Effective communication is a life skill, albeit one we often take for granted. And I believe that we can become better communicators with intentional practice.
Learning any new skill, including communication, is an exercise in “two steps forward, one step back.” You get good at one element of the skill, and then in order to level up, you have to add more complexity.
Take, for example, learning to play the violin. There is so much to think about: You hold the violin under your chin. You support it with one hand and move the bow across the strings with the other. You have to hold each hand in a particular way, and move the bow just the right distance.
And all of this is before you even get to reading music, translating the notes to a pattern of pressure your fingers apply to the strings, whether your bow should be moving up or down… Each time the violin student adds a new element, they often take a step back before they can progress. (Can you tell I had two kids study the violin?)
The “step back” can be really frustrating. It is demotivating to see your progress slip away, just when you thought things were on the upswing. This natural part of the learning process can cause people to give up, right when they’re on the verge of a breakthrough.
It’s important to know that, far from being a sign of failure, the “step back” is a crucial part of integrating our learning. This is how we can make progress, get better, and then do it all over again.