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.
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