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Diagnosis and Reflection

Discuss about the The Improving empathic communication skill.

Communication is the process that conveys information from one entity or group to another. There are several barriers to communication such as lack of attention, cultural differences and many more that affect the quality of communication. Effective communication is thus the elimination of the barriers to communication so that the entire information is conveyed to the listener and no miscommunication takes place (Knapp, Vangelisti & Caughlin, 2014). This type of communication principally comprises of verbal as well as active use of non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication can be utilized to express the emotional and the mental state of the speaker as well as the listener by using facial expressions and body language. This report consists of diagnosis and reflection of the different communication styles that would include verbal, non-verbal, active listening and assertiveness. A literature review and a suitable action plan would be provided that would suggest a timeline for communication improvement. The purpose of this report is to analyse the effective communication skills and to identify the areas in communication that would require improvement through the effective use of the recommended action plan. 

The scale of effective communication can be measured using five diagnostic tools. Here, I have measured my own communication skills and developed an effective understanding of the diagnostic tools.

  • Self-Perceived Communication Competence Scale: This tool can be used to identify the level of communication competence when I am taking to my friends, acquaintances or strangers (Shahbaz et al., 2016). I feel highly secured while communicating with my friends whether it is small or large group. I am highly motivated and competent while sharing my information with them. I am very upfront and assertive in stating my opinions to my friends (Chung & Leung, 2016). Listening to their opinions is also very satisfying as I have known them for a long time and I know that their source of knowledge is authentic. I am averagely competent while talking to any acquaintance from my workplace. Being a little defensive while communicating with them is always beneficial as I have little to no idea about their thought process. Communicating with only one person or a small group of workplace acquaintances is generally good for information sharing (Li, 2014). I prefer individuals or small groups to talk at my workplace to as the conversation often leads to rich quality information sharing. Large group meetings of acquaintances are not preferred by me as most of the discussion is only for merriment and not work related. I very assertive while taking to individuals or when I am communicating in a small group. However, I am not assertive during my conversations with a large group of acquaintances. Having a conversation with a stranger has never been my speciality. I do not share much details about myself while having a conversation with them. My body language is extremely defensive, I am a moderately active listener and I do not show any assertiveness.
  • Personal Report of Intercultural Communication Apprehension: This diagnostic tool helped me to identify my communication skill while communicating people from different cultural backgrounds (Neuliep, 2017). Identifying the flaws and backlogs in this domain of communication is vital as I will have to work with different people in my team, many of them might be from other countries. Such a situation would mean that I would have to be comfortable working with them by effectively communicating with them. I have analysed, by using this tool that I am very comfortable while communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds. I tend to read foreign books related to cultural practices followed around the world (Jandt, 2017). Thus, I am not all nervous while communicating with them. I face no such fear while I am speaking to them. I am very eager to learn about the practices of different cultures. Drawing reference from such cultures helps me in successfully planning my life and develop an idea on what life is about. Hence, such conversations feel me up with confidence and I enjoy such spending time with those people rather than spending time on social media. My team consists of people from different work cultures and working alongside them has helped me immensely to develop as a human being. During brainstorming sessions, when we need to create new ideas having people from different work cultures thus creates a pool of the most innovative ideas that we can utilize in our work (Meyer et al., 2014).
