7 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Communication Skills

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Communication is one of those skills that you may not think you need much help with.

You may think, “Communication is easy, I can relay a message to another person!”

But communication is so much more than being able to shoot someone an email.

The methods we use to communicate with each other is continuously changing. While Zoom may have been familiar to only a small portion of the business population two years ago, it’s now an everyday method of communication that employees from businesses worldwide have become very familiar with.

The truth is that we now have a growing variety of choices when it comes to modes of communication. And a lot of the methods that we once used to communicate are becoming less relevant as time goes on, and communication barriers that we once faced (like physical distance) is no longer an issue.

So it’s no wonder that having good communication skills has continuously ranked as the #1 most sought-after skill by employers. And it’s not as easy to come by as you may think. Being a good communicator means that you’re a skilled listener, you can interpret non-verbal communication, you can pick up on other people’s emotions, and you know the right questions to ask when you’re having a conversation.

If you can do all of these things in addition to delivering messages in a clear and concise way, there’s a good chance you know how to get what you want, overcome obstacles, make friends, build rapport with colleagues, and gain respect from others.

But, being able to do all of those things, and being able to do them well, is a tall order.

Engaging in proper communication is a complex task due to the complicated nature of human thought processes. It can be difficult to formulate your thoughts into words, and even more challenging to voice your message in a way that will be interpreted by your audience the way you intend it to be. Your statements may be misunderstood–or worse, you could be caught using faulty logic, which could open you up to criticism.

Think back to a time when you’ve felt misunderstood. Maybe you got accused of giving someone a “look” that you were oblivious to, or someone took your quick response to something you wrote in a hurry as being rude. Think not only of the trouble that could have been avoided with more clear communication, but also the feelings that could have been spared and the time that could have been saved from others who dwelled on these momentary lapses of proper communication.

Think of the consequences that could result, should one of these misunderstandings lay the foundation for a potential employer’s first impression of you. Or, what if it’s a first date who misinterprets your message? Poor communication can have a strong negative influence on your life’s journey, which could be easily avoided if you were to be more intentional about your interpersonal interactions.

And having good communication skills isn’t just important for your personal and professional wellbeing– it’s also an important factor whenever you’re a part of a team. Research consistently shows that communication plays a vital role in the success of teams and maintaining a positive team dynamic.

But, whether you’re unintentionally misleading–or even offending–the person you’re talking to, ineffective communication can lead to unnecessary conflict, low company morale, and missed opportunities.

So in this article, we are going to look at seven SMART goals that you can use to help improve your communication skills. Even if you think you’re a pretty good communicator, it’s worth it to set some goals in this area because this is a skill that will continue to look different as technology continues to evolve.

But first, let’s define SMART goals more clearly so you can recognize the value in this goal-setting strategy.

What Is a SMART Goal?

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When your goals meet all of these criteria, it’s nearly impossible to fail. Setting your goals according to the SMART goal framework ensures that you have a solid plan in place for achieving your objectives.

Let’s break down each component of a SMART goal.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific- The statement is narrow and it answers the questions who, what, when, where and why.
  • Measurable- You can clearly define how you will know you’re making progress along the way or at what point you’ve reached your goal.
  • Achievable- It is reasonable to accomplish your goal by the deadline that you’ve set. It is not so far out of reach that it is impossible to achieve.
  • Relevant- Your goal aligns with your long-term plans and your values.
  • Time-bound– SMART goals are limited by a set deadline, which will keep you motivated and ensure you prioritize reaching your goal. 

These elements work together to create clear goals that are trackable and within your ability and skill set to achieve. If you haven’t been successful with meeting your goals in the past, they were probably poorly-written, making them impossible to manage. However, when you’re using the SMART goal structure, your goals will start with a solid foundation that sets you up for success.

Let’s take a look at some examples of SMART goals that you could use if you’re trying to improve your communication skills. Depending on the goal and where you are on your journey to better communication, you can change around the numbers a bit to suit your needs.

7 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Communication Skills

1. “Over the next six weeks, I will balance the communication dynamic on my team by encouraging quieter team members to speak up and reminding more talkative members that we want to hear from everyone. I will do this by giving verbal reminders throughout all team meetings.”

