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Building Professional Communication SkillsPresentation Transcript
Professional Communication Skills Building communication skills in the workplace Alexandra Wills
about alex I have worked for years trying to better understand people and their lives. I have done both the Americorps and Peace Corps volunteer programs and have worked in a number of non-profit organizations and school systems. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a masters degree in sociology. For the past several years I have worked as an ethnographer, which means I have traveled the U.S. and the world to spend time with people and learn about their lives so that companies can learn more about the people who buy their products. I have been lucky enough to make a living asking open-ended questions, practicing engaged listening and observing the world around me. You can check out some of my work and what’s going on in my life at http://alexandrawills.wordpress.com. Thank you for having me.
why are professional communication skills important? A survey by Peter Hart Research Associates and reported in USA Today revealed: 89%of employers think colleges should emphasize communication, both orally and in writing. 81%of employers think colleges should emphasize critical thinking and analyticalreasoning skills. “Observation skills are the most used, and the most overlooked, of all critical job skills.” ACT workforce development
Explore your own strengths and skills when it comes to communicating in the workplace
Understand the difference between closed and open-ended questions and how using open-ended questions can lead to more effective communication in the workplace
Understand how using affirmations contribute to effective communication in the workplace
Understand how using “I” statements contribute to effective communication in the workplace
Learn and practice new tools for improving communication in the workplace, such as focused observation and engaged listening
I want you to get thinking about what you already do well so that you can build on your strengths
We will take one minute
What you will need: paper and a pen or pencil
List your positive communication skills – the things you do well
Quickly, each person shares one thing he/she does well
Bottoms up!observe/listen first and then communicate based on getting a more informed understanding of the situation conclusions patterns build rapport throw out bias eyes and ears open It’s not about proving what we think we know
it’s all about context! “Never trust general impressions, but concentrate on details.” Sherlock Holmes
We’re going to learn more about how we perceive things
Click on “optical illusions” at the top of the page
Click on “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law” in the box with the stars
Look at the drawing. What do you see? How do you know?
Discuss for about a minute and then someone from each group shares
techniques for improving professional communication
Asking open-ended questions
Using affirmations and “I” statements
engaged listening through observation Observe what’s happening before you start
tone of voice
loud or soft voice
how far/close people are to one another
communication through touch
what others in the room are doing
what objects are in the room – who is using them and how?
Photo courtesy of freefoto.com
practice focused observation
Observe a local cafeteria/lunchroom for 10 minutes
“People watch” in a park or shopping plaza
Watch your kids
Let someone tell you a story, and don’t say a word
Click here to see the video “Test Your Observation Skills”
To make it full screen, click on the 4 arrows on the bottom right corner of the video. To exit full screen, press “esc” on your keyboard or click on the 4 arrows on the bottom right corner of the video
Watch the video. Count how many times the white team passes the rubber band ball.
I’ll take a few answers.
Let’s continue and add another layer of observation.
open-ended questions open-ended questions:
make people feel valued and comfortable
lead to more useful information and more informed decisions
help us avoid bias
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou
acknowledge positive behaviors
help lead to positive change – big or small
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. Nelson Mandela Thanks to National Health Care for the Homeless Council for this great content on open-ended questions and affirmations!
“I” statements i statements:
help us own our feelings and experiences
lead to more cooperative communication
“I” statements Thanks to the Human Potential Center for sharing this great content! Use I feel happy. I don't feel comfortable doing that. I am concerned. I feel in control of the situation. I need help. I want this to happen. I feel unsure about this. I appreciate you. Avoid You are crazy. You should be ashamed. You are wrong. You are making me mad. You could do better. You can't.
“I” statements Thanks to the Human Potential Center for sharing this great content!
avoid “oughts” and “shoulds”
avoid the phrases “I feel like” or “I feel that”
include feelings and not just thoughts
We are going to practice turning close-ended questions into open-ended questions and practice engaged listening.
One person changes a close-ended question into an open-ended question and asks it to his or her partner.
Choose from one of the following questions:
Did you like high school?
Do you know how to cook?
How many people are in your family?
Have you ever gone on vacation?
The partner tells his or her story in less than two minutes. The person who asked the question practices engaged listening.
After the partner shares his/her story, switch.
After the activity one person from each pair will share their experience. What was hard, easy, uncomfortable?
recommended readings Essential Research Methods for Social Work Allen Rubin, Earl R. Babbie (2009) “I Statements.” Human Potential Center (http://www.humanpotentialcenter.org/Articles/IStatements.html) “Outreach to People Experiencing Homelessness: A Curriculum for Training HCH Outreach Workers.” National Health Care for the Homeless Council (http://www.nhchc.org/learningmaterials.html) “ACT launches workplace observational assessment.” ACT (http://www.act.org/news/2010/02/23/act-launches-workplace-observation-assessment/)