Communication Skills Self-Assessment Interpersonal Communication Speech and Essay

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Communication Skills Self-Assessment

Interpersonal Communication

Speech and language pathologists are considered to be experts in the field of interpersonal communication. Yet these professionals readily agree that although they may be experts in disorders of communication, they "are not experts in 'communication,' particularly that of interpersonal communication" (Montgomery, 2006). A fundamental reason that someone might not be skilled in interpersonal communication is that they have difficulty attending to and processing all of the unpredictable things that happen during interpersonal transactions (Montgomery, 2006). One factor that underlays successful interpersonal communication is the ability to make others feel comfortable and engaged as communication partners (Montgomery, 2006).

(a) Consideration of communication partners. I believe that my interpersonal communication skills are strong, and I base this belief on the following ideas. The place to begin in communication is with clear articulation and complete thoughts. It is frustrating to be a communication partner with someone who does not speak clearly or who does not provide enough information -- in the form of both verbal and nonverbal language -- to be understood without expending considerable effort. An important consideration is that interpersonal communication in many contemporary settings takes place with people for whom English may be a second language. This fact underscores the importance of speaking clearly, something that I believe that I do reasonably well. I am generally a poised and confident communication partner and tend not to get ruffled in conversations. I strive to present a serene exterior, yet all the while convey that I am interested in what my communication partner has to say. In other words, I work at being an active listener, too. Should my position or stand that I have expressed be questioned or challenged, I strive to remain calm and collected. I remind myself to smile, but am careful not to have my smile come across mockingly or disparagingly. Mentally, I think to myself, "Be kind" and find that this mantra smooths my communication -- and my brow. On those occasions when I don't know how to answer a question, I am quick to say that is the case. The important thing is to be confidently positive and not defensive. Most people warm to someone who seems vulnerable -- in fact, scientists in sociology argue that vulnerability and authenticity are exactly what enables us to make strong connections with others (Brown, 2013). So, in situations where I feel vulnerable, I remind myself to turn up the charm a notch or two. However, I also try to be mindful of gender issues when adapting my communication to demonstrate vulnerability, sensitivity, and authenticity; disregarding gender issues in communication can foster stereotypical hardening. That is to say that stereotypical thinking is strengthened by observations or perceptions that confirm the stereotypes that are held by an individual.

(b) Communication perspectives. This brief discussion of interpersonal communication resonates with the communication perspective that I tend to embrace the most: the social constructivist view. An emphasis on being considerate of communication partners and sensitive to the meanings that they attach to words and symbols is concordant with a view that there are multiple meanings in play during interpersonal communication. Notably, the meanings of words and symbols can and often do change over time. While the individual meanings of words, symbols, and gestures evolve, the core of communication that resides in facial expressions and body postures tend to be more stable over the long-term. All of this to say that, interpersonal communication is well served when as many of these elements as possible are in place during a communication transaction. The absence of any or several of these elements -- additive to the cultural changes that are quite continuous in the digital age -- is quite natural the reason why text messages, emails, and phone calls are sometimes misunderstood or misconstrued.

2. Group Communications

As a natural introvert, I tend not to dominate group situations, holding back just a bit in order to let others influence the trajectory of the group communications. I can hold my own in conversations, as explained in the section on interpersonal communication; however, I do like to see where people take a conversation before jumping in. In a less charitable analysis, I presume to attribute this habit to my desire to "assess" the other members of the group. All of that said, if conversation bogs down completely or becomes -- in my opinion -- unbearably crude or intellectually sloppy, I will start begin to steer the communication exchanges by asking people question. In general, people are notorious for enjoying talking about themselves, so I find this to be both diverting and a process that contributes significantly to my understanding of the people in the group -- when they are not well-known to me.

(a) Personal traits related to communication. My personal attributes that are most noticeable during group communication situations are that I am adaptable, courteous, curious, enthusiastic, and helpful. As the constitution of the group changes, I am able to adapt my communication content and strategies. People immediately sense that I am courteous and helpful as I seek out ways to demonstrate these characteristics. I believe that I am courteous and helpful because I am reflexively positive, but also because it is strategically smart to be seen as courteous and helpful when participating in group situations -- people warm to helpful individuals, unless they are intrusive or bumbling in their efforts, and people tend to attach a positive valence to helpful individuals. Moreover, I am curious about people, which is where my ability to ask productive questions of others comes into play, and I am enthusiastic about engaging in interesting conversations with others.

(b) Modus operandi. I do consider myself territorial since when I am on my home ground, I tend to like a certain pattern language to dominate. I prefer some order in my environment and don't like to see it disrupted; however, since I am also adaptable, I can tolerate what I don't like. Although I don't like competition especially, I do like to receive credit for my own accomplishments. I assume there is considerable evidence of territoriality in this trait. I find it difficult if a co-worker, for instance, tries to co-opt my work. While I am open to suggestions for improvement, I like to self-manage and direct my work -- and then I stand ready to accept whatever kudos, salvos, criticism, or condemnation that comes my way with respect to that work (that I have owned). Hence, when receiving feedback from others, I tend to ask for specifics (what, exactly) and rationale (why that, exactly).

I tend to maintain a large personal space bubble, which, come to think of it, is in concert with my territoriality. I have a few friends who have lived in New York City for part of their lives, and they invariably stand very close when talking to others. Although I know it is coming, I find myself stepping backward and away from these friends when I am talking to them. It is futile, however, because no matter how hard I try to discreetly retreat, they always somehow notice and close the gap again. My movements are barely perceptible -- and with the intensity of their focus on my face -- I wonder how they notice at all what my feet are doing; but they do. So, in these instances, it doesn't matter how large or small my personal space bubble is -- their space bubbles dominate. What is obvious here is that there is a mismatch between the dimensions of my personal space bubble and the dimensions to which my friends think my personal space bubble should hold. I try to stay focused on their words, expressions, and the content of their message, but I can honestly say that it is hard.

(c) Family communications. For all the strength of diligently honed communication skills, I notice that there is decidedly some deterioration when I am in a family context. A key difference distinction between a consideration of interpersonal communication and group communication is the variable referred to as roles. Communication theorists and psychologists hold that the familial roles we encountered -- and enacted -- growing up tend to have a lasting effect on our approaches to communication. These theories reached an apex several decades ago when books such as The Games People Play dominated populist communication (Berne, 1996). I confess to being as susceptible as the next person to slipping back into old tried and true roles that reflect the structure and norms of my family.

3. Organizational Communications

(a) Vertical communication. Communication in organizations is both lateral and vertical (Dessein, 2002). Vertical communication is manifested by the flow of information from the top-most levels of an organizational hierarchy to the lowest levels (Spillan, et al., 2002). Formal governance and leadership structures in corporations, for example, exhibit this directional movement of information, all the while demonstrating the impact on effective and complete communication that strictly described operations or functional units impose (Spillan,…[continue]

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