Over the course of the semester I have learned and grown remarkably in my listening and leaderships skills. EDPS 315 has been an extremely beneficial course over the semester and one of the most important classes that I have taken thus far in my educational career. Going into the course I did not think that it would have made this much of an impact on my life but I have seen myself grown as a person more in this class than any of my other courses.
Unlike my other classes that are specifically directed to my major, like chemistry and biology classes, that teach you book smarts, this class has taught me important street smart skills that are applicable in my professional and personal relationships. Over the course of the semester I have seen many improvements in my strengths and have identified areas for future growth. Not only have I seen growth in my own skills but I have also learned what it means to be an emotionally intelligent leader. Along with that, the ability to apply the skills of active listening and ways to cope with difficult conversations to my leadership skills.
First off, the past twelve weeks have helped me identified areas that I excel at in my leadership and listening skills. Shankman, Allen, and Curran in their book “Emotionally Intelligent Leadership,” simply put it that an essential responsibility of effective leadership is developing others. Not just developing others in the skill or task that they are working on right now but developing them for a lifetime (Shankman, Allen, & Curran 2015). Thus, they continue to excel as a person and then they too can pass those skills on to others.
Learning through the book about coaching and what it means to be an effective leader in coaching helped me to identify this skill when I reflect back on my past, person experiences. Yes, I was coaching in the literal sense when I was the captain of my lacrosse team for three years but I also find myself helping and coaching my friends every day with their problems. That is something that I found, through taking personality test at the Career Center Opportunities here at Purdue, that I need in my life to make my life have purpose. I am graced with the natural born ability to lead and coach others.
Emotionally Intelligent Leadership,” has helped me grown in my skill and passion to coach others by teaching me key coaching behaviors that will yield greater results. Some of which include to approach coaching as a mutually beneficial relationship, not just a one-sided approach, and the importance of my willingness to initiate conversations and meaningful interactions with whomever I am coaching (Shankman, Allen, & Curran 2015). Both of these skills show the other person that you respect them and in turn they will match that mutual respect and cooperate with you when you are telling them ways that they can improve.
If you are not willing to put in the time and effort to have a mutual beneficial relationship by engaging in meaning conversation the other will not just want to listen to some random person that is “bossing them around,” as they might interpret it. Along with the strengths that I already possessed, throughout this course I have also acquired new strengths from growing in my skills. Second, a place where I have seen the most professional growth is in my active listening skills. EDPS has shaped me into being a compassionate, thoughtful, and honest active listener to my friends, family, and coworkers.
I thought that I knew what it meant to be an active listener but until I learned to skills and practiced it, I learned how much room I had for improvement. The book that taught me the most about active listening throughout this course is, “The Lost Art of Listening,” by Michael Nichols. What I took away, and use most from the entire book is that the heart of listening is the suspend your own needs (Nichols 2009). Genuine listening demands taking an interest in the speaker and what he or she has to say and not thinking about what your next comeback is going to be (Nichols 2009).
Doing so really opens your ears and mind up to fully listen to what the underlying message that the speaker is trying to get across because most of the time there is a deeper meaning to what they are saying. I also realized that even when you do have the opportunity to talk, still holding back your feeling to dive deeper into the other person thought process can be more beneficial to the conversation to make it more effective because you are showing to that person that you value what they are saying and want to learn more.
That then in turn can lead to them valuing your opinion and create a safe environment to not hold back your thoughts and feelings. I have practiced this skill throughout the semester and saw major growth in my listening skills and my relationships with my peers. Just as I had suspected suspending my feelings has opened up a school new realm of listening and communication that I had not experienced before this class. As I have mentioned not only has my listening skills improved but I have come to find that people are much more comfortable to opening up and sharing information with me than they used to.
Also I have received feedback from my peers that I am super easy to get along with because I am such a great listener and well at communicating with other; therefore, conversations seem to flow seamlessly. With all that being said there are still areas in my skills that can use some improvements. Thirdly, an area that still needs future growth is my ability to handle difficult conversations. I think that hardest part of difficult conversations for me is not so much the conversation in itself it is the anticipation of the conversation.
Whenever I need to have a difficult conversation I get so nervous about how the conversation is going to go or scared how the other person is going to react that I usually do not even have the conversation. I make preconceptions about the situation and usually scare myself off. I either just ignore the problem or just submerge it and try to forget about it which both are probably worse off than just having the conversation in itself. From the book, “Difficult Conversation,” by Stone, Patton, and Heen, I learned the stages of going about a difficult conversation of order for it to be effective.
The stages of a difficult conversation include: to prepare by walking through the three conversations, checking my purposes and deciding whether to raise an issue, to start the conversation from the third story, exploring their story and yours, and then finish with problem solving (Stone, Patton, & Heen 2010). I still need to fine tune and work on my effective use of all these stages but it is helpful in my growth to now know these stages to approach and better deal with a difficult conversation.
Since learning these skills I have not had too many difficult conversations in my life in order to practice these but I am confident that when the opportunity arises that I will have the tools I need to better adapt to the situation. A goal that I have about this area of improvement is primarily to build confidence in myself when it comes to difficult conversation and not psych myself out before the conversation even happens. If I am able to practice and use these skills that I have learned from, “Difficult conversations,” I believe that one day I will no longer be shy about confronting somebody with a difficult conversation.
Furthermore, the best way that I have assessed being able to work on this area of growth is when I have a difficult conversation that I am considering addressing, to physically sit down and map out these stages on a note pad. I am a visual learner and therefore, if I go through and write out these different stages on paper and am able to visually see the conversation that will build my confidence and ease my tensions about bringing out the conversation to the other person.
I will have mapped out, potentially, how the conversation it going to go thus if I get stuck or something else similar I will know what else to say or where else to go with the conversation. Going along with that, just like how role plays greatly improved my active listening skills I think that role plays going through difficult conversation could also help me in this aspect. Role plays are a great tool to use when you want to practice a skill in communication with other and is another part of this class that I will take away as beneficial. All in all, EDPS 315 was a remarkably beneficial class to take this semester.
I have learned and grown in my strengths, which include coaching and active listening, and also identified areas of myself that can use improvement in the future. Not only have I just learned more about myself but this course has given me useful tools to use in active listening and difficult conversation that will help me grow in my leadership skills. Just seeing how much I had grown as a person and as a leader in the past twelve weeks has me excited to see how far I can go with all of it. I am ready to take on more leadership skills knowing that I have the ability to effectively direct and communicate with my peers.