My Communication Struggles and Journey
In this episode I open up more and share about my communication struggles and journey. I also share lessons I’ve learned more recently working in the data field about these skills.
What You’ll Learn in this episode
- My struggles with communication
- My incorrect assumptions about successful professionals
- Some lessons I’ve learned about communication skills in the context of data
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If you enjoyed this episode, check out my previous episode about why to focus on communication skills.
Hey there. And welcome back to another episode on the art of communicating data. So when I was launching the first five episodes of the season to kick off this podcast, I realized that I haven't shared as much about myself and my journey. I mean, I kind of try to share that in the first episode. And I realized that I didn't really share that much about my journey and this is actually very typical henna behavior. Because most people who know me say that when they first met me, they noticed it takes me a while to open up and get comfortable with them. So it's been five episodes. And I think it's time for me to share with you more so that we can have more honest discussions. And I also hope that by sharing my journey and struggles with communication, I can help encourage you or make you feel more comfortable because maybe you can relate to some of these thingsI hope. By nature. I am a quiet, soft-spoken and shy person. I am an introvert, and I also feel like I'm socially awkward. I do experience social anxiety as well. And in fact, funny story, my parents say that I have always been like this. I was really a quiet baby. I was their first born or I am the first born. And when more experienced parents would visit us, they would point out to my parents that I'm actually unusually quiet for a baby because I'd either be doing my own thing or just observing people and my surroundings. But they would joke with my parents that it feels like that they don't even know that there's a kid at home. Don't worry. My parents did end up having three other boys after me. So they got to experience what it's like having really loud kids, which I guess is normal. Anyways. I was very much aware of being like this. And for the longest I saw these traits that I possess as weaknesses, especially professionally, I think. I just assumed growing up that really loud charismatic people are able to influence others better and get recognition for their work. You know, stuff like that. Now I didn't get into the data field until graduate school, but even before this time, I knew that most professions value communication and social skills. So when I was starting high school, which was almost 20 years ago, I had this phase where I wanted to tackle my major weaknesses. There were two main ones. One was my ability to speak in front of people, a K public speaking, and my fear of Heights. To tackle public speaking. I enrolled in theater class as my elective when I started high school. So I was basically forced to act on stage, do improv, and I learned a bunch of exercises to help me get comfortable with speaking in front of a crowd, as well as projecting my voice. Since we didn't always get Mike's when we were practicing. And I think that was a really great exercise because as a quiet person, I really struggled with projecting my voice. And now if I need to, I can actually project without a microphone at a big event, I've been able to. So I also joined the speech and debate club and mock trial club where you pretend to do a mock trial or court and act out as one of the roles, as, you know, one of the lawyers or witnesses or, you know, the other roles, except for, you know, we actually had a real judge and our jurors were real lawyers, but every other role you could ask. These activities helped me get comfortable with public speaking. And after high school, I would just hone these skills through presentations at school and work that you have to do, you know, like for class or at meetings at work, I didn't join any additional groups or clubs after I left high school to specifically work on the scale. But if you are in college or working right now, you could look into joining Toastmasters. If you want to work on your public speaking skills more. So, despite all these years of experience, there are still some important things I've learned in the past few years about honing this form of communication, especially in the context of communicating with data. One is being a confident public speaker? Isn't enough. You need to craft a good data story and also use visual aids like data visits in order to help you effectively communicate data to your audience too. I've also learned to embrace my own style of communicating. That's more aligned to my personality. For instance, even though I may enjoy public speaking now, and I think I do a pretty good job, I still get really drained afterwards. And this happens to me when I socialize in general. But I noticed more of my energy gets drained after public speaking events. So what I do is I try to block off time after such events whenever I can to recharge alone somewhere. Also, if it's in my control, I try to schedule these kinds of events earlier on in the day, because I noticed I'm more energized in the mornings. And I also have less anxiety if I get it out of the way earlier in the day. So I'm not thinking about it and getting anxious about it throughout. And then I also try to decline social activities that may happen after such events like mixers or networking events. Because I know during this time I'm probably going to want to recharge somewhere alone. Another way I've embraced my style of communication is by being forgiving of my speech imperfections. So I still use filler words like UHS and ums, but not so often that it becomes hard to understand my message or distracting enough for my audience. I also stutter when I get nervous or mispronounce words, and I've just learned to be okay with that. As long as my audience is still comprehending my message. I've also learned that getting great in public speaking or many other skills is not something I will fully overcome or conquer. For instance, I'm still scared of Heights, but I have to constantly overcome it. And after 20 years of training and practice, I still get nervous presenting. But what has changed is that I have more tools now to help me manage my nerves and my anxiety. The last thing I want to share. And this applies to a lot of things in life, not just with communicating data, which is progress over perfection. I used to be a perfectionist. And I remember how draining it was and discouraging because it can hold you back a lot from making progress and from celebrating your wins, I've learned that rarely do things go as planned and your communication will often not be perfect, but. Your audience will either not notice these imperfections or they will be way more forgiving of them compared to how hard you can be on yourself. So try to focus on progress over. So that is pretty much how a soft-spoken shy traverse has improved in communicating in front of others. As I mentioned, it's a constant struggle, but one that has gotten easier over time with practice tools and techniques. I hope that by sharing all of this, I've helped you understand me a little bit, a little bit more, and hopefully encouraged you or inspired you. If this is something you also struggle with. As always feel free to reach out to me anytime via DMS on social media or emailing me directly, you can find me on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter @hanalytx. Or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I will have my email and handle spelled out in the show notes to make it easier for you to find me. I hope to talk to you soon.