Saturday, September 26, 2015

Communicative Skills Goals

While I am generally speaking confident in my communication abilities, I have some areas that I have been working to improve. From the readings during the past few weeks, I realize that listening is an area that I would like to focus, especially in my chosen field of Public Policy and Advocacy.

The only surprise is how both of my husband/son team and a colleague evaluated and ended with similar results as mine. They really thought that I had great communication skills, and I realize I ought to trust my communication abilities. Having said that, I think I can use more time to reflect on the other party’s communication. As a result, one of my three communication goals for myself is:

1.     I will not engage in competitive or combat listening (Nadig, 2010) because I have frequently engaged in “crossed wires where the two people are not on the same wavelength” (Nadig, 2010). I often have a self-serving agenda to change other people’s minds (Nadig, 2010).

More difficult would be the following two goals:

1.     I will learn to reflect more while communicating. “We often notice when we reflect during a conversation that the meaning we have ascribed to what we’ve heard was not really what the speaker intended to convey” (Williams, n.d.). My listening style is analytical listening which includes “understanding, interpreting, and analyzing messages and which is useful in an exchange of information or ideas” (O'Hair, Friedrich, & Dixon, 2011). 

2.     I will strive to understand and respect other communicators before evaluating and responding to their messages (NCA, n.d.). This is based on NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct, Principles 4.11 that states “When policies are enacted for purposes that do not benefit children, we have a collective responsibility to work to change these practices” (NAEYC, 2005). There is too many “intentional ignorance.” That means that when they really know something, they would choose to ignore the facts or the truth rather than to adjust their own paradigms about deaf children and their need for a healthy and visual/spatial language.


Nadig, L. A. (2010). Tips on effective listening. Retrieved from
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2005, April). NAEYC code of ethical conduct and statement of commitment. Retrieved from
National Communication Association. (n.d.). National communication association: Advancing all forms of human communication. Retrieved from
O'Hair, D., Friedrich, G. W., & Dixon, L. D. (2011). Strategic communication in business and the professions. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Williams, S. (n.d.). Listening effectively. Retrieved from

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Communication and Culture

Do I find myself communicating differently with people from different groups and cultures? Yes, I do, but not because of their cultures or differences. So, mostly, I would engage in a respectful dialogue with people I meet for the first time. Depending on their responses, I would then engage further with them. Most of my encounters with people from other countries are positive. They are usually willing to answer my “curious” questions.

I am not presently a teacher, so I do not have the experiences of communicating with children and their families from different groups and cultures.

Usually, I am open and curious and ask many questions. Most of the time, people respond positively. I think that I show an interest in them, but there was one time when someone told me to ask stop asking so many questions. What I was essentially doing is what Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond (2010) suggested we do. I actively sought information about her, asked her questions, and listened for the answers, but did not yet establish common ground. I am not even sure why she asked me to stop asking questions because to find out I would need to ask another question!

I know that I communicate differently with my children now that they are older and in their 20s. Our topics are more adult-like, too. I like talking with them and their friends because they keep me young. One of them once told me she appreciated my wisdom. Nothing like an innocuous comment like that one to make me realize my own reality!

My communication styles have evolved from my youth to today. I could see where I was once impatient and would have listening issues. I would multi-task – a phrase that was not coined back then. I would get bored easily. But today, I am more mindful of each and every person’s wish to be engaged in a respectful conversation with others. I have had some good supervisors and role models for listening, and my listening skills have improved as a result.

Beebe et al (2010) said, “A key to accepting others is to develop a positive attitude of tolerance and acceptance of those who are different from you.” I feel lucky to have the positive attitude that enables me to accept others who are not the same as me.

Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Nonverbal Communication

It is incredible to watch a pilot episode of a popular television show for the first time – without captions or voice. My son had suggested a popular TV show, How I Met Your Mother, to write about for this blog assignment. I had seen promotional advertisements and vignettes of the show, and it appeared to be a form of Friends ensemble. I literally had no idea what it was all about when I attempted to watch the pilot episode. And only a few of my assumptions had been correct! At the end of the post is a description of the pilot episode.

Without captions or voice, here’s a running assumption of the show episode and whether it was correct.

Character Assumption
Ted, the main character, seemed happy-go-lucky bachelor who was interested in meeting women and having sex but never did want to get married.
Actually: He is a lovable character who does not know social dating cue

Character Assumption
Ted’s best friend, Marshall, is not your usual male Lothario. He just proposed to his long-time girlfriend.
Actually:  My assumption about Marshall was correct.

