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Myself As a Communicator

Part 1: Self-Assessment

NICOLE SMITH

How am I at articulating my needs, opinions, views, or


concerns?
I am well-practiced at articulating what I need. Whenever I come home from work after
having a hard day, I tell my husband exactly what I need to decompress. I have come home full
to the brim with stress or frustration and told him that I need: to lie down, a piece of cake, and a
foot massage. After those things, I am able to move on and do whatever needs to be done. My
husband, on the other hand, is a riddle that even he can’t solve when he feels frustrated or
overwhelmed.
When it comes to expressing my views on an issue or topic, I tend to express them with
clarity and in a way that is non-confrontational. There have been times that coworkers have come
up to me and complained about another coworker and how bossy or insensitive she is. In some
ways I agree with them but I can also see a different dimension to it than that of how it affects
me. I have empathized with their issues while also pointing out that it is not necessarily personal
or directed towards anyone, but it is just her instinctive personality and doesn’t realize she is
being so unpleasant. She is just doing her job and trying to do it efficiently, and while doing so,
she is deprecating those around her. After discussing issues, there is a mutual feeling of
understanding between myself and my communicating partner about how we see things.

How am I as a listener?
According to the Listening Assessment, I listen well. I have very real issues with focusing
because I have ADD and I am not on medication for it. When there is a lot of action going on
around me, I have to try very hard to focus. How hard I try to focus is very dependent on how
invested I am with the conversation. As far as my biases, I do not let those get in the way of
hearing out another person’s side of something. I personally find other people’s reasoning for
their beliefs very interesting and tend to be very attentive when such a conversation is occurring.
I am open to changing my opinion if someone is able to present a different opinion that makes
sense to me. Overall, I am great at retaining information that someone tells me and open to
changing my opinion, but I have a hard time with distractions sometimes.
What aspects of my nonverbal behavior are effective?
What can be improved?
My facial expressions deserve a little more attention from myself. I am kind of lazy with
them; lots of people have expressed offense due to my “glaring” at them. My resting face does
not appear very happy, I guess. At the same time, I excel with my use of vocal cues and my use
of gestures. People generally perceive me as animated because I aspire to be engaging enough
that even I would listen to myself. When it comes to the “zones” at which standing is appropriate
in communication, I tend to be closer to people in general when I talk. This may be
uncomfortable for people, so I should be more aware of my distance from people. I suppose I do
this because I may be subconsciously trying to maintain the attention of myself and my
communicating partner— especially if I am in a dramatically different environment from my
everyday activities.
When I am in a very different environment, it’s harder for me to focus on
communication; I am more inclined to observe my surroundings. I can work to give the people
around me more of my undivided attention by keeping my eyes on them instead of looking
around the area. This will be an adjustment at times, because my eyes are drawn to movement or
anything new to the scene. Lastly, I am pretty touch-inclined and most of the U.S. is not. This
hasn’t really been a problem for me because I am often aware if someone around me is not a
touchy person and I refrain from invading their space. When I find out that someone does not
appreciate touches, I apologize for my invasion and back-off.

What are my communication strengths?


I aspire to abide by the cooperative principal and apply the maxims in my everyday
communication. I am talented at being engaging and personable with others as I use a lot of
gestures and various vocalities. When speaking, I use numerous pitches, tones, and volume while
I apply silence, articulation, and my rate to create the desired effect. When explaining a new
concept to my students, I strive to maintain their attention so that I don’t need to repeat myself—
so I exaggerate my emotions and ask questions to keep them involved (intensification.) My
siblings find it humorous when I tell them a story because I make them feel like they are
experiencing it themselves.
When receiving messages, I am good at interpreting the intended meaning, because I
repeat what the person said in my own words to verify the meaning. When listening to someone,
I try to put myself in their shoes and feel the way they do to better understand them and then I
use that understanding to relate to them when appropriate.
According to my assessments, I am highly self-aware, a good listener, adaptable,
moderately empathetic, and cognitively complex. Something I thought was interesting is on the
Empathy Assessment, there were questions asking if you are able to be in a good mood when
everyone around you is upset. My answers indicated that I am able to separate my mood from
others and this is seen as not empathetic. This kind of surprised me because I find it a huge
strength that I can still be happy in a room of upset people, because I am able to be empathetic
and level-headed. When I see a bunch of people around me, I try to be the balance of emotion.
Let me illustrate: when in a room of overly hyper people, I am pleasantly calm to keep the
situation from getting out of hand. Similarly, when in a room of upset people, I am content and
approachable.

What are my communication weaknesses?


I could really improve my communication when it comes to how I communicate with
people who are superior to me. Everything I described for question four all goes down the drain
as soon as I am with someone who exercises authority over me in some way: my parents, boss,
manager, or higher-ranking coworkers. Intimidation overpowers my judgement and I sound like
an imbecile. My eye-behaviors my say “oh, um, hi,” and then, “I will stare you down to
compensate for my lack of confidence around you.” My hands will fidget and basically say, “I
am so uncomfortable! Can I leave now?” as my feet inch towards the door. Then when they ask a
question that requires an explanation, my mind goes blank.
In sum, I need to develop more confidence and perspective when I communicate with my
superiors. They are just other people that landed themselves in a position where they affect me. I
have started to improve on this with my parents, specifically my dad and my step-mother.
Growing up, I was highly manipulated and mildly mentally abused by my dad and step-mom and
even if I desperately needed deodorant or a new pair of shoes, I would avoid talking to them at
all costs because I was scared I would be accused of breaking the bank. (We were not poor,
though.) This anxiety lived on until I got married and moved out of their house. Living on my
own was a breath of fresh air! When I go to visit them now, my perspective and confidence is
completely different; I am proficient in the art of masking now in order to survive visits with
them and maintain peace. My eye-behavior is more natural— less strained, and my vocalities are
more consistent with my regular behavior.

What is it like to have a conversation with me?


When talking with me, there is a lot of animation in my facial expressions and my voice.
You may find yourself wondering if I was the daughter of Ellen DeGeneres. I say “it” how I see
“it” but very lightheartedly because most of what comes out of my mouth is witty or sarcastic.
When telling me about why you’re sad, don’t be surprised if I briefly empathize and restate your
feelings just to turn it around and investigate the positives that come out of the hardship. If you
want someone to tell you that everything is perfect though, don’t ask me. I like to look at
progression that comes with distress, but I do not pretend the distress isn’t there because I am not
ignorant.
If I “tune out” for a moment when we are talking, just know that it isn’t personal in that I
tend to get distracted every once in a while, just snap at my face and I’ll snap back into reality. If
you don’t agree with something I say, you can be confident that sharing your opinion will not
turn our conversation into a conflict. I might even ask you questions about your views to deepen
my understanding of your reasoning, whether it’s about your favorite cereal or how you feel
about abortion. Hopefully the conversations held with me do not reflect one-sided respect, but
mutual respect.

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