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The Importance of Communication Skills

Discuss about the International Encyclopaedia Of Communication.

Self-reflection helps individuals to understand themselves better, familiarize with their strongholds as well as their weaknesses, therefore providing a basis for self-improvement and consequently development. This essay reflects and provides an in-depth analysis and evaluation of my communication skills, identifies my weaknesses in terms of communication skills and sets an action plan that will enable me to improve on my communication weaknesses. The reflection is based on five diagnostic tools and which are dedicated to assisting me to realize any issues relating to communication that need significant improvement and development. The two major issues relating to my communication skills that I have identified to require notable improvement are anxiety when communicating with strangers, particularly that I might have never communicated to nor interacted with any time there before.

 The other issue covers my low tolerance when it comes to disagreeing, be it with my friends or any other individuals. The diagnostic tools identified that, even though I hate arguments and disagreements, I significantly hate when other people propose contrary to my opinions and I love it more when everybody else shares opinions and views similar to mine. The literature review provided in this essay covers the theoretical and behavioural concepts that relate to my communication skills and issues highlighted.  The main purpose that this reflection has served is to provide a number of activities that if applied and employed over time, could help me to improve my communication skills by paying special attention and consideration to my weaknesses and communication issues. The action plan at the end of this paper addresses these activities specifying on their timelines and success measures.

Communication is an everyday activity that takes place almost in every aspect of life. An individual’s ability to communicate effectively is able to affect their life from the way they casually interact with their friends and family members at home. Moreover, in business, communication holds an integral part in facilitating and ensuring the goals of an organization are achieved. Managers play important roles in controlling and supervising all the activities taking place in the business and workplace (Eunson, 2012). They interact with the workers and seek ways through which they can motivate and inspire them. They are involved in the process of ensuring that the workers are well trained and they acquire the necessary skills required to handle the specific tasks assigned to them. Moreover, they delegate authority and duties to their subordinates so as to equip them with the necessary managerial skills, and in doing this, the subordinates are prepared for any future promotions. The ability of such managers to communicate effectively and efficiently is very crucial to the overall growth and development of the businesses as explained by Rahmani (2017). Analyzing my communion abilities would help me to work on and improve on those areas that I will perceive to be weak yet crucial for my own personal development. This, moreover, helps to enhance me with the positive communication skills that I critically require to excel in my business profession (Williams, 2013).

Diagnostic Tools Employed for Self-Reflection

The different diagnostic tools employed paid special attention to different issues and skills and they focused on assessing my skills on the independent areas that they covered. The specific diagnostic tools used include Self-Perceived Communication Competence scale, which assesses the people’s communication abilities when they are confronted with different situations that call for a communication reaction such as talking to strangers, friends or even presenting a talk to a group of individuals (Grant & Borcherds, 2015). Another diagnostic tool employed was Nonverbal Immediacy Scale Self Report that focuses on behaviours and cues signalling optimistic mindset towards another party during a communication practice (Liu & Reeves, 2017). The third tool employed was Personal Report of Intercultural Communication Apprehension which addresses communication in an intercultural context, assessing individual’s abilities to effectively and efficiently communicate with other people who do not share a common cultural and ethnic origins as them (Davids & Waghid, 2017). Talkaholic scale diagnostic tool was the fourth tool applied. This scale provides a measure of compulsive communication, evaluating the differences in people when it comes to verbality and talkativeness (Dewaele & Wei, 2013). The last diagnostic tool was Tolerance for Disagreement, a scale used to measure and assess people’s tolerance and ability to put up with other people who hold different beliefs and opinions as the ones perceived by them (Hain & Jassal, 2016).

I filled all the questionnaires as required by the diagnostic tools honestly so as to obtain accurate and honest answers to the analysis of my communication skills. Different tools came up with different results and conclusions basing on my assessment. The Self-Perceived Communication Competence Scale indicated that my communication skills are more competent when I am engaged to a conversation with a friend or a smaller group of friends, especially when compared to my communication abilities when talking to an acquaintance or a group of acquaintances. My abilities were also confirmed to be lower when addressing a large group of people, including friends, but they were even lowest when engaging with a larger group of strangers. I scored an overall score of 78 in the Self-Perceived Communication Competence Scale, which was quite a good performance, indicating that I did not have any strong issues in that field which required any remarkable improvement. The Nonverbal Immediacy Scale-Self Report’s 92 scores proved that I was had moderate abilities when it comes to integrating various verbal and non-verbal cues in my normal communication practices. An in-depth analysis confirmed that I occasionally used limb gestures when communicating with other people, vary my voice tone to make communication livelier, and rarely avoid eye contact when talking to people.