  • Nonverbal Immediacy Scale-Self Report: This diagnostic tool aids in analysing my level of nonverbal communication skill. Nonverbal communication adds an additional effect to successful effective communication process (Burgoon, Guerrero & Floyd, 2016). Visual aid has always been more helpful in delivering a successful message rather than a monotonous speech. Facial expressions and body language can be effectively used to communicate with the audience (Jack, Garrod & Schyns, 2014). Sometimes the body language of the audience can also be used by the speaker to analyse their thinking process (Pease & Pease 2016). I utilize different hand gestures to better communicate with them. I use voice intonation while taking as it helps to keep the audience captivated and interested to my speech (Elbert & Dijkstra, 2014). A monotonous speech is dull to use and the audience generally losses interest on speaking in that manner (Nakai et al., 2014). I smile while talking to people. I maintain eye contact and lean forward during instances so that I could express my interest in the conversation that I am having (Jones et al., 2017). All of these demonstrates my confidence in communication. Showing confidence is of vital importance as confident speaker is admired by everyone (Derman et al., 2016). A person who does not use nonverbal communication while communicating, usually lacks confidence. Such a person would never be able to communicate effectively. Usually I do not touch shoulders and arms of others while talking to them unless it is to show sympathy or empathy (Koegel et al., 2016). Although I do a firm handshake before or after having a conversation with a colleague and even with the boss. This helps to convey my strong character and my confidence in myself and my actions.
  • Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety: This diagnostic tool helped me to analyse the problems in my public speaking abilities. I am very anxious while speaking in public (Carlbring et al., 2017). Public speaking requires a lot of forte and confidence. Public speakers are generally well versed in the psychology of the common masses and they develop and manipulate their speech based on the reactions of the audience (Mawson, 2017). I get tensed before giving a public speech. The preparation phase for the speech is very unnerving for me. It generally takes a long time for me to prepare a proper speech that is suitable to be delivered in public. Practising the speech over and over does not produce any better result. Instead, my level of anxiousness increases more. I tend to forget my speech after stepping on the podium. I am in constant fear and tensed about giving my speech. However, all of these go away after I start my speech. My hands and forehead remain sweaty form before but my thought process is clear on the contents that I should say rather than the speech I have prepared. This helps to effectively communicate with the audience. Public speech can be very tricky and it is very demotivating and demoralising when people leave while I am presenting my speech. It is considered very unorthodox to involve the audience in my speech nonetheless I actively get the people to participate in my speech and thus they feel obligated to stay during the whole duration of my speech. Using the analysis that I obtained by using this tool I can decrease my anxiety levels before giving my speech in front of the public. I can immerse myself in different stress relieving activities to mitigate the stress while I am getting ready to speak to a crowd. Generally, I calm down while reading books of different authors. I can use that to read books written by motivational authors that instigate confidence (Evans, 2017). This would divert my attention from the speech and gives me more time to relax yet brim with confidence.
  • Talkaholic Scale Communication: I have used this diagnostic tool to analyse whether I am a talkaholic or not. There are instances where I should have spoken but I kept quiet because I did not want to humiliate myself in front of my colleagues (Sidelinger & Bolen, 2015). I generally constrain myself and participate in conversations only when it is an absolute necessity. I am confident at participating in conversations but I do not put any effort in creating a conversation. I am not a talkaholic and I cautiously choose the conversation that I would participate in (Goldstein et al., 2017). 
  • I have anxiety while communicating to a large group of people and while speaking to the public and I avoid such communication as much as possible.
  • I participate in limited number of conversations.
  • I had to prepare for a seminar. Here, I had to give a power point presentation in front of four thousand people. Here, I experienced anxiety issues while preparing for the speech. I forgot the whole speaker notes that I had prepared as I stood in front of all those people and gave a very vague presentation on the topic. This shows that I would require improvement in public speaking.
  • A discussion about the correct work ethics ensued an event of misbehaviour at my work place. Here, I did not participate in the discussion as I thought that any abrupt idea from my end might ruin my career. 

The two scenarios where I faced issues during communicating effectively are public speaking and the choice of conversation for participation. In this literature review, the skills required to effectively communicate with the public and compulsive communication is discussed.

