I need new skills for my job

I thank you for all the sound advice you give. I enjoy your teachings because of all of the insights. It helps me to see why I sometimes make the wrong decisions and how to make improvements.

I need your advice because I am about to make changes in my lifestyle. I have to make improvements to my writing and how I speak. My last job I did not deal with people of high quality and as a result I began to neglect how I communicated. Now I am planning on coming into contact with people who are educated and I feel that I need to improve in the area of communication and how I express myself.

I would love to hear your advice on how to best prepare myself on how to communicate and to express myself to a much better educated group of people. I know that my writing has to be improved as well.

Thank you very much for your answer.

Francisco D.P.

Dear Francisco,

Congratulations on embarking on a program of self-improvement. That is a lifetime quest, but we all emphasize different things at different times and you now want to focus on communication.

Before giving advice, we would like to quibble a bit on the equation of high-quality people with educated people. We have known many high-quality people who did not even graduate high school and very low-quality people who have multiple Masters degrees. Nonetheless, speaking and writing correctly is something to which we should all aspire.

There are a number of areas that all need your attention.  Among them are vocabulary, grammar, expressing yourself clearly and speaking fluently. Fortunately, while a certain amount of hard work is required, much of this can be attained through pleasant means.

The bottom line is that you will gain in direct correspondence to the time and effort you put in. Read aloud for about ten minutes each day. Spend some of that time reading children’s books (this is a bonus if you have children who want to listen) that allow you to practice modulating your voice and using inflections. Other times, read from fine speeches or books such as Abraham Lincoln’s words or essays by Winston Churchill. Take time to listen to outstanding speakers and take notes on their delivery, cadence, pauses and style. Listen to excellent renditions of books on tape and then read a paragraph or two from that same book out loud. By studying different people’s work you will begin to develop your own natural style.

From experience, we can tell you that the only way to improve your writing is to write. There are many programs that will give you ideas or themes. React to editorials in the paper or try to write alternate chapters in books you enjoy. Make friends with the dictionary and the thesaurus. Let what you have written sit for a day and then revise and improve it. Do the same the next day while also working on new material. When you have become disciplined and diligent, get feedback from someone who is ahead of you on this path.

Do some self-introspection and ask people close to you whether you can do these things on your own or whether you need to sign up for a program and work with guidance. Since you asked us, we will add one more bit. You acknowledge that you let this part of your development slide because you didn’t need it for business. We encourage you to want to be the best you can be in all areas whether or not you see a utilitarian purpose. You always interact with yourself and you are worthy of your best effort.

Thank you for your kind words about our teachings,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

26 thoughts on “I need new skills for my job”

  1. Dear Rabbi and Susan Lapin!
    Great recommendations, as always, and in a brilliant form!
    Just wanted to suggest another “trick” that works for me: adding a word or two to your active vocabulary every day. Like, if you read a word that you need thesaurus’ help for, try to use that particular word instead of more commonly used synonymous ones.
    English is my second language and this was something that helped me expand my active vocabulary.

  2. Francisco: to bring Toastmasters up again…I’ve been part of Toastmasters since late summer of ’06, having left an abusive marriage as a mom of 2 little ones in April of ’03. It helped me in my journey to re-learn some things I wasn’t able to do in my own strength: my voice is important, that I’m obligated to speak up/speak out throughout my life no matter what my husband taught, that I matter, and being in Toastmasters has helped to regrow my confidence in a secure, safe environment. In my current activity with TM, I’m VP of Education, I’ve held nearly all offices at the club level save one so far. I very strongly encourage you to join up with one of your local Toastmasters clubs! You have so much to gain, learn, share, and grow in joining up with Toastmasters. If you google “Toastmasters”, then click the link to finding your local club to visit & see what we’re all about, you have absolutely nothing to lose on the positive side and everything to gain! –Diana

  3. Love this question and response. I would like to suggest that joining a Toast Masters Club can also be an excellent way to build on your conversational and written skills – I speak from personal experience. Also, I have struggled with written communication. so I has learned to ask a trusted mentor to review what I has written for clarity and grammar before sending something that needs to be very clear and concise in its message. I do appreciate your suggestions for improvement and will try to practice some of these ideas. Thank you for all your AJW.

    1. Janice, that is a great suggestion. We know people who gained tremendously from Toastmasters.

      1. Had to laugh at my own grammar mistakes in my response!! Too funny. You were very gracious not to point this out! I did it in a hurry and made changes after initially writing it. A good lesson in the value of proof-reading!! Hope I gave a few people a chuckle…..

        1. Janice, my eye went right over the mistake until you sent me back to look at your comment again!

  4. Do you suppose that, for a person who struggles to start up conversations with strangers especially, reading out loud could perhaps even help find more things to talk about off the bat? In my mind it makes sense in a way that it could, but I’d like to hear your thoughts and insight.

  5. A great speaker told me one time that if you are passionate and confident of your subject, it is amazing how your presentation will resonate.

    1. Michael, that is absolutely true that being passionate about something makes a presentation pop. But many people simply have no experience making a presentation and get frustrated at not being able to share what is important to them.

  6. Thank you…have been reading aloud at your suggestion for several months and what a difference…love the idea of adding children’s books and great speeches…what a blessing you are…!!!

    1. How wonderful that you have implemented advice, Joanne. It’s so easy to read something, nod your head and then not follow up.

  7. Ndu Chikwereuba Prince

    So beautiful, that’s exactly for me. Thanks to you both for helping us to be better.

  8. That says it all: identify those models you consider praiseworthy and imitate them in speaking and in writing. And practice, practice, practice! And if I want learn to read a new language, I usually begin with easier books, even children’s books.

    On the radio a few days ago I heard a coach say that one of his charges told him ‘I wish to be a great man.’ He replied, ‘Then how many great men have you studied?’ A rhetorical question…

    1. We only answer questions in ways that we hope will benefit more than just the writer, so thank you for these words, Alexandra.

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