S: This statement sets forth exactly what this person plans on doing in order to balance the communication dynamic among his team members.

M: Each meeting over the next six weeks counts as one step toward meeting this goal.

A: This is an achievable goal.

R: This goal is relevant for any leader who wants to ensure the success of their team.

T: This goal-setter will practice this goal for six weeks.

2. “For the next week, I’ll do a mental head-to-toe body language check whenever I have a conversation that lasts over one minute to increase my self-awareness of my non-verbal communication.”

S: This SMART goal states this person’s plan to improve their self-awareness of their non-verbal communication so they can actively work to improve it.

M: Each conversation that lasts over one minute over the next seven days counts as one unit of measurement.

A: This is an achievable goal.

R: This is a relevant goal for those who want to improve their non-verbal communication.

T: This goal will be completed in seven days.

3. “For the next four weeks, I will keep an open mind while talking to other people. I will do this by verbally empathizing with others’ points of view whenever I don’t share their opinion.”

S: This goal articulates this person’s plan to keep an open mind when talking to people who have opinions that differ from the goal setter’s.

M: Each conversation that this person has over the next four weeks with someone he disagrees with will count as one unit.

A: This is an achievable goal, especially for those who have a lot of conversations on polarizing topics.

R: This is a relevant goal for people who want to expand their mindset and foster a culture of open-mindedness and respect.

T: This goal will be complete in four weeks.

4. “Over the next two months, I will initiate at least one conversation per week with a stranger to increase my confidence when talking to people from different backgrounds.”

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At least try to talk to a stranger once a week to increase your confidence when talking to people from different backgrounds.

S: This goal describes this person’s plan to increase their confidence when talking to people who come from a different background.

M: This person must initiate at least one conversation per week over the next two months, so eight conversations overall.

A: This is an achievable goal for those who want to be inclusive of diverse perspectives.

R: This is a relevant goal for people who are in the beginning stages of their communication-improvement plan.

T: This goal will be complete in two months.

5. “In order to reduce barriers to proper communication, I will improve my planning prior to communicating by considering the goals, needs, and attitudes of my audience, in addition to how others will be impacted by my message. I will do this intentionally prior to sending any written communication until June 1st.”

S: This person’s goal is to reduce the breakdown of communication by intentionally planning and thinking through all written communication until June 1st.

M: Each written form of communication between now and June 1st is one unit of measurement.

A: This is an achievable goal.

R: This is a relevant goal for those who want to minimize barriers to proper communication.

T: This goal will be complete by June 1st.

6. “By the end of the week, I will make my office more conducive to being a good listener by removing distractions, setting a chair up for people to speak with me at eye-level, and posting a “come in” sign on my door.”

S: This person’s goal is to actively work on their listening skills by creating an environment that is conducive to doing so.

M: This person has three tasks to complete by the end of the week.

A: This is an achievable goal.

R: This is a relevant goal for anyone who wants to focus on the receiving part of their communication skills.

T: This goal will be complete by Friday afternoon.

7. “I will spend 10 minutes focusing on a plan for following through prior to making any promises for the rest of the month. When my actions contradict my promises, others will discount my words, so I will carefully consider the impact of my commitments before I make them and I will alter my message accordingly before sending it.”

S: This person will spend time analyzing the potential impact of their messages before they’re relayed in order to ensure they can follow through on their words with appropriate action.

M: This person will do this for 10 minutes before making any promises for the rest of the month.

A: This is an achievable goal.

R: This is a relevant goal for those who want their verbal communication to be trusted.

T: This goal will be complete by the end of the month.

Final Thoughts on SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Communication

It would be hard to claim that there is nothing more someone could learn to improve their communication skills. For most people, improving communication skills will be a lifelong, ongoing process. You (and everyone around you) will continue to make mistakes and learn from the situations that result.

Investing your time in improving your communication skills is sure to pay off in the end. Try one or two of these SMART goals in your own life and see what you can notice and learn just in the short time it takes to complete a goal listed in this article. Chances are, once you finish one, you will be eager to start on another.

Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.

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7 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Communication Skills