Results and Analysis of Diagnostic Tools

Personal Report of Intercultural Communication Apprehension assessment score of 34 indicated a moderate level of intercultural communication apprehension. The analysis confirmed that I was less tense and nervous when talking to people from different cultures as mine, whether in group discussions or in a personal interaction with a person whom we do not share a common cultural origin. According to the results, I am normally calm and I don’t suffer from anxiety when talking to people from different cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the Talkaholic scale test showed that I am less compulsive when it comes to communication and I often talk less sometimes than I really should, as illustrated by my score of 24. The average score of 46 in my Tolerance for Disagreement assessment confirmed that I have moderate communication skills especially relating to tolerance for disagreements. Although I find it fun being involved in discussions that include a lot of arguments and disagreements, I prefer being only in those discussion groups where every member shared the same opinions as mine and I actually hate talking and interacting with those people who hold different views from mine. I, therefore, don’t create unnecessary arguments because according to me, arguments don’t hold any useful purposes.

Reflecting on the results of the Self-Perceived Communication Competence scale, I still feel the need to improve my communication skills and abilities especially when it comes to interacting and talking to strangers. Although the average score indicated that I had moderate abilities, individual assessments showed a significant weakness regarding my abilities when communicating with strangers. Strangers are a critical element in life since every friendship is built from two or more strangers who actively interact and dissolve their differences. Engaging in those activities that would enhance me with the necessary skills that improve my communication abilities with strangers would aid my personal development. Moreover, I perceive that my moderate ability to tolerate disagreements need to be worked on significantly. This is because different people will always hold on to different opinions as attributed to their reasoning and attitudes. Expecting everyone to share the same opinions and standings as mine is a total fail. The observation that I hate talking to people who don’t share opinions similar to mine is a major call for concern as this can even influence my social life greatly and even make me lose close friends who may at one time or another, hold different arguments that go contrary to my beliefs and perceptions, which is obviously bound to happen.

Identified Weaknesses in Communication Skills

Citing examples to support the reason as to why I feel that I need to improve my skills relating to communicating to strangers and tolerance for disagreements, I will refer to my personal past experiences that I feel these weaknesses greatly affected the outcomes of the various experiences as explained hereafter. The first example dates back to three months ago when my friend was involved in a street fight with some street bullies. We were together during all this occurrence and I watched every event unfold until the final fight broke out. The fight resulted when my friend was forced by the boys to hand them his phone forcefully. Resisting to follow the orders, the boys started a fight but my friend, being a martial art practitioner, was able to free himself from the fight, consequently hurting one of the boys who fell chasing after him and broke his arm. When the parents of the filed the case in a court of law, I was overanxious and nervous to note that I was to be the eyewitness and was supposed to defend my friend from possible false penalization. This was greatly escalated by the thought that I would face and give a talk to new faces and strangers I had never met before, a factor that contributed to the poor delivery of speech and overall talk.

Another example that cites my need to improve on my skills on tolerance for disagreement is can be easily traced in the same occurrence where I was feeling sick arguing with other people who wanted to prove that my friend was guilty and needed a high penalty for his mischievous behaviour. This case was very significant and it held much importance in maintaining and even strengthening our friendship with my friend, but I still felt reluctant to hold a live argument to save him from the danger that was impending, although I greatly valued and treasured or relationship. My poor skills and abilities in holding arguments with people who did not have similar ideas and opinions as mine made a hard task for me to victoriously argue out and prove to the judges that my friend as honestly innocent. Despite the fact that I was informed about the law’s consent to self-defence, I was still having a great trouble to explain it out that the harm was not intentional but rather accidental and it only occurred in the course of self-defence.

Action Plan for Improving Communication Skills


A theorist McCroskey has been widely recognized due to his contribution in theories relating to communication apprehension, which he defined as the level and amount of anxiety and nervousness that is generally triggered by a real or an anticipated communication activity (McCroskey & Richmond, 2012).  The anxiety experienced by a person anticipating to communicate can be connected to a number of factors and aspects, such as the individual’s thought of judgment by the audience to overall perceived self-image. Communication apprehension has been known to be a cause of many involuntary body responses including shaking, sweating, forgetfulness and stage fright (Neuliep, 2017). A number of types of communication apprehension have been identified. Among the identified types include trait anxiety, context anxiety, audience and situation anxiety (McCroskey & Richmond, 2012). Trait anxiety traces back to an individual’s personality and addresses that certain individuals are bound to be anxious when they are involved in communication activities, not considering the context, situation or even the audience addressed by such a person. Such people, therefore, tend to avoid exposure to situations that may require them to communicate or interact with other people. Scientists relate trait communication apprehension to individual’s genetic making and argue that the characteristic is inherited down the family trees, from parents to their children (Horwitz, 2010).

