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Can I Improve My Understanding of Oral Communication?

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I have trouble with oral communication, especially at work. When someone talks to me, it takes a count of two before I understand, longer if they are a stranger, I am stressed or under pressure. If it is oral instructions, I will forget them the second the situation changes. I do excellent in school, but this is really hurting me at my part-time customer service job. I’ve been working there a year and my supervisor thinks I just don’t care about my job. My self esteem is plummeting and I’m starting to wonder if maybe I haven’t been trying my best or perhaps my best just isn’t good enough. My family thinks I am just slightly autistic, but I’ve never been tested. How can I improve my comprehension of oral communication and show my boss that I do care? (age 20, from US)

Can I Improve My Understanding of Oral Communication?

Answered by on -


A: I’m sorry that you are having these problems. I’d say that the best way to let your boss know that you care is to speak to him about it privately. Let him know that you realize you struggle with some aspects of the job but that you really want to improve your performance and feel more comfortable at work. Ask him directly if he has any suggestions, such as a special training program or a job coach. Show him that you are motivated and willing to put in time and effort to improve.

It might also be helpful to seek out your own services outside of the job. Working with an occupational therapist, a vocational rehab specialist or a therapist who works with communication and cognitive processing issues may help you overcome your obstacles and gain confidence. And finally, if there is any concern that you may be on the autism spectrum, why not be assessed by a psychologist? Knowing more about both your strengths and weaknesses can only help you gain the skills to fill in the gaps in your communication. Good luck.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Can I Improve My Understanding of Oral Communication?

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Can I Improve My Understanding of Oral Communication?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.