Can communication competence be learned?

13 Jan 2022

No matter what level your communication competence is, there’s always room for improvement. Which begs the question, can communication competence be learned?

If you aren’t sure, check out what communication competence is and how to measure communication competence.

The good news is yes, communication competence can be learned. In this article you’ll find a four-step process to improve your communication competence.

  • First, select the category of competence you want to learn
  • Second, choose the competence area to improve within the main category
  • Third, identify the most valuable skills in the category that you want to learn
  • Finally, Study and practice the techniques for those skills

Step 1: Pick from the two categories of communication competence

Communication competence is measured by answering 12 questions. These questions fit into two categories of communication.

  1. Creating and delivering communication (encoding).
  2. Receiving communication (decoding).

These are the two main roles in the standard communication model.

The first thing you need to do is pick which category you want to work. You should plan to work on both categories eventually, but it is best to learn one thing at a time. So, pick the category that best suits your needs. If you’re not sure where to start either pick the one that will help you at work, or the one you are weakest at.

To help you pick a category, these are the competence assessment areas in each category.

Creating and delivering (encode) Receiving (decode)
Command of language Good listener
Gets to the point Easy to talk to
Deals with others effectively Responds quickly to messages
Writing is easy to understand Pays attention
Expresses ideas clearly Sensitive to other’s needs
Speaking is easy to understand
Says the right thing at the right time

Step 2: Choose the competence area to improve

Having selected the main category, you now choose the competence area to improve. The specific competences are listed in the table above.

For example, you might choose

If you’ve got results from the competence assessment you may want to start with your weakest result. If you haven’t taken the assessment yet you can find out more about it here.

Once you know the competence to improve the next step is to identify the specific skills that make up the competence.

Step 3: Identify the specific skills to learn or improve

As with most things in life, there is more than one path to reach a destination. The same is true when picking the skills to improve communication competence. There are over 100 specific communication skills, each has multiple techniques and methods. Many of the skills can help improve more than one of the communication competence areas.

Here are some examples of skills for the main communication competence areas.

Competence area Skills required
Command of language Good vocabulary, eloquence, grammar, being able to describe something in different ways
Get to the point Clear, concise, identify what’s important, concreteness, knowing when to stop
Deals with others effectively Rapport building, understanding the audience, inspiration, persuasion, negotiation, body language
Writing is easy to understand Structure, grammar, knowing what’s important
Expresses ideas clearly Structure, clarity, perspective
Speaking is easy to understand Tone of voice, structure, clarity,
Says the right thing at the right time Understanding the audience, knowing when to stop, perspective

Note that none of these skills include skills like public speaking or presenting. Public speaking isn’t a single skill. It is something you do that uses a lot of specific communication skills. Likewise, presenting required the ability to structure a message and get to the point. Think about what you most want to achieve when identifying the specific skill you want to learn. That’ll help you pick the right things.

It isn’t practical to learn every type of communication skill. You need to pick the specific skills you want to learn. These will most likely be the skills that are relevant to your work. If you aren’t sure which skills to learn first, check out this list. It includes 15 fundamental communication skills everybody need to learn.

Step 4: Study and practice the skills

After you’ve identified the skills that you want to learn, all that’s left is to learn them. There are lots of resources available for learning each of the different skills. The internet is full of information, books and courses you can take. Some of those books and courses are available right here on my site. Feel free to take a look and start improving your communication competence today.


Communication competence can be learned if you follow these four steps. If you try to learn everything all at once, you’ll be overwhelmed. Start by picking the category to focus on first. Then identify the competency area and specific skills that will most help you in your work. Take the time to learn and practice each skill before moving onto something else. It wont take long to build up your competence level and before you know it you’ll be a competent communicator.

For more information about communication competence, check out the 11 most commonly asked questions about communication competence.

If you want to give your communication skills a big boost, check out the online course to start communicating clearly at work.