Questions 1-5. Communication: Learning New Skills
1. Learning New Skills
I want to improve my listening skills but also I want to learn how I can make myself better understood. Learning how to use feedback would be very helpful. The transactional model by Professor Barnlund seems like a really good one to be able to put into practice (Barnlund, 1968 & Sole Chapt. 2, p. 16). Learning to recognize public cues, private cues and behavioral cues will be good.
It’s important to me to be a good leader; to do that I need to have self-respect and the respect of others. To gain respect I have to be able to show that I respect others and I think a big part of that is being a good listener. Learning the six fundamental principles of interpersonal communication has given me some food for thought.
Two of the principles “Communication is unrepeatable” and “Communication is irreversible” I had never heard before. (Sole Chapt. 2, p. 17). First of all I work with people from all over the US and I work overseas in different cultures so like they say “First impressions are everything.” It’s true that a lot of the time I only have one chance to communicate with some people and I need to get it right.
2. The “Self” and Communication
There are a lot of people who I want to have a good opinion of me. At work that is how I will get promotions and have job satisfaction. At home I want to get along with my family and friends. So the “looking glass concept” makes sense. It matters what other people think (Sole Chapt. 3, p. 4). I agree that “self-concept” is a choice we make. We can care about what other people think but, we don’t have to agree with them. We have to think about what we want be like and find ways to achieve our goal (Sole Chapt. 3, p. 5). I would say my self-image is based on the jobs I’ve had. Also my self-image means that I am father and husband so my family has a big impact on my self-image. I like Branden’s description of self-esteem “the immune system of your spirit that helps you bounce back from adversity” (Sole Chapt. 3, p. 10).Self-esteem (“confidence in your ability to cope with the basic challenges of life and a belief that you are worth of happiness”) is something that parents need to give to their children by being a model for them and teaching them good values (Sole Chapt. 3, p. 10).
Question 3 Improving Verbal Communication
The most important part of Chapter 4 was learning about meta-messages. I studied all the examples trying to remember which ones I have heard at work from someone or which ones I have used. It’s important to use words carefully and understand their meaning. Reading the meaning in a dictionary isn’t the only meaning words have though. I have always used words based on their dictionary meaning but this chapter explains will how words are really the symbols of reality (Sole Chapt. 4, p.24). The same words can be rude or nice depending on who is saying the words and how they say the words. For example, “Are you still here?” can sound mean and rude. “Are you still here?” can also be said in a nice to find out if someone is still around because you still want to spend more time with them (Sole Chapt. 4, p. 10). It’s an example of a metamessage that can change meaning by the way a person uses vocal inflection (Sole Chapt. 5, p. 5).
4. Nonverbal Miscommunication
Nonverbal communication is something I want to learn a lot more about. With my wife I think understanding what she is not saying can help me communicate with her better. I work in different countries so cultural differences are really important to understand (Sole Chapt. 5, p. 6). Both verbal and non-verbal communication can make the difference between having a new friend or making an enemy. Looking people directly in the eye when I talk to them is important to me. My Dad taught me that honest, direct people will look you in the eye too. But sometimes that does backfire. In some cultures looking at a woman in the eye and reaching to shake her hand when you meet her can make a lot of trouble. I have made a mistake doing that on a trip I had to make to a foreign country. I felt the people around me tense up so I changed my behavior quickly. I didn’t mean any disrespect to the women or men from the other country. This was a cultural difference I had to remember in my interactions (Sole Chapt. 5, pp.9, 10).
5. Everyone has a culture.
I am from San Francisco, California. I am half Puerto Rican and half Irish. Both cultures have very strong traditions and I’m proud of my heritage. My father was a very disciplined man. He got that from his father. He taught us great values. I admire my father and he helped make me the man I am today.
I would say I was never really part of a “macho” culture when I was a teenager. I mean that in the way that a lot of young men are disrespectful towards women. My mother has a strong personality and my father always valued her opinions. They had loud arguments but that was mostly due to the cultures they were from. They both came from emotional cultures that added some drama to their arguments.
I am pursuing a military career so communication is something I need to do well every day. It is a challenge to work with people from all over the United States. I meet a lot of people from other countries in my job, too. Having parents with ties to cultures in two different parts of the world makes me notice more of the cultural differences in people. I try to respect those differences. I know the importance of body language and facial expressions (Sole Chapt. 5, pp. 13, 14).
Barnlund, D. C. 1968. Interpersonal Communication: Survey and Studies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Print.
Sole, K. 2011.Making the Connections: Understanding Interpersonal Communication. Ashford University, Bridgepoint Eudcation, Inc. San Diego. Print.