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How To Overcome Four Common Challenges To Become A Better Communicator


“Raising your game as a communicator is one of the best ways to make a difference in the world, but it takes courage to open up to others and invite others to open up to you” says Michelle D. Gladieux, author of the new book, Communicate With Courage: Taking Risks To Overcome The Four Hidden Challenges. 

Gladieux explains that those four hidden challenges and sneaky obstacles that can keep you from becoming the best communicator you can be are: 

  1. Hiding—Fear of exposing your supposed weaknesses.
  2. Defining—Putting too much stock into assumptions and being quick to judge.
  3. Rationalizing—Using “being realistic” to shield yourself from taking chances, engaging in conflict, or doing other scary but potentially rewarding actions.
  4. Settling—Stopping at “good enough” instead of aiming for something better in your interactions. 

According to Gladieux, these challenges all have something in common. They require taking risks—to reveal yourself, question your beliefs, take a leap of faith, or move out of your comfort zone. 

Fortunately, each book chapter includes a real-world practice called a Pro Move and an exercise, both carefully crafted to help you overcome hang-ups and take more joy in communicating. 

Effective and courageous communication requires self-knowledge, practice, and a desire to grow. It is a full-body, full-mind, and full-heart effort. This book is like having a caring, expert coach along with you for the journey. 

Today, Gladieux shares these insights with us: 

Question: Of the four obstacles, which one is typically the most challenging for communicators and why? 

Gladieux: The four hidden challenges are sneaky obstacles the keep us from becoming the best communicators we can be. In my teaching and coaching practice, I've named them Hiding (fear of exposing supposed or actual weaknesses), Defining (putting too much stock into our assumptions), Rationalizing (shielding ourselves from taking chances by focusing too much thinking on what might go wrong), and Settling (stopping at "good enough" rather than striving toward deeper, braver, more meaningful interactions). 

Which hidden challenge is most relevant and difficult to overcome for communicators will vary by person, since we all have unique upbringings, strengths, weaknesses, and experiences in the world. 

I've noticed that once I gain ground in seeing and coping with one challenge (whether I'm working on myself or helping a coaching client grow), another may rear its head and require attention to be overcome. It's also worth noting that we may find a challenge we believe we've conquered can emerge again as life tests us in new ways as communicators. 

Many coaching clients find that they need to give Rationalizing a rest before they can engage in potentially rewarding communication, because pessimism certainly has power to limit our opportunities as communicators in our personal and professional lives. 

And, if we're Settling, right out of the gate we know we won't be striving to reach our communication potential in any way. 

Readers can find Pro Moves and do-able exercises delivered with love and strategy throughout the book to help them take small steps toward facing all four hidden challenges and their communication fears. 

Question: At what point or stage in a person's career is your book most helpful and why? 

Gladieux: Communicate with Courage was built to help young adults through seniors make a difference in the world as communicators. 

As long as you're breathing and can speak and/or write, you can strive to summon courage to grow as a message sender and receiver. It's been wonderful to hear about people gifting this book to their 87-year-old grandmother and to their graduating high school senior. Throughout adulthood, we need to keep questioning our beliefs, sharing about ourselves in ways that can be helpful to others (as we help ourselves), and taking leaps of faith in communication.

 Michelle Gladieux

Michelle Gladieux is President of Gladieux Consulting, a Midwest-based team known for the design and presentation of seminars in communication and leadership topics around the U.S. 

She facilitates strategic planning and executive coaching for clients in diverse industries, in governments, at non-profits, and in academia. She has 18 years of collegiate teaching experience at three universities. She's worked as a Human Resources and Training Director in the cold storage, robotics, and construction industries and enjoys visiting conferences as a keynote speaker and workshop presenter. 

Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

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