To communicate with others, to convince and to find the compromise, to listen and speak - those are what the life consists of, and the business life especially. Without those important skills no success may be reached, and people gain these skills and improve them during their whole life.
This year we were given a lucky opportunity to have some sort of training. The Communication, to my mind, is one of the subjects we apply to our life not once, and studying interpersonal skills maybe the most interesting occupation I can imagine. I think, nobody can remain indifferent to the relations between people, their behaviour and their individuality. It is no matter who are you - the manager of giant corporation or, let’s say, a low-paid employee in a small office - if you are involved into some kind of business activity and have some goals and wishes - you are compelled to have a deal with others, without possibility to stand out from the communication.
Surely, some of the basic communication skills we learn in a childhood. But it is a common mistake to consider them stable and sufficient. To make a progress in communication skills means to succeed. That is why to prepare for a hard task to be managers we must estimate our present abilities, and then compare them with those necessary to achieve desired result. Even having a high opinion of your own communication level you would better seek for the plenty of self-confidence. (It is not so bad but there is always a room for improvement).
The purpose of this report is to analyse changing in my experience concerning communication skills taking into account my previous behaviour and what have I learned this semester. I am going to describe my impressions after participation and observing role-play situations, critically estimate my weak and strong points. The contents of report are divided in accordance with plan of our course in order to summarise it.
What have I learned during the course
1. Effective listening
A wise ancient Greek philosopher said once, «We have two ears and one tun - to listen more than to speak», and as the most of the philosophers are, he is absolutely right. However, still not the most of people apply this wisdom in their lives. Even speaking one language, using the same words, we can rarely understand what an other person says. This thing happens because people during a conversation are too attentive to what they are going to say to create a good impression. Sometimes we forget about the simplest way to move the feelings of interlocutor - about effective listening.
Frankly speaking, the skill of listening is one of those I am proud of possessing. While being a schoolgirl I have understood that it is easier to concentrate during the lesson and asking teachers to explain, than to see into books after school instead of spending a free time. Little by little all the teachers got used to see I am interested in their subjects, and sometimes explained me personally what I wanted to know. May be subconsciously I used those techniques for effective listening, and I am sure they are really effective.
In ‘’teacher - student’’ communication, I think, the listening skill is very important, but also it is necessary for conducting business talks and different interviews. How often we see people who can’t come to the agreement because of being unable to listen! It is no sense trying to convince a person if you don’t show interest. It is impossible to see another point of view if you only hear it but not listen.
Up to my mind, this basic communication skill is rather easy to learn, except the ability to be objective in all the cases. Every one of us has hidden prejudices and only really talented interviewer can confront his or her biases completely.
So, the effective listening wasn’t a novelty for me, but the communication training showed that it is no limits for improvement. To finish with the first skill I’ll quote once more the words by ancient sages: «If I listen I have an advantage, if I speak - others have it».
2. Feedback as an interpersonal skill
I will continue the tradition of citing authorities. «Treat people as you want to be treated» - anyone, I think, knows this common truth. Let’s consider it in sense of providing feedback. When talking or acting in a certain way I expect the information about some aspects of my behavior. Both me and person giving this information are mutually interested in truthfulness and timeliness of feedback to make the communication more effective. If my way of behavior corresponds with expectations the feedback is positive and both sides are likely to give / accept it enthusiastically. But such a consonance rarely happens.
The problem is to provide person with negative feedback. In that case both sides feel themselves uncomfortable, especially if a person providing feedback cares about results trying make another person not feel offended.
As for me, I always avoid hurting people, may be even when they deserve it. That is why the techniques of providing the negative feedback are very useful.
The progressive management, I think, must apply these methods to motivate workers, but ‘former soviet’ people still prefer the straight judgement not the careful analysis of their performance.
«The praise is pleasant even for a cat». This phrase is not so sophisticated and philosophical as previous were, but it is rather closely tied with following part of my report. At first sight it is similar to giving feedback, but it turned out to be the usual approach in foreign companies to evaluate employees’ performance. As I know, the majority of our domestic companies have no idea about systematising their relations with subordinates in such a way. They conduct a some sort of performance-appraisal interviews spontaneously, and it seems quit natural to them.
If speaking about the approaches to performance appraisal, some of them I think are absolutely unavailable for our reality. For instance, the Critical Incident Method, which is supposed to be more effective because of full information, may create a misconception of person’s performance due to possible subjective evaluation. Other two methods - Rating and Management By Objectives - are more likely to fit the real life, but it will take a time to inculcate such techniques.
4. Skill of oral persuasion
Nobody will deny the importance of this aspect of communication. It is, I would say, a quintessence of communication training, which includes all those above mentioned skills.
A manager may reach a success using persuasion, not authority, even when having authority. The fact, that the power does not means the motivation is obvious for the democratic society. If you want to impose your views on another person or on a group of people it is not enough to order them thinking in certain way. If it were a kind of dictatorship it would be enough, but we study the conditions of democracy.
Now, knowing the theoretical base, I can conclude that my attitude to oral persuasion was a little bit passive and it was my blind spot. I feel I must improve this skill and I am encouraged to do well, because some of my classmates turned out to be the outstanding persuaders.
2. The usefulness of communication training: how to deal with “real” businessmen and with classmates
Now I would like to say a few words about our practice in communication role-plays. Participating both as actors an observers we had a possibility to imagine the real situations. Sometimes the role-plays were successful, sometimes there was a lack of preparation. I wish I should more actively participate, but it is my fault that I hesitated to show my view and to compete.
I found it more difficult than it seemed to be natural. Some situations were rather unusual for me: knowing how I had to behave, I tried applying theory, but rarely imagined myself in similar situations.
Due to these difficulties during the communication training I learned my weak points and the ways to improvement. But to use all the skills we must make the adjustment to reality, which is more competitive than studying conditions. As the famous Russian general Suvorov said, if it is hard in exercise, it is easy in action.
The most interesting and useful part of training for me were Persuasion and Performance Appraisal. By the way, observers all the time used some sort of appraisal, and observing was the item I really was in favour of.
The role-plays prepared under scenarios I think were a little bit far-fetched, and it is more natural to use our own names and individual traits in performances. Therefore the improvisations like those played while discussing Persuasion Skills were more useful.
The course of Communication Training was one of significant theoretical and practical importance for me. The communication skills are necessary if you wish to success in business activity or in any other sphere of life.
The effective listening skill is very important in relations with people. Some of us can hear what others say, but can not listen. It is matter of common sense: to listen is the simplest way to create a good impression.
Providing feedback gives the possibility to inform a person about some aspects of his/her behavior ant it’s effect on you. The real difficulty is to provide person with negative feedback. To avoid hurting a person we should use several techniques, and their main idea is to keep it impersonal and nonjudgmental.
The performance appraisal skill is used systematically by foreign managers and has a great impact on the career of employees. During performance-appraisal interview managers make decision concerning promotion or dismissal of his subordinates.
The skill of persuasion is also one of the basic communication skills. To motivate people do what you want them to do it is not enough to have the power. Being persuaded people feel they are acting on their own accord. Improvement of persuading techniques means using facilitative tactics and tailoring your approach to different people.
The participation in role-plays was interesting and useful both for the actors and observers. However some situations hardly corresponded with life and performances played on spot were much more vital. Due to this communication training I investigated my weak and strong points and found the ways to improve.
Thus, my general impression about the course is very good, and I wish we had more time for such a subject to master the skills of communication.