Growth Mindset Improves Communication

Communicators with a growth mindset elevate their performance more quickly. Excellent speakers and superb leaders continuously build on their aptitude. I saw this recently with a founder of a financial firm who had been speaking on stage for decades and still boosted their performance with a growth mindset and dedicated practice. 

A growth mindset, conceived by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck and colleagues, is the belief that basic abilities can be developed and improved over time. The opposite is a fixed mindset, which is the notion that our given intelligence and capabilities limit meaningful development. Research shows that people using a growth mindset improve more over time. The primary reason is that they tend to treat obstacles as learning opportunities and put in the persistent effort to change. 

Belief in Ability + Hard Work = Improvement

The formula can be easy to learn, but difficult to implement. Implementation takes the self-confidence to know we are smart and capable and also always have room for improvement. The grace of taking critical feedback and then doing the hard work are the magical elements for change. Recently a client who leads a professional service firm received feedback that their leadership style was not working for their current followers, even though it had been productive in the past. With a growth mindset during coaching, we brainstormed what changes might be effective. Then they experimented and applied the effort over time with fantastic results. Same leader, same followers, drastically better communication outcomes.

My ‘secret sauce’ for achieving a growth mindset is asking questions to spark self-reflection, to elicit input from others, and to experiment with what works best. 

Some questions my communication coaching clients find helpful are:

  • How could this situation/communication be better?
  • Does memorizing my talking points for a speech help or hinder my performance?
  • Do I demonstrate more confidence standing behind a podium or on an open stage? 
  • What are others I respect doing?
  • What else could I be doing to improve my approach?
  • When I communicate <insert a communication style such as – more directly with followers> is the response better or worse? 
  • What happens when <insert a communication method such as – I give the broader context to someone before instructions on a task>?
  • What might make a difference?

With a growth mindset we can get micro feedback from others on a regular basis to track progress. In the moment we can ask, “What is the one thing I could have done better in that situation?” This simple question makes it easy for others to give us actionable suggestions for refinement.

The primary benefit of a growth mindset is constant advancement. The bonus is that it creates greater happiness. That makes the effort worthwhile!