For the first part of this assignment I was required to report on how I saw myself as a communicator. I would say the most salient point of that paper is that I see myself as somewhat shy or an introvert. Now, for this assignment I have interviewed my dad, my wife and a coworker (who is also a friend) to see how they see me as a communicator. I have known these individuals for a very long time and I have had many conversations with them over the years. For this paper I will report on the results of these interviews and summarize my findings.
My dad had some interesting comments about my listening, saying that I listened to all he had to say, but whether I acted upon it, or retained it depended on me. If I was interested in the conversation or subject being discussed then I was more likely to pay attention, contribute, and retain the information.
My wife said for the most part I’m a good listener. However, if I’m into video games, or I’m playing with the dog, then she feels I’m either not paying attention to her, or I’m not hearing what she’s says. She said one of her concerns is when she tries to have a serious conversation with me but I turn it into a joke. She says this leads her to believe that I am not taking her seriously.
My coworker said that I’m actually a great listener. He said that I’m very attentive and that I can remember most of the conversation. He went on to say that I know when to pause or when not to pause, I listen to words precisely and listen for every word, and that I have great eye contact. I was pleased when he said that I am one of the few people that does not interrupt someone when they are speaking.
Although I knew that I have a hard time hiding my feelings, it was still surprising to learn that my dad and my wife noticed things that I had never thought about. For example, my wife said that my voice gets squeaky when I am nervous and my dad said that my face turns red when I am either embarrassed or if the conversation is uncomfortable. They both have noticed this when I am in a group of people who use crude language or tell off-color jokes.
My coworker had a hard time coming up with an answer to this question, so I prompted him by asking if he could tell what I am thinking or what I am going to say without me saying it. And then he gave a big laugh and told me about a time he knew I didn’t want to do something our boss asked me to do even though I said to the boss, “Sure, I’d be glad to do that.” So in that regard, he said that I can be pretty easy to read sometimes.
My dad commented that I’m fairly competent in this department. However, he did mention it was difficult to get information out of me during the time my wife and I were engaged because I was in “La-La Land.”
My wife said I’m pretty fair at expressing myself though I sometimes dance around the concern for a while before I say it to her.
My coworker stated that I’m great at articulating my view, but if someone does not want to listen to me, I don’t give them the time of day after that. He also said he thinks sometimes that I go silent if someone says something to me that they might have not meant or did not use the correct word in the correct setting. I was surprised to hear that he doesn’t think I’m timid or shy, and that helps me express my needs without fear. He went on to say I’m direct with my concerns, opinions, and views and it is great to know how I feel and where I stand on things.
My dad struggled with this one because he’s not a big communicator himself, and so I didn’t get anything feedback from him about my weaknesses.
My wife said my turning things into a joke isn’t always a bad thing, but I need to get better at reading the when it is okay and when it isn’t.
My coworker said that my biggest weakness is that sometimes I take things too literally and don’t let people forget what they have said. He went on to say it’s also good though, because the person learns how to better communicate with me in the future if they pay attention.
My dad says I like to listen to all the sides, then state the facts and that’s that. Some communicators like to say a lot of nothing and embellish a lot of the information. He said I’m more didactical, meaning “here’s the point, here it is and that’s it.”
My wife says as long as I’m not fidgeting or goofing off somehow then I’m a good communicator. She told me I’m very effective at communicating to her on how to fix issues, or when I’m helping her with her homework.
My coworker told me my biggest strengths are my listening skills, which, according to him, are far greater than most.
What is it like to have a conversation with me? My dad said that if the topic of conversation is interesting to me, then I will be more engaged in the conversation. For example if it’s something in the medical or pharmaceutical world then I can carry a very detailed conversation with someone. If I have no interest in the topic then it goes by the wayside. He said it’s something that all of us do and that we are more likely to pay attention to a subject that we enjoy and avoid the ones that are uninteresting or frustrating to us.
My wife says it’s pretty easy to have a conversation with me, as long as she knows she has my complete attention.
My coworker said it is fun to converse with me. He believes that sometimes I am very literal and other times I’m at the other end of the spectrum and totally goofy. On my literal side, if someone uses the wrong word choice, I let them know. On the goofy side, I know when it’s ok to have fun and joke around. He’s said that I’ve matured a lot since he first got to know me.
I was surprised to learn that that no one thought I had a weakness with articulating my concerns, opinions, or needs. I was also surprised to learn that even though I see myself as an introvert that no one else thought of me as being shy. When my coworker mentioned that I maintain eye contact I was shocked, because I thought that was something I needed to work on.
I would like to work on improving my communication with my wife. I need to devote more attention to her and practice the good eye contact mentioned by my coworker. I specifically need to turn off my video games when she wants to have a conversation. Eliminating these environmental barriers to effective listening will help us understand each other better (Adler, Elmhorst & Lucas, 2013). I need to be more respectful of conversations she feels are important and not turn them into a joke. I want her to know that she can talk to me about anything!
I also need to work on my communication with people outside my family. I need be careful of how literal I take some conversations, and I need to stop correcting people when they use a wrong word choice.
Overall I loved this assignment and I can see the potential that I can to improve my communication skills.
Alder, R., Elmhorst, J., & Lucas, K. (2013). Communicating at work: Strategies for success in business and the professions (11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.