Context anxiety, on the other, hand, refers to the anxiety that arises as contributed by the specific context within which the communication process takes place (McCroskey, et al., 2010). For instance, some people may suffer anxiety problems when communication takes place in a public speaking context where an individual is required to address a diverse audience, who may at times even hold different opinions from the individual and may, therefore, the individual may be required to convince the audience to take his perspective. Other similar contexts that could be a cause of anxiety include class discussions and meeting discussions. On the other hand, audience anxiety is a type of communication comprehension that explains anxiety that is associated with the presence of a certain person or a group of persons, during the communication process. Different audiences cause anxiety to different peoples. For example, some people may experience anxiety while communicating with their familiar friends while others face trouble communicating with strangers. The last type of communication apprehension is situation anxiety which covers different psychological reactions experienced by people as a result of the specific situation, free from the person’s traits and context.

Personal Experiences Demonstrating Need for Improvement

The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with everybody, whether they are familiar or strange to you is very critical in everyday life as well as business life. In the business world, every business person seeks to acquire and retain as many clients and customers as possible. The ability to acquire new customers depends on one’s ability to effectively be able to communicate and convince strange but potential clients (Rebecca & Rubin, 2010). Moreover, research shows that managers and supervisors who have prominent levels of communication apprehension are likely to interact well with their subordinates, especially new employees and recruits. Lower and manageable levels of communication comprehension enable managers to interact well with employees, inspire and motivate new employees through effective engagement, as well as enable them to carry out effective recruitments, interviews and employee training (Aesaert, Van, Vanderlinde & van, 2014). The level of an individual’s communication comprehension carries a great potential and influence on one’s professional and expert competence. It is, therefore, to ensure that such comprehensions are always maintained at minimum levels so as to enable individuals to remain productive in their days as well as their professional lives.


Various studies have been conducted especially around communication practices in group works and communication taking place in organizations and workplaces. Analysis of findings from these research studies conceptualized the theory of tolerance for disagreement (Jia, Cheng & Hale, 2016). According to the researchers, disagreements and ways of disagreeing vary depending on a number of factors. Among the factors that influence disagreeing include the opponent involved in the argument, which implies that disagreement takes different perspectives depending on the varying opponents (Hain & Jassal, 2016). For example, a disagreement arising between an individual takes a different perspective from an argument that arises between the same individual and a family member (Daly & Wilson, 2017). Other factors that owe influence to disagreements between individuals include location and the specific place where an argument occurs as well as the method of disagreeing, that is if the disagreement occurs from a face to face position or over a communication media such as over a mobile phone (Scott, 2012). The form of the argument further puts into consideration the background history of the disagreeing individuals, their respective positions and ranks in the organization and the choice of communication styles employed by the disagreeing parties (Talbot, 2017).

Interpersonal conflict refers to a conflict or a disagreement that occurs between two or more individuals who actively interact with each other in the presence of incompatible opinions and ideas, perceptions and attitudes (Eysenck, 2014). Individuals participating in an interpersonal conflict hold on to opposing viewpoints from each other, where every individual believes they are right and their counterparts are wrong. Interpersonal conflicts may take different forms ranging from normal arguments to higher levels that result in wars and active fights. Interpersonal conflicts can be expressed in different forms such as verbally or nonverbally, as well as through emotions in both communication and listening (Knapp, Hall & Horgan, 2013). Interpersonal conflict varies from interpersonal violence in the fact that interpersonal violence extends to abuse through aspects such as fights. Continued interpersonal conflicts often develop into interpersonal violence if not well controlled (Neuliep, 2017). However, conflicts are just an inevitable part of human communication as people will always view different ideas and opinions from different opinions especially depending on their own personal experiences and reasoning.

A number of factors influence communication between different individuals. Among the common factors affecting communication include individual’s expressiveness, assuredness, argumentativeness, supportiveness, preciseness and verbal aggressiveness (Diliberto & Kearney, 2016). In a business context, these factors are responsible for determining how employees relate and interact with each other. Effective interactions in the workplace are a major contributor to the overall likeliness of a business organization to achieve its stated goals and targets (Eunson, 2012). Interactions in the organization facilitate or hinder teamwork and cooperation in the workplace which in turn facilitates or hinders achievement of tasks in the business respectively. Managers with a high tolerance for disagreement levels are able to convince their workers on the need to prioritize various events and activities over others (Rahmani, 2017). Proper organization of activities in the organization leads to success. On the other hand, managers and organization leaders who do not have high levels of tolerance for disagreement tend to rule and manage such organizations through dictatorship methods where their decisions remain final, leaving no room for discussions that could lead to improvements in such decisions. Such organizations hardly foster employee interactions and are more likely to fail in the achievement of their goals (Talbot, 2017).


