How Can Coaching Improve Communication Skills?
A communication coach helps clients identify and change the habits that get in the way of being heard. Communication coaches help you speak up for yourself, recognize when to choose your words carefully or use humor, and how to be ready with a disarming comment when things go wrong. A good coach will save you time and frustration by quickly pinpointing what isn’t working for you.
The best way to learn how to communicate better is through experience, observation, feedback, coaching, and some degree of introspection. The more situations you observe yourself in while working on your communication skills, the more diverse opportunities you will have to practice them. It’s important to remember that good communication takes time and effort.
Communication coaching focuses specifically on helping people communicate more effectively. Communication coaches work with clients in a variety of settings, primarily corporate America; but, they can also be found in educational institutions, sports organizations, and community service agencies. Communication coaches help clients identify their communication goals and work with them to build skills in the following areas:
- speaking effectively
- listening effectively
- writing well
- negotiating & influencing
- presenting ideas & improving presentations
Businesspeople engage communication coaches for a number of reasons. Employees in large institutions often have the opportunity to work with a coach. For example, AT&T offers coaching to executives who attend seminars on how to become better communicators. Other major institutions offering employee coaching include IBM, Lucent Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard. While most corporations don’t offer free coaching for their employees, many are willing to reimburse the cost of coaching sessions.
How Much Is a Communication Coach?
The fees for communication coaching vary depending on the client’s needs and the coach’s training, experience, and location. Most coaches offer a standard rate of $80 to $125 per hour or a flat fee for a set number of hours. Newer coaches may charge less than more experienced ones. Some coaches also charge by the project; for example, a day-long coaching session or a series of sessions.
How Do Communication Coaches Help People?
People who hire communication coaches do so to learn how to communicate better. Some clients want help focusing their ideas; others want coaching on how to make presentations, speak up for themselves, write reports, or negotiate a contract.
Each client’s situation is different, but many people come to the coach with similar issues. For example, most people who want to improve their public speaking skills have realized that they have a problem in this area and want help developing a strategy.
Specifically, communication coaches help people by providing feedback, observing them in a variety of situations, and pointing out behavior they may not have observed themselves.
Most importantly, coaches listen to what you want to accomplish and work with that goal as the starting point for all their suggestions. A good coach will help you define your goals and develop strategies to reach those goals. The more specific your goals, the better your results.
Here are some examples of areas a communication coach may help with:
- developing a positive attitude about speaking in front of others
- learning how to be an effective public speaker
- not sending unintended messages through tone of voice or body language
- identifying and using supportive words when asking questions or making requests
- developing the ability to understand body language and facial expressions
- learning how to listen actively
- expressing appreciation effectively through words or actions
- establishing healthy work relationships with others, including bosses
- developing personal skills that are important on the job, but are not taught on the job or in school. For example, how to negotiate a salary or ask for a promotion
In addition to individual coaching, some communication coaches work with groups to help them achieve goals as well. Coaching teams is an increasingly popular way to meet the needs of corporations that encourage teamwork and want people to communicate effectively with each other.
What Are the Five Main Communication Skills?
There are five main communication skills that coaches teach their clients:
- Speaking Effectively: The speaker needs to be clear and concise, deliver a speech that is appropriate for the given situation, and speak with conviction.
- Listening Effectively: The listener should be able to identify underlying emotions in what the speaker is saying, determine how much information they need before offering their own point of view, and focus on the speaker’s message.
- Writing Well: This skill includes making sure that information is presented in an effective format, using appropriate language, and making sure that written materials are free of grammatical errors.
- Negotiating & Influencing: The communicator needs to be skilled at identifying their goals as well as the goals of other people involved in a negotiation and should be able to state their position clearly and persuasively.
- Presenting Ideas: The presenter needs to gain attention, explain concepts in an easy-to-understand way, present information that is accurate and comprehensive, and answer audience questions at the end.
What Does a Communication Coach Do?
The coach acts as a teacher, helping the client to improve areas such as public speaking and interpersonal skills. Coaches help their clients define specific goals and create action plans so that they can see how far they’ve come and where they still need to grow. Coaching also includes establishing agreements about commitments for future actions and providing feedback on the person’s progress.
How Can Coaching Improve Communication Skills?
As communication coaches work with their clients, they encourage them to examine their communication skills honestly. They also provide the client with the opportunity to practice and hone these skills through exercises and activities. Communication coaching can help people improve in all areas of their lives, including work and personal relationships.
- Talking about your feelings: When was the last time you sat down with a friend and discussed some of the issues that have been bothering you? Every time we communicate with others, we’re putting our thoughts into words. The better those words are, the more likely it is that people will understand exactly how we feel and what we want to say.
