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How Good at Communicating Are You?

A 14-question self-assessment

Geralt, Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Geralt, Pixabay, Public Domain

Most people think of themselves as good communicators. After all, we can all talk. But how good are we actually?

Usually True or Usually False (If you’re not sure, ask a trusted friend:)

1. I pay good attention when someone is talking and usually understand what’s being said.

2. When I don’t understand something that a person is saying and I wish I did, I usually ask for clarification, for example, “I’m not quite clear on what you said. Would you repeat it?”

3. I’m good at reading between the lines: what’s not said but likely meant. For example, in response, to my asking, “How are you?” the person says “fine” but I’d notice if the tone isn’t as upbeat as usual and the person’s face subtly dropped.

4. Without asking too many questions that make me feel like an interrogator, I do ask my conversation partners a reasonable number of questions.

5. I talk too much.

If so, try using the Traffic Light Rule: During an utterance’s first 30 seconds, your light is green. During the next 30 seconds, it’s yellow: The risk is growing that the person prefers for you to stop. At the one-minute mark, your light is red. Yes, rarely you’ll want to “run a red light” but usually, you should stop or ask a question. If you’d have a hard time knowing when you reach 30 or 60 seconds, practice with a timer.

A common reason that people talk too much is that they’re uncomfortable with silence. See if you can get used to it. It’s usually better than talking too much. The other person will likely fill the silence.

Another poor reason for talking too much is that you talk to clarify your thoughts. But you may pay a price for doing that: boring the other person or making them think you’re egotistical or a blowhard.

6. I talk too little. Possible ways to help: Read more, ask questions, cultivate curiosity.

7. I interrupt too much.

If so, default to not interrupting. Realize that many people feel disrespected when interrupted—they may think that you think that what you have to say is more important. Or the person may be trying to clarify his or her thoughts; by interrupting, you miss out on the best s/he has to say.

8. I interrupt too little. Some people know they’re long-winded or talk because they’re nervous and are glad if you rein them in.

9. People are usually interested when I’m talking.

If you don’t think you are, read more, talk less, ask questions.

10. I make my points clearly so that most people understand what I’m saying.

11. When I make an argument, it’s logical and crisply stated.

12. I’m too tactful, not direct enough

13. I’m not tactful enough

14. I have a good sense of humor, both in what I say and in reacting to others’ humor.

The takeaway

Is there anything you want to change? If so, what do you want to do to remember it: Remind yourself each time you begin a conversation? Write it on your palm? Tell a friend of your new goal and check in daily?

I read this aloud on YouTube.