Having identified my low levels related to tolerance for disagreement, engaging in those activities that would be able to guide me through a series of improvement sequence would lead to a significant personal development. Improving my abilities related to tolerance for disagreements would enhance my future management skills. Effective management and leadership at large are built on the individual's ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. Communication enables managers to inspire and motivate their workers, a critical managerial role that facilitates the organization’s likeliness to succeed. Positive nonverbal communication helps to prevent disagreements between and among individuals where it brings forward positive facial and other nonverbal expressions. Nonverbal immediacy behaviours are more effective in facilitating communication than immediate behaviors (Rushton, 2017). Examples of non-verbal behaviours include physical touch, smiles, eye contact between individuals, closer distances between individuals as well as varying verbal tones.

An action plan lists the specific steps that must be followed in order for one to achieve specific goals (Rahmani, 2017).  Such steps may include activities that aim at facilitating the achievement of certain stated objectives. An action plan, for my case, would help me to improve in the two communication issues that I have already identified. I have therefore come up with an action plan that puts a special consideration on my issues and focuses on facilitating improvement in such issues. My action plan covers six months of activities that I intend to carry out at the specified time frames and also provides a success measure that will help me to trace my improvement and achievement over time (Sherman, 1991). As I carry out the activities formulated in the action plan, I have also decided to keep a personal journal that will help me to reflect on my achievements and accomplishments. Additionally, the journal will be a special tool at the end of the six months of improvement and it will particularly help me to figure out the areas that I worked on and therefore be on the lookout for any practically notable improvements. I will also use the journal to plan and organize my future activities especially those that pertain to communication and interaction.

In addition, my action plan integrates extensive reading practices to help improve my communication issues. Human communication skills have been categorized into distinct categories such as reading ills, writing skills, speaking and listening skills and body language (Okay, 2016). These skills are then combined in different ways and methods I order to express independent opinions and ideas, thoughts and emotions. Theories have identified that there is a close relationship between the different forms. A continued practice in one form of communication naturally helps an individual to improve his communication skills in another form of communication (Okay, 2016). For example, reading different materials every day could help an individual to effectively deliver his ideas through oral communication. Books and other written materials are often organized in a logical manner. Gaining knowledge about how to logically organize my thoughts will facilitate my effective delivery and communication (Richmond, McCroskey & Wrench, 2013). This will particularly improve my abilities to communicate with strangers. Additionally, I have come up with a collection of various books that will help me to improve my communication issues and help me to effectively argue my points out during disagreements. Among the books in my collection include “Transform your communication skills” by Bridger and Scott’s book, “Disagreements, disputes, and all-out war: 3 simple steps for dealing with any kind of conflict.”

Other activities that I will engage in throughout those months include participation in an interpersonal communication course, whereby I will integrate the various theoretical communication skills into practical work through active communication practices. To measure my success and improvement after undertaking the various activities highlighted in my action plan, I will actively participate in class group discussions in attempts to measure any improvements about tolerance for disagreement and also participate in the inter-school subject congresses and presentations where I will be required to interact with strangers from other schools and make presentations to new strange audiences.

Activity

June

July

August

September

October

November

Keep a personal Journal

Reading Practice

Interpersonal communication

Presentations

Figure 1. Gantt Chart of the Action Plan

Conclusively, this essay reflects on my communication skills and identifies two issues that I need to improve on. It additionally provides an in-depth analysis of the five diagnostic tools I employed in the analysis of my communication abilities. Finally, the action plan formulated aims to solve the identified issues and help me to improve my communication abilities.

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Richmond, V. P., McCroskey, J. C., & Wrench, J. S. (2013). Communication apprehension, avoidance, and effectiveness. Boston: Pearson.

Rushton, R. (2017). The Power of Connection: How to Become a Master Communicator in Your Workplace, Your Head Space and at Your Place. Newark: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

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Talbot, M. (2017). Relational-gestalt theory: The psychology of interpersonal conflict resolution. Mediation Theory And Practice, 2(2), 157-190. doi: 10.1558/mtp.32157

Williams, C. (2013). Effective management. Australia: South-Western.

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