To keep the trust and respect of others, your child also needs to be empathetic in their actions and words.
Take Bill Gates for example.
In addition to his incredible wealth and success, Gates is incredibly empathetic! In fact, he and his wife – Melinda Gates – are considered the most generous philanthropists in the US. Gates has also encouraged other billionaires to take the same empathetic and charitable pledge too. The ‘Giving Pledge’ could be worth $600 billion by 2022, demonstrating Gates’ level of inspiration and how others respect what he stands for.
Teaching your child to be empathetic and compassionate is something you can work on now.
There are many different conversations or experiences that you can provide to help develop this skill set. You can check out more on how to show and teach compassion to your child.
Parenting Skills Tip #3: Speak Your Mind, Keep Your Word
To your child, having a strong social presence and lots of friends might be something equally as important as their academic achievements!
And having friends is incredibly important! (A study from Harvard found that solid friendships have an impact on brain health.)
Your child is likely eager to become a popular or most wanted friend in their friend group. Or even just expand their social circle to have more friends!
Building friendships requires more than just having similar interests with others. Your child needs to have strong communication skills to gain the trust and respect of their friends.
This means not just talking, but also listening and reacting in a positive way too!
You can work with your child to learn cues for listening and thoughtfully responding to questions or concerns that others raise. This shows that they carefully consider the feelings of others, which helps build the trust that solidifies friendships.
And great leaders are great listeners!
Mark Zuckerburg brings this into his work culture at Facebook –
Caitlin Kalinowski, Head of Facebook Product Design Engineer, shared with The Muse, “Every Friday at 4 o’clock, Mark Zuckerberg comes in our big auditorium and stands in front of the crowd and takes questions, and he loves hard questions. What I appreciate is that he really does want to understand what we care about and what we want to know about.”
Zuckerberg constantly opens up communication. He understands that his employees continue to trust and believe in him because of his transparency and approachability.
Maybe your child doesn’t quite have their sights on becoming CEO of a multi-billion dollar company yet, but strong leadership skills still bring a high amount of success in school and social spheres.
To make friends and build trust, your child needs to continuously earn the respect of those they interact with and always lend an open ear.
Instead of letting your child fear or dread public speaking or interviews, work with them so that they understand how to successfully and effectively communicate with others.
To do so, they should always continue to be authentic and empathetic – whether it’s during phone calls and meetings, or in emails or messages.
By working with your child to develop communication skills, you help them with school, future academics, and future professional success!
Have you had a chance to check our parenting skills blog on the 6 organizational skills your child should work on developing? We offer incredibly useful tips on how your child can organize their mind and organize how they interact and communicate with others!
What’s one reason why you think people get really nervous during public speaking events, interviews, or when talking to colleagues or bosses?