Saturday, 27 September 2014

Week 4 Blog : Who Am I As a Communicator?

This week I learned that I often have a very different communication style with work colleagues in comparison to the way I communicate with my friends and family. For the purpose of this week’s task I asked my boyfriend and one of my work colleagues to evaluate my anxiety level during communication, my verbal assertiveness level as well as my listening skills. I was a little bit sad to note that often the strategies I put in place to be an effective communicator and listener in my workplace, I do not use in my own home.
Several of the test questions are directed at formal contexts (small group meetings, time management etc.) so I believe that these questions changed the context as well. For example, my boyfriend said that during the anxiety survey, he had to base his answers on what I have shared with him at home. He made comments on presentations, public speaking etc. that he said he knew I probably did well on but at home “was a total mess” in preparation for such tasks. I wonder if responses would have changed had I asked another co-worker and compared the two or if I had asked a girlfriend outside of work rather than a female co-worker. When I looked over the results from a co-worker with regards to the anxiety test, she said that I seem very at ease during meetings and is often impressed by the way I communicate my ideas and opinions in a way that it concise, polite and to the point. When I shared with her that I am very uncomfortable and nervous communicating with others she was shocked. I try very hard to keep my nervousness to myself during meetings, presentations and training but my boyfriend sees the meltdown (Ha!) or nervousness before I head into work.

   I noticed in reviewing all of the evaluations that my perception of my communication skills and listening skills differed from home and work and changed depending on what I "allowed" others to see in a professional context versus the comfort of my own home. Chris also mentioned that it was a difficult task because for the anxiety test he thought of me with regards to work while in completing the other two tests he was able to relate to the way I communicate with him. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Communication Growth

Cultural diversity exists within my school, in my neighborhood, within my workplace and even within my family. Culture is made up of different cultures which include race, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, varying abilities and even individual family cultures.

I definitely communicate differently with people from different groups and cultures. For example, when working with my autistic students, part of our life skills curriculum goals is to carry on a conversation using various strategies. We are working on using eye contact, nodding and gesturing to show presence within a conversation, having a “two-way conversation” involving questioning about one’s interests and what is being said and not repeating the same ideas over and over again. When talking with these students I model this behavior and give elaborate praise when these strategies are put to use. During everyday conversations with friends and family I am more natural and am not taking on the role of a teacher. When working with young children I speak to their level and tend to gesture a lot especially when teaching French to learners as a second language. With that said, being bilingual, I speak French in my work place as I teach in a French community and Francophone school but have friends and family who only speak English. While speaking with close friends who are bilingual, I tend to switch back and forth between both languages, however, in my role as a teacher I only speak French to my Principal and with my students because it is a cultural expectation. When participating in professional development opportunities and collaborating with other professionals, I use language that is appropriate for the content and context while in other situations I am not concerned with formality. I love talking to my boyfriend and we share a lot about our individual professional lives but because he is not in the same field I feel as though he does not understand in the way that my friends who are teachers do. I tend to talk differently and in more detail with them than I would with him.

This week we learned about cultural myopia and the platinum rule. Cultural myopia is when "Individuals who fail to consider other cultural perspectives are said to suffer from cultural myopia, a form of nearsightedness grounded in the belief that one's own culture is appropriate and relevant in all situations and to all people" (O'Hair & Wiemann, p. 45, 2012). The platinum rule asks us to treat people the way that they wish to be treated in comparison to the golden rule in which we are asked to treat those the way that we want to be treated. I can definitely use this information in order to communicate more effectively with the people and groups discussed above. While teaching French as a second language it is important to remember that the language is new to the students. I need to slow down while speaking. In this week’s part one of our discussion forum I shared an experience I had with a family from Afghanistan. As part of the family’s culture I was only supposed to address the father during meetings, conferences and interviews. I explained that I found these wishes degrading, sexist, discriminatory and quite frankly infuriating. Although I adhered to the family’s wishes at once, I struggled with these guidelines internally. It took a lot of reflection and time for me to finally say and realize that I was using my own personal cultural beliefs as a reference for what was right to judge someone else’s culture as wrong. This is both an example of cultural myopia and the platinum rule.


O'Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Deciphering Non-verbal Communication

For this assignment, again consider what you have been learning about communication skills and styles. Then record an episode of a television show you do not normally watch. Watch the show with the sound turned off.
For the purpose of this assignment I watched an episode of “Criminal Minds” which I had never watched before. The show seems to deal with pretty dark themes associated with criminal activity and for that reason I have never been interested in watching it. It is pretty graphic and I scare easily.