Public speaking is defined as the ability to deliver a speech in front of the public (Chen et al., 2014). The speech can be informative or entertaining (Apostol-Mates & Barbu, 2017). The speech must be structured and delivered with confidence. However, developing a suitable speech and the required speaking skills needs time. Any form of anxiety before or during the speech would affect the quality of the speech (Taylor, 2014). The problem that was identified was failure to recollect the prepared speech in front of the audience. In theory, this can be solved effortlessly by practicing the speech multiple times in front of the mirror. More amount of practice would mean that more confidence would be developed for the actual event. Thus, during the actual speech, the speaker would not feel anxious over the speech as the person would feel prepared instead. Confidence while speaking publicly is important as the audience would not give full attention to the speaker unless the speaker speaks captivatingly (Carnegie, 2017). It is also expected that the public speaker must have good leadership skills as it a good leader can easily motivate the crowd. Thus, imparting motivation is a key feature of a public speaker. However, practising a speech repeatedly might not produce the same outcome for everybody. The people might get more nervous while preparing for the speech. The behavioural aspect of a person needs to be developed. Anxiety management needs to implemented (Veale et al., 2014). This would aid in developing the attitude of a person towards public speaking. Public speaking can be very unnerving. Leadership skills is another aspect that is needed to effectively deliver a speech in public. However, leadership skills can never be created in a person. It is something a person is born with. The innate nature of a person must contain leadership skills so that it can be nurtured and developed further. Leadership skills are needed to effectively address a crowd. Such audience is hard to motivate as it is hard to predict the correct amount of effort needed to motivate everyone equally. Motivational and entertaining style of speech is important to keep the crowd captivated in the content of the speech. Lack of entertainment means that the speech is monotonous and thus even if the content is interesting, the audience would lose interest. The positive outcomes of the speech must be highlighted before the audience as it will assist in keeping the audience fascinated and they would maintain their level of interest throughout the speech. The audience must be given a reason to listen. A smile on the speaker’s face is important to provide a friendly appearance on stage. A personal experience or story related to the topic can be provided by the speaker. This would highlight personal involvement of the speaker with the speech he or she is about to provide. The speaker must believe in the contents of his or her speech wholeheartedly otherwise it is hard to convince the audience. A fake speech demoralizes the audience and they would gradually lose interest in the speech. Interactive sessions with the audience is also important for maintaining their attention. An audience will feel more involved to the discussion. A questionnaire can be formulated by the speaker that would create an interactive session with the audience. A co-operating audience means that they would show exhilarating interest in the speech, which would then increase the confidence of the speaker by seeing such overwhelming public support. The content prepared by the speaker might lack some aspects that the audience might be expecting from the speaker during his or her speech. This expectation can be derived from different questions that can be asked to the audience. The feedback from those questions then can be used to make impromptu changes to the speech content that befits the expectation of the audience.

Literature Review

Compulsive speakers or in other words ‘talkaholics’ are those people who always over-communicate (Worthington & Bodie, 2017). The literature explains a measuring scale that can be used to identify a ‘talkaholic’ and measure the level of compulsive speaking. People are often offended by compulsive speaking as they might not be mentally prepared to listen. The scale measures whether the person is a ‘talkaholic’ or not. However, in this scenario the flaw is less speaking and not over-speaking. Speaking less is as harmful as compulsive speaking. The circumstances involved in speaking less can be low confidence and motivation. This can be detrimental as the person might not be able to communicate his or her thought process effectively. Some words can remain unsaid, which would create a deficiency in communication. The consistency in a person’s workplace communication skills is essential for his or her progress. Without proper communication skills, the person will feel demotivated to stay and work as he or she would always be in a depressed state of mind.  Effectively stating one’s idea is important otherwise it might be incorrectly interpreted by the listener. A workplace consists of people from different cultural backgrounds. Compulsive speaking during a discussion with them is not beneficial as compulsive speakers tend not to think during speaking. Sometimes they might even overstep the boundary of traditional social conduct by interfering into others’ lives. Talkaholics tend to talk and explain their situation even when it is advantageous to keep quiet. Such people might face problems during scenarios such as having a conversation with an angry client. In this type of situation, it is beneficial to listen to the client’s complaints rather than speaking themselves. Compulsive speakers are thus not active listeners as they spend more time in talking rather than listening (Bodie et al., 2015). The other person might want to say something that would add more value to the conversation. However, he or she may not get the chance to do so as a talkaholic would always interrupt such speakers and speak instead. Speaking first is always seen as a sign of having leadership skills (Chen & Rybak, 2017). People are always incited to be the first one to speak as it would help them to gain an advantage over other involved in the same discussion. However, such a practice is not to be utilized at a workplace as listening skills are desired along with speaking skills. It is more valuable to be an active listener as it helps to develop insights on different processes through multiple discussions with colleagues and experts. A compulsively speaking boss during the start of a meeting would state the purpose of the meeting along with all his or her ideas regarding the matter. Asking for ideas from the other participants of the meeting after that is futile as the ideas provided by the boss has already dominated the room by overwhelming them with his or her own ideas. Instead the boss should have stated the purpose of the meeting and waited to get the feedback from the other participants. The participants might have some better insights to offer and the boss must listen to those. It takes a lot of skill to speak and communicate effectively and it takes an even superior skill and self-control to listen. Listening to what others are saying is just as important as speaking. Effective communication is a ‘two-way street’ (Evans et al., 2017). The speaker and the listener must put equal amounts of effort to make the communication effective. A talkaholic can never achieve effective communication as the person is not spending enough time listening. This means if such a person is asked for feedback, he or she will not be able to provide a satisfactory one. This is because compulsive speakers spend more time talking and less time listening.

