SMART Goals For Improving Communication Skills: A Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

SMART goal planning is a tool to help you achieve your goals. A goal without a plan is just a wish, so it is important to be intentional in what you want to achieve. Knowing what SMART goals are and how you can use them to improve communication skills can help you verify at every point if you can achieve the desired results with the steps you are taking. In this article, we break down SMART goal planning and share some tips on using this technique to achieve your communication goals, along with practical examples.

Read more: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

What Are SMART Goals For Improving Communication Skills?

SMART goals for improving communication skills are essential for career success, no matter your profession. Communication proficiency is one of the most crucial skills in a professional setting, and you can improve your skills by using the SMART method. Here is an explanation of what the SMART acronym stands for, along with examples of how to use this technique to improve your communication skills:

1. Specific

The first step of setting a SMART goal is to determine exactly what you want to achieve. Be as precise as possible and define your specific goal before acting on it. Instead of aiming for a vague objective or an emotional incentive, determine what you want to change, how you plan to do it, what actions you can take and why you want to change.

For example, while setting a specific goal for improving your communication skills, instead of aiming to make your communication style friendlier, it would be more effective to have a specific goal, such as to approach each conversation with a positive attitude and open mind and ask questions to understand the other person's situation to make them feel seen and heard.

Related: A Guide To The 7 Cs Of Communication

2. Measurable

The second step of setting a SMART goal is to determine how you are going to know when you have reached your target. Use quantifiable metrics in your answer to help you track your progress and analyse your outcome. This can help you re-evaluate and adjust your plan as necessary. Add numbers or specific qualities to the goal, like a certain number of attendees at an event, a percentage of responses or repetitions of a task. When you achieve your milestones, remember to reward yourself in small but meaningful ways.

For example, to make your communication goals more measurable, instead of aiming to be better at communicating during meetings, try setting a goal to express your opinions during meetings and to ask your supervisor for feedback at the end of each meeting. You could measure this by keeping track of how many responses you get from your colleagues after you raise a question or present an idea and aim to get at least 70% positive feedback and a 60% response rate.

Related: Verbal Communication Examples In The Workplace (With Tips)

3. Attainable

The third step of setting a SMART goal is to determine whether it possible to accomplish the goal you have set. Assess this realistically to ensure your goal is neither too easy nor too challenging to reach. Two ways to make a goal realistic are either decreasing the scope of the goal or increasing the time frame. An attainable yet challenging goal can keep you motivated and help you understand the limits of your capabilities.

For example, while setting an attainable communication goal, it would be unrealistic to aim to be fluent in writing sales emails in English for overseas clients within two weeks if you have only recently started writing sales emails in English. A more realistic goal would be to learn how to write effective sales emails in English for overseas clients within three months.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your English Communication Skills

4. Relevant

The fourth step of setting a SMART goal is to determine whether your goal aligns with your long-term plans and values. Be clear about your intentions behind setting a certain communication goal and what difference achieving that goal can make. When goals are relevant to your work, accomplishing them is more meaningful and positively impacts those around you, including your workplace and community.

For example, if you are a writer, setting a goal to become better at public speaking may seem irrelevant. So instead aiming to be a better public speaker because it seems like a useful skill to have, state a more genuine reason that aligns with your career path, such as to get better at public speaking with the aim of confidently providing online writing classes.

Related: Types Of Public Speaking Skills And How To Improve Them

5. Time-bound

The fifth and last step of setting a SMART goal is to establish a timeframe or deadline by which you intend to achieve your aim. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to reach your target. While you may want to constantly improve your communication skills, it may be more challenging to track your progress if you do not set a definite timeframe to attain a specific goal. An end date can provide motivation and help you prioritise. If you have not achieved your goal in that timeframe, take time to consider why.

For example, if you want to resolve workplace conflicts more efficiently, instead of aiming to be better at resolving conflicts through open communication, include a timeframe, such as to increase your percentage of successful conflict resolution by 15% each quarter.

Tips For Setting SMART Goals For Improving Communication Skills

Follow these tips to improve your results using the SMART planning method:

  • Think ahead. Focus on the end goal you want to achieve and imagine how it can impact your professional life. Think ahead about the problems you may face in achieving that goal.

  • Break down your goals. Assign yourself smaller tasks that lead up to the bigger goal. This can help you plan ahead, and completing smaller tasks helps keep you motivated.

  • Employ a systemic formula. Write down your plan in detail. This can help you visualise how to move from point A to point B in an organised manner.

  • Track your progress. Set daily, weekly or monthly progress checks to see how you have developed. Also, plan how much progress you want to make in the future.

  • Set goals you can control. Ensure you have control over all aspects of your goal. If there are factors that depend on other people, then you may be reliant on others to complete their parts, which may affect your chances of success.

  • Set a strict deadline. Do not keep your goals open-ended and flexible. If you cannot achieve a goal by a certain deadline, stop and assess what you can improve instead of pushing the deadline back further.

  • Reassess your goals. Determine what you need and what works for you in the present. Keep updating your goals based on your current requirements instead of sticking to the same goal you created in the past.

2 Examples Of Setting SMART Goals For Better Communication Abilities

Here are some ways you can incorporate the SMART method when setting your communication goals:

Example 1

If you want to improve your communication skills when serving customers, here is what your SMART goal may look like:

  • Specific: Improve customer satisfaction by answering customers' queries, explaining complicated matters and resolving any problems.

  • Measurable: Increase customer service rating from 80% to 85%.

  • Achievable: Paying attention to customers' problems and communicating more clearly helps improve customer service ratings.

  • Relevant: Learning to communicate better can help provide better customer service, which may lead to an eventual promotion.

  • Time-bound: Improve customer service rating over the next four months.

Example 2

If you want to improve your communication skills to provide better feedback to subordinates, here is what your SMART goal may include:

  • Specific: Provide articulate feedback with a positive tone to improve employee performance and foster a healthier approach to work.

  • Measurable: Check in each week for the duration of the goal to see how the employee has received the feedback and whether they are using the advice.

  • Achievable: Providing constructive criticism along with proper incentives for improvement helps improve the employee's quality of work.

  • Relevant: Improving communication skills to provide more effective individual feedback can increase employee satisfaction and boost productivity.

  • Time-bound: At the end of a quarter, the employee's work meets a certain standard.

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