Teenagers now have practically everything at their fingertips, literally. Emails and texts are much easier to send and so much more common than they used to be. The issue with this is the large population of teenagers speak informally and comfortably because that is taught in school. Because of this, many teenagers don’t know when and why different forms of speech should be used, nor how to utilize these varied communication skills.
Being able to make a phone call, write an email, or create a professional sounding text message is an important life skill. Some people don’t master this until later in life, if at all. The ability to communicate is necessary; it shows maturity and seriousness as a young person. Having a fear of making phone calls is largely associated with fearing public speaking. Both involve speaking to someone new, and the possibility of rejection. Overcoming the fear of communication early can benefit a teen.
My parents started me out with ordering my own food at restaurants. As I got better at doing that, my dad would make me call and order a pizza. Later, my mom would make me cancel a dance lesson when I was sick and reschedule for another day. When I first started making these calls, I was super nervous. I was a shy kid, and talking to anyone that wasn’t a friend of one of my family members made me anxious.
Calling places to talk to someone I know, like my dance studio, still makes me nervous. If I see a person regularly and I mess up, they might remember or they might laugh. These are highly improbable situations, but I can’t help but let my mind trail to them. Calling somewhere, such as a store, or ordering something over the phone is less stressful now that I have practiced. The thought is that I will never speak to this person again. Now, I am comfortable with making my own phone calls.
Writing emails and text messages is much easier than making calls. Sounding professional and friendly is key. I sent a text to my tennis coach (that I had never met before!) asking about uniform sizing, what they went over that day during the meeting in school, and what I would need for open courts. Once, I sent an email to my Spanish teacher, informing her that I am a dancer and would love to help in class when we got to studying art and dance.
Here are some communication skills tips to help you when making calls and writing emails and texts:
For Media Communication
- End with a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Respectfully.’
- Address the person you’re speaking to as Miss, Ms., Mrs., or Mr. This shows that you respect them. If you do not know if a woman is married, use Ms.
- Get to the point of what you’re talking about within the first couple sentences.
- Use proper capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. Use spellcheck. Help yourself as much as you can.
- Always communicate who, what, when, where, and why
Phone Communication tips
- Fake being confident. This can help convince yourself that you have this call under control.
- Have a calendar in front of you, so you know when you and your parents are free.
- Practice or write down what you’re going to say, to keep your thoughts on track
- Don’t use filler words such as ‘um’ and ‘like’
- Don’t use words you don’t know to sound smart. You might use them incorrectly, and come across the opposite of what you want.
I used these tips, and now I’m confident in writing emails and making phone calls. It only takes a few phone calls and some practice to get comfortable with speaking formally to people. Mastering these communication skills while young can benefit you in job interviews and making your own appointments when you’re older.