Personal development is thus essential in these areas as it helps to develop even further. 

Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours Required

Key Events and Activities

Duration

Public Speaking skills that includes leadership and motivational skills

Masters in Public Speaking Courses at Dale Carnegie Training

From 24/1/2018 to 23/1/2020

Presentation skills

Developing an effective idea on what the presenting publicly means

From 26/1/2018 to 28/1/2018

Planning and analysing skills

Planning the speech and learning about the requirements of the speaker

From 29/1/2018 to 31/1/2018

Convincing skills

Learning to make the presentation convincing

From 1/2/2018 to 3/2/2018

Question and Answer skills

Learning to handle questions from the audience and providing them with appropriate answers.

From 4/2/2018 to 8/2/2018

Speaking accurately and effectively

Understanding the talkaholic scale and developing self for better conversation participation

From 9/2/2018 to 12/2/2018

Reflection

Maintaining a journal that could be used to reflect on the learning outcomes.

From 24/1/2018 to 23/7/2018

Self-help books that could be used to develop motivational ideas.

Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement by Tony Robbins

From 26/7/2018 to 7/3/2018

The action plan includes a master degree course in public speaking and mass communication. Such a course is required to instigate the required skill set and confidence to speak publicly. The skill set is quite hard to nurture and thus professional help is recommended for this situation. Leadership skills are hard to develop solely based on self-help books. Potential leaders need adequate guidance to become leaders. Motivational speaking is an important aspect to learn while learning public speaking. Listening to other motivational speakers can help to develop self-motivating skills. Presentation skills are needed to convince the public. Content of a speech can be confusing to the public if not spoken correctly. Thus, presentation skills are of importance to a public speaker. Public analysing skills are needed to analyse the crowd and develop effective speech delivering techniques spontaneously. The public can be volatile to address and thus such skills must be developed in a public speaker. A public speaker must never get anxious while delivering speech or while answering the questions from the public. Anxiousness must be mitigated through any means possible. It generally involves book reading, listening to music or talking to loved ones. These methods of anxiousness mitigation are very helpful and must be applied when needed. A journal can be maintained to reflect on all the outcomes that has been learned in the duration of the process.

Conclusion

Thus, it can be concluded that effective communication skills are important to improve a person’s personal and professional life. The five diagnostic tools that were used in this report to analyse the communication skills successfully creates a picture of the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication along with active listening and assertiveness. The deficiency in public speaking skills and under speaking has been identified and explained in the literature review as well as the advantages of having those skills. Public speaking has been explained in context to the skill set that is required to become an excellent public speaker. The limitations of being a compulsive speaker and the benefits of speaking the correct amount has also been explained. An action plan has also been provided that provides a detailed plan over the next six months that would assist in improving the communication skills. 

Reference List

Apostol-Mates, R., & Barbu, A. (2017). THE MILITARY BRIEFING-A TYPE OF INFORMATIVE SPEECH. Scientific Bulletin" Mircea cel Batran" Naval Academy, 20(1), 135.