- Writing clearly: Have you ever struggled to write a paper or an email, only to have somebody else tell you that it was difficult to understand? Good communication requires being clear about your message so that it is understood by the people you are speaking with.
- Public speaking: Do you get nervous when friends ask for advice in front of others? Or when people ask you to present information in front of a group? Public speaking can be terrifying, but it is actually one of the most important aspects of communication.
- Understanding others: Have you ever met somebody for the first time and felt like they didn’t like you? Or maybe you’ve been in an argument with a friend and thought that he or she didn’t understand what you were trying to say? Good communication skills require being able to read the emotions of other people and understanding why they feel the way that they do.
- Planning your message: Have you ever tried explaining an idea or project, only for somebody to ask you a question about it days later? Communication is not just about speaking, it’s also about preparing in advance. You need to know exactly what you want to say and then figure out the best way to get that across.
- Making others feel at ease: Have you ever gone up to somebody for the first time and tried making small talk, only for them to look uncomfortable? Good communication requires making others feel comfortable in your presence so that they can focus on what you’re saying and not how awkward the conversation is.
- Self-awareness: When was the last time you really thought about how other people see you? What do they know about your personality and what is important to you? Communication requires understanding all of these things about yourself in order to present them clearly to others.
- Choosing your words carefully: Have you ever started to answer a question, only to realize that it wasn’t the right time? Or maybe you’ve tried apologizing but realized that your words didn’t convey exactly what you were trying to say. Communication is about knowing which words will do the best job of getting across what you want.
- Setting goals: When was the last time that you told somebody what your goals were and then worked to achieve them? Communicating with others is more than just having ideas, it is putting those ideas into action.
Coaching encourages people to think about their communication skills and then set goals for improvement. Communication coaches can work with clients in small groups or one-on-one, depending on the client’s needs. All coaching begins with creating an action plan, where the coach and the client identify specific areas that they want to focus on improving. That plan is then followed by practicing the necessary skills and creating a specific timeline for follow-up.
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Can You Find a Communication Coach Online?
According to the International Coach Federation (ICF) website, coaching is an ethical practice in which highly skilled coaches guide people who want to change their lives or achieve a specific goal. Coaches are trained professionals who listen, ask questions, and provide feedback. They believe that working with a coach will help clients unlock barriers and reach new levels of success.
Worldwide, people are increasingly turning to coaches when they want help reaching a goal. And while some people seek in-person coaching by working with a coach who is located in their local area, other people turn to the Internet in search of a coach who can help them online.
However, be aware that there are people who advertise themselves as coaches who do not actually have any training or credentials. Before you hire anyone claiming to be a coach, make sure to do your research and check his or her professional background. You can learn about finding the right coach for you by visiting the International Coach Federation website.
The International Coach Federation website lists more than 3,000 communication coaches in their online directory and includes information about each coach’s training and experience. They also provide coaching resources for finding the right coach for you.
There are also numerous books available that describe how to communicate more effectively. Some of the most popular titles include the following (I recommend subscribing to Audible for a free trial to listen to books on the go and get your first book free):
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People
If you prefer to listen to an online class instead of reading a book, Skillshare offers several communication classes! Below are my top picks:
- Communication Skills: Become More Clear, Concise, & Confident
- Social Skills & Communication Skills for Introverts: Connect with People Instantly
- Double Your Social Skills & Communication Skills
How Do You Become a Communication Coach?
There is no national certification available to communication coaches. A coach may have a bachelor’s degree in communications, psychology, speech/language pathology, education, counseling, public relations—even physical therapy—and still not be a certified coach. Instead of focusing on formal education, most communication coaches pursue coaching through their own personal experience with coaching and through education courses offered by the International Coach Federation (ICF).
Communication Coaching Certification
The ICF offers three credentials: Associate (ACC), Professional (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC). Anyone interested in working as a coach can earn the Associate credential, which requires applicants to have six months or more of coaching experience and/or work with a coach for at least 30 days. The Professional credential requires an additional year of coaching experience beyond the requirements of the Associate certification. To earn the Master Coach credential, candidates must demonstrate leadership skills and knowledge by having five years of coaching experience and/or a master’s degree in a relevant field.
Anyone who earns one of the three credentials from the International Coach Federation will be able to use the designation “certified coach,” regardless of his or her educational background.
If you’re going to hire a communication coach, make sure you find out if he or she has the proper credentials and experience before working with that person. You can browse through more than 3,000 communication coaches in the ICF online directory before making your final decision.
Coaching is an individualized way of learning how to communicate more effectively for your particular situation. And while you might initially be reluctant to work with a coach, remember that doing so can help you reach your communication goals faster.
Related Posts about Communication
- How to Speak with Confidence
- Are There Classes That Teach Social Skills?
- Can I Be a Manager If I Have Social Anxiety?
What Is a Communication Coach?
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