My first communication strength is listening to my friends and family. I am very adept at listening to my friends and families because I’m competent at the five stages of listening, specifically: receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and respond. I have this uncle named Rajah who tells stories non-stop. He can start a story at eight in the morning, and then continue until three in the afternoon. His family would tune him out around ten- thirty, but I would listen because he loved attention and he was a very entertaining man (also I don’t see him as much so all his stories are new to me).
The reason he has lots to talk about is because he came to Canada five years ago, thus he has seen and experienced a lot back home in Sri Lanka. I tend to visit Toronto every summer, since most of my family members live there, so I always stay at his house. Since he’s more old school he does not let his children use technology as much as the other uncles and aunts do, he’s more old school in that he likes to do group activities in which everybody participates.
When I’m in the receiving stage of listening I try to be present in the moment when uncle Rajah talks; I try to avoid distractions as that is easy since like I said he’s more old school therefore there is less technology and noise. I do the same with my friends and families. Also during the receiving stage I maintain my role as listener by not interrupting as I feel that is rude and tends to make the other person lose their train of thought or concentration.
During the understanding stage I see the speaker’s message from the speaker’s point of view; for instance when my friend Becky was fired and she was ranting about how unfair she had it, I didn’t pretend to know how she can deal with it or overcome it simply because I had never been fired. I just understood what she said and felt the feelings she was going through. I told her that I’m not have experience in giving advice with this particular problem but that I will always be there for her.
Since Becky talks a lot and very fast I ask questions for clarification and that usually helps me understand her story better. The third stage is remembering so for instance Becky talks a lot and usually out of sequence (when she is telling a story she quickly forgets the main picture and starts talking about random things involved in the story- for instance she was telling me how rude a manager was to her while she was shopping, then she quickly changes the topic to how nice the shoes were that she purchased.
Furthermore I summarize what she says by identifying patterns and re-stating what she said clearly. The fourth stage is evaluate. To bring it back to my uncle Rajah people tend to judge him based on their first impression of him, since he is quite different from the norm. (I mean that in the nicest way possible). For myself it was difficult because | judged him based on his exterior appearance: he was loud, energetic and a little crazy, yet after getting to spend some time with him I realized he is a sensitive soul and is very caring.
Also since most of the time he is passionate about what he says, people misconstrue what he says as being silly, yet after listening to him for a long period of time I can say that he is a very wise man and though the delivery of his messages may be unorthodox, most of the time he knows what he’s talking about. The last stage of listening is the response stage.
Most of the time in a conversation people, especially men are likely to think of a response as opposed to listening to the person speaking, myself included I struggle with this a lot. In order to respond appropriately one must express support and understanding for the speaker and only talk/respond once the individual is done speaking. One must use backchanneling cues such as nodding and use appropriate facial expression for instance one is not going to smile while someone is telling an emotional story.
My second communication strength is dealing with conflict (with friends and family). My friends say I’m good at dealing with conflict. Anytime my friends have a conflict or an argument with someone they come to me for advice and help. One time my best friend James and his girlfriend got into a verbal argument about how many different partners he had in the past, this issue was especially pressing because his girlfriend had never known about his history.
So he came to me to vent and I listened, then he asked what he should do, and I told him to take responsibility in not disclosing that information and then let her know that his past does not determine his present or futurethat though he had a lot of partners that he is a committed boyfriend and tell her not to mistake being in a lot of relationships to not being a loyal guy, because I know him very well and he is one of the most loyal people that I have met. I don’t get into conflicts often, now I’m not saying that I never get into conflicts; it is just that I feel that conflict is unnecessary and I hate drama and conflict.
Sometimes being good at dealing with conflict can be a gift and a curse, as I can help a lot people, but sometimes I tend to avoid conflict even when it is necessary. That is my weakness and it is a positive benefit of conflict because when you talk things out you realize where you and your partner stand, also it lowers stress, as one is not repressing his/her feelings from the other. Conflict occurs when people are interdependent in other words your actions has consequences on another human being. For example, if my girlfriend is sad it has an affect on my mood.
Conflict can also occur if two people are chasing different goals. If my girlfriend wants to live in a house and I want to live in an apartment we will have conflict as if one goal is achieved the other cannot be achieved. There are 4 categories of conflict: goals to be pursued (house or apartment), allocation of resources such as money or time, decisions to be made (buy the house or apartment which impacts whether you either work full time or go to college), and acceptable or unacceptable behaviours.
Though I’m good at dealing with conflict in my personal life, it is difficult and a weakness of mine of dealing with it in my work. Particularly because I’m at a job that I really enjoy and do not want to go against the grain because I do not want to get fired or thought less of. Sometimes I disagree with something that my boss proposes, but I do not want to disagree in fear that he will get offended. Thus if there is a conflict in my workplace or a chance of a potential conflict, just avoid it.
I understand that conflict is not bad in the workplace and I will try to work on that particular issue because if I’m not being myself and authentic, then how important is the money? In addition the positive benefits of conflicts are to examine that otherwise might be avoided (for instance if my boss’ proposition is bad for the company I would helping the company if I offered a different alternative). There are five strategies of dealing with conflict: the first one is fighting actively which is instead of avoiding the conflict talking about it openly and honestly.
The second strategy is talking about the conflict and actually listening with an open mind. The third strategy is evaluation; that is instead of judging what the other person is saying, also changing the language from “you to l”, thus one accepts responsibility for this conflict. Changing you messages into I messages is productive because it reduces defensiveness while also making it safe for the other person to talk about the conflict openly and honestly. Although I’m good at listening to my friends and family I tend to be poor at listening during work.
For instance if I’m talking to a client sometimes I zone out and just respond on autopilot (cliche speak). There was this one time a co-worker was talking to me, but I was so busy in my paper work that I pretended to listen by nodding and using facial expressions as it turned out my co-worker told me to tell our boss that she was leaving early to pick up her children; I forgot to tell him (he was away when she left) and as a result he got very angry and scolded her which made her very humiliated and made me feel terrible.
I think I’m a poor listener at work because I tend to be a perfectionist so I focus on the task at hand too much. Since my boss uses the delegate style of leadership I put a ton of pressure on myself to complete the task thus I have to do a better job in the future of focusing on the task while also listening to co-workers and helping them as well. I tend to be a independent worker so I have to become better at being a interdependent person in the workplace and work better in teams. Thus I can unlock my highest potential while at the same time help someone reach his or her highest potential.