Bodie, G. D., Vickery, A. J., Cannava, K., & Jones, S. M. (2015). The role of “active listening” in informal helping conversations: Impact on perceptions of listener helpfulness, sensitivity, and supportiveness and discloser emotional improvement. Western Journal of Communication, 79(2), 151-173.

Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2016). Nonverbal communication. Routledge.

Carlbring, P., Lindner, P., Miloff, A., Fagernäs, S., Andersen, J., Sigeman, M., ... & Andersson, G. (2017). In session virtual reality use for public speaking anxiety: A randomized controlled trial. In 9th Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions, Berlin, Germany, 12–14 October 2017. Elsevier.

Carnegie, D. (2017). How to develop self-confidence and influence people by public speaking. Simon and Schuster.

Chen, L., Feng, G., Joe, J., Leong, C. W., Kitchen, C., & Lee, C. M. (2014, November). Towards automated assessment of public speaking skills using multimodal cues. In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction(pp. 200-203). ACM.

Chen, M. W., & Rybak, C. (2017). Group leadership skills: Interpersonal process in group counseling and therapy. SAGE Publications.

Derman, P. B., Iyer, S., Garner, M., Orr, S., Felix, K. J., Goldberg, A., ... & Cornell, C. (2016). An Initiative to Standardize the Identification of and Acute Response to Postoperative Lower-Extremity Neurological Deficits: Effects on Provider Knowledge, Confidence, and Communication Skills. JBJS, 98(23), e105.

Elbert, S. P., & Dijkstra, A. (2014). An experimental test of the relationship between voice intonation and persuasion in the domain of health. Psychology & health, 29(9), 1014-1031

Evans, D. R., Hearn, M. T., Uhlemann, M. R., & Ivey, A. E. (2017). Essential interviewing: A programmed approach to effective communication. Nelson Education.

Evans, K. (2017). Engaging Undergraduate Writers: A Study of Motivational Dynamics in the Second Language Writing Classroom (Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Davis).

Goldstein, A. J., Quintana, A., Palm, E., Millam, G., & Ahmed, Z. (2017). U.S. Patent Application No. 15/347,584.

Jack, R. E., Garrod, O. G., & Schyns, P. G. (2014). Dynamic facial expressions of emotion transmit an evolving hierarchy of signals over time. Current biology, 24(2), 187-192.

Jandt, F. E. (2017). An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. Sage Publications.

Jones, R. M., Southerland, A., Hamo, A., Carberry, C., Bridges, C., Nay, S., ... & Lord, C. (2017). Increased Eye Contact During Conversation Compared to Play in Children With Autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 47(3), 607-614.

Knapp, M. L., Vangelisti, A. L., & Caughlin, J. P. (2014). Interpersonal communication & human relationships. Pearson Higher Ed.

Koegel, L. K., Ashbaugh, K., Navab, A., & Koegel, R. L. (2016). Improving empathic communication skills in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 46(3), 921-933.

Li, G. (2014). Information sharing and stock market participation: Evidence from extended families. Review of Economics and Statistics, 96(1), 151-160.

Mawson, A. R. (2017). Mass panic and social attachment: The dynamics of human behavior. Routledge.

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Shahbaz, M., Khan, M. S., Khan, R. M. I., & Mustafa, G. (2016). Role of self-perceived communication competence and communication apprehension for willingness to communicate in L1 and L2. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 6(1), 158.

Sidelinger, R. J., & Bolen, D. M. (2015). Compulsive Communication in the Classroom: Is the Talkaholic Teacher a Misbehaving Instructor?. Western Journal of Communication, 79(2), 174-196.

Taylor, S. (2014). Anxiety sensitivity: Theory, research, and treatment of the fear of anxiety. Routledge.

Veale, D., Anson, M., Miles, S., Pieta, M., Costa, A., & Ellison, N. (2014). Efficacy of cognitive behaviour therapy versus anxiety management for body dysmorphic disorder: a randomised controlled trial. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 83(6), 341-353.

Worthington, D. L., & Bodie, G. D. (Eds.). (2017). The sourcebook of listening research: Methodology and measures. John Wiley & Sons.

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