What do you think the characters' relationships are based on the ways in which they are communicating?
From the information I received watching the show on mute, there are a number of people working together to solve crimes, all of which have different roles or specializations. One of the male characters seemed to be in charge of the case and of all of the professionals/ police officers. The characters are all at work at police headquarters and therefore are acting very serious within their roles.

What are they feeling and expressing based on the nonverbal behavior you are observing?
The characters are doing little to no smiling, laughing etc. because the tone of the show seems to be serious. A girl’s body was found murdered and the police have chased evidence and have brought in two suspects for questioning. A girl is interrogated first and she is shown photos and therefore begins crying. I am not sure what her relationship is to the victim just from watching her reactions without sound. She looks nervous and upset while the police officer doing the interrogation seems hard and emotionless.

Now, watch the show with the sound turned on.

What assumptions did you make about the characters and plot based on the ways in which you interpreted the communication you observed?
As I have never watched this show before I not only had to attempt to decipher the character’s roles but also the content about the overall plot. I used their body language to decide who was in charge, even after turning on the sound I am not sure who was because there seemed to be two men with different roles who are in charge of the other police officers and investigators. I believed that one man was a psychological profiler because he wasn’t dressed the like other officers. When looking at the two people brought in for questioning without any sound it was very difficult to judge their relationships to the victim. With the sound on I found out that the female suspect was actually the girlfriend of the accused rapist and had no knowledge of the victim. With her reaction to the photos of the victim, I thought she was her sister or friend but her reaction was to the accused and not the victim.

Would your assumptions have been more correct if you had been watching a show you know well?
I think my assumptions would have definitely been more correct had I known the tone of the show as well as the roles of the characters. I would know and understand the way that the show normally plays out and would understand their typical characteristics.

Write about your experience in your blog, including what you learned about communication from this experience and insights or "aha" moments you believe would be helpful to your colleagues.

I found it extremely frustrating to watch a show without any sound. I was struggling to decide who was who and what was going on the entire time. I made some accurate assumptions but also was missing a lot of key information that I would have otherwise been aware of had I watched the entire episode with sound. Furthermore, this type of show often uses music as a way to convey information, emotion and intrigue. By watching this show without sound I was also missing this important aspect of communication between writer and viewer as well. I think that the type of show one watches can definitely change this type of task as well. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

What is Communication?

For your blog this week, think of someone (e.g., family member, celebrity, politician, friend, or professor) who demonstrates competent communication within a particular context. What behaviors does this person exhibit that make him or her effective? Would you want to model some of your own communication behaviors after this person? Why or why not?

This week’s readings and tasks have really made me think and reflect about what effective communication looks like. I am sure that we have all experienced a breakdown in communication at one point or another in our lives. You feel like you are being clear and yet someone is misinterpreting what you are saying. Sometimes we communicate and we ourselves are unsure of our goals and reasons for feeling the way we are feeling. Sometimes we think that we are being rationale, are listening to the other person speaking and yet we are conveying body language that suggests we are not being receptive. I have experienced all of these, and many other breaks in communication and I am sure I will experience many more.

Someone that demonstrates competent communication is my eighth grade teacher. I am sure that this sounds like a strange example, but I also had her as a mentor because she was the student success coordinator for the former school board I worked at. I have therefore experienced communicating with her as both a student and co-worker and mentor. This teacher was very engaging as a teacher. She made learning fun (even the boring stuff) and made everyone in the room feel as though they mattered, were valued and could accomplish anything. She was the reason that math finally clicked for me. I always struggled with math, even though I was a strong student in many other subject areas. She set the bar high for all of her students but because we respected her so much we wanted to reach her expectations. She took the time to work with me individually when I struggled and found a way to reach me and make something that was at one point so abstract for me, clear. As a co-worker she handled meetings and disagreements with poise. She was calm, never talked down to her staff members and asked for reasons and opinions from everyone. We really felt like our concerns, opinions and ideas mattered. I also loved that she had faith in her staff. We would come up with a plan together and then she would allow you the opportunity to go forward without being micromanaged from a distance. I felt comfortable seeking advice from her and knew that she would help find a resolution without being condescending.

I would definitely want to model these communication behaviors because both as a student and as a co-worker I knew that my voice was heard and my opinion mattered. Communication was open and encouraged in both situations which made her classroom and school run smoothly. She was well liked and respected by students, staff members and parents alike because she was able to be direct and firm but was fair and was able to listen to the opinions and ideas of others openly.