Jump to content


Learning how to communicate

Recommended Posts

So, inspired by a recent post about "catching up" with math as an adult, I wonder what suggestions you all have for someone who never learned to communicate well. I have a friend who managed to get all the way through school without any real idea on how to say what they mean, express themselves well, write a paper (or even a good outline), etc. And they get frustrated that people are constantly misunderstanding them, and would like to communicate better, but also tend to fall into the fixed mindset thinking that they're just not good at communicating and it's just one of their weaknesses.


Recently they had a really bad experience with a miscommunication on a grand scale that damaged their reputation and risked their job (they just couldn't figure out how to say what they meant, and got completely turned upside down when someone started debating/arguing with them, but they were actually in the right), and they asked me what they can do to communicate better in the future.


I don't know what to suggest, since I feel like "learning to communicate" is something that happens in a million tiny moments over the course of many, many years. Are there basic classes or books on learning to communicate that could actually help this situation? I don't even understand how you can reach your 30s with such poor communication skills, honestly, but this is someone I care about and would like to help. As it is, I spend a lot of time correcting things they've written, or helping them rephrase things they want to say to others, but I don't know if I'm just becoming a crutch or if this sort of working through the details is exactly what they need, just a million more times. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you say, people with disabilities can get very discouraged about it, leading to higher rates of anxiety, depression, etc. The challenge for you, looking at this, is sorting out exactly what's going on. For instance, in people I know who struggle with this, I see multiple factors:


-Executive Function deficits--There's usually an EF component, so anything that requires them to be sequential, organized, use their working memory, thinking through the argument, etc. is really tough! Think geometry proofs. 

-processing speed--If their processing speed is low relative to IQ, this makes it even harder. They might have really bright thoughts, but they're having a really hard time getting it all figured out and communicated in a really rapid fire situation. So "debate" would not be the ideal format for these people. ;) They need the questions ahead and time to process.

-grammar delays, language deficits, stilted speech, etc.--Sometimes this is connected to a reading disability (SLD reading, dyslexia) or non-verbal learning disability (NVLD). They weren't getting language inputs as much as their peers, so they didn't develop and advance as much in language. They may have simplistic or repetitive speech patterns, errors in pronoun antecedents, etc. You can work on this with audiobooks or I suppose speech therapy materials. I haven't done it with an adult with speech therapy materials. Depends on where they're at as to how open they'd be to that.


-social thinking--They may have trouble noticing how other people are feeling about what they're saying, noticing non-verbal body cues, anticipating responses, perspective taking, etc. They may have very b&w thinking.


So people are complex. You could work on one thing and find more remains. Depending on how much it impacts their life, they might like to go ahead and get a psych eval and get things diagnosed. It's hard to target what you can't accurately define. Maybe there's some ADHD or NVLD or SLDs going on. Some of those things have really specific helps. Like for social thinking, you can connect with a practitioner who uses materials from SocialThinking and get some help. It can be transformative! They might benefit from a combo approach, several interventions. It's probably not just *one* thing.


If the person choses to get evals, it can give them correct words so they can choose tools to compensate and self-advocate. If they know their processing speed is low, relative to IQ, they might say "Hey, let me think about that and get back to you" and avoid situations that put them on the spot. It will empower them with the right words and let them make better choices. 

Edited by OhElizabeth
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work for a huge global company, and just looking at our learning catalog, there are dozens of courses like this: Creating Clear & Compelling Messages, Effective Communications, Communication Skills Workshop, Business Writing: How to Write Clearly and Concisely ... etc.. 


If it's work related, I would think the employer could help find an appropriate class.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...