Character Assumption
Lily appeared to be a school teacher. Cue was a handprint on her shirt.
Actually: My assumption about Lily was correct.

Character Assumption
Barney was a little too opinionated based on his physical mannerisms and facial expressions.
Actually: My assumption about Barney was correct

Event Assumption
Two narrators who appeared to be a female and a male in their early 20s looking bored.
Actually: Their uncle was telling them a story from off-screen.

Event Assumption

There was a male proposing to his male roommate.
Actually: He was practicing his proposal to Lily, his long-time girlfriend.

Event Assumption

Robin came with a group of girlfriends who appeared annoyed at her flirtation with Ted.
Actually: One of the girlfriends was dumped and she was mad at all guys.

Event Assumption

When Robin and Ted were at her apartment door, a TV news van came up to them looking for news.
Actually: Robin was actually a TV reporter; they told her they needed her to report on the breaking news.

 Nonverbal Behaviors: Tactile such as pats on the back or shoulder
Function: Barney pats Ted a lot on his back or shoulders.

Nonverbal Behaviors: Gestures
Function: Almost all characters gestured to encourage additional information. One extended his hand, and the female shook his hand. In that particular TV show episode, that was a lingering handshake that was supposed to be the signal to kiss.

Nonverbal Behaviors: Body Orientation
Function: All characters – mostly Barney – have certain body orientation to represent their characters and the actions of the episode.

Nonverbal Behaviors: Facial Expressions
Function: Again, all characters had facial expressions that represented the events in the episode. However, I misread most of those facial expressions.
Nonverbal Behaviors: Facial Expressions

It was really astonishing to see how we can assume more than we should about both people’s characters and incidents/events. O’Hair et al (2011) wrote, “Don’t assume that because you observe someone being happy, sad, or angry, and so on, you know the reason” (p.104)

How I Met Your Mother is a comedy about Ted (Josh Radnor) and how he fell in love. It all starts when Ted's best friend, Marshall (Jason Segel), drops the bombshell that he's going to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Lily (Alyson Hannigan), a kindergarten teacher. At that moment, Ted realizes that he had better get a move on if he too hopes to find true love. Helping him in his quest is Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), a friend with endless, sometimes outrageous opinions, a penchant for suits and a foolproof way to meet women. When Ted meets Robin (Cobie Smulders), he's sure it's love at first sight, but destiny may have something else in store (, n.d.).


How I Met Your Mother. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

O'Hair, D., Friedrich, G. W., & Dixon, L. D. (2011). Strategic communication in business and the professions. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Great Communicator

This week has had been eye-opening for me; I had not realized that there are communication principles put out by organizations that have a vested interest in such principles. The National Communication Association (NCA) has a NCA Credo for Ethical Communication. The National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has a Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment. Both NAEYC and NCA have a vision for fundamentally ethical communication that would “enhance human worth and dignity by fostering truthfulness, fairness, responsibility, personal integrity, and respect for self and others” (National Communication Association, 1999, para.1).

I have been trying to think of someone who had demonstrated competent communication within a particular context. I thought that one of my church pastors had that communication magic that did foster a sense of fairness and enhance human worth and dignity. It was during one of the more volatile social issues of “illegal immigration” in the early 1990s. The debate was getting more and more heated and polarizing by the day. It would also flare up and cool down and the cycle went on for a long time – unfortunately, we are still dealing with the very same issue. At that time, I was lukewarm about the issue. I could see both points of view. I live in Southern California where it was probably more prominent than in other parts of the country. My thoughts about illegal immigration today was molded and strengthened by our head pastor, Dr. Donald McCullough.

After our church members would ask him privately how we were supposed to respond to the social issue, Dr. McCullough decided to take the issue head-on and surprised the congregation one Sunday with his choice of topic for his sermon. He told us that he had been pondering that issue as did everyone else for a very long time. He decided to read through the Bible to find any potential or possible reason to offer us some resolution and even possibly peace. He said he found nothing to refer to “immigration” of any kind, but that he found something that could be used to frame the issue. Unfortunately, it was a long time ago and I could not remember the specifics of his sermon. Let it suffice that his words changed my life in more than one way.

He suggested that in God’s view, there should not be any boundaries. He went further to say that we had a responsibility to nurture everyone that was within our sphere. He said that those people took care of our children (as nannies), cleaned our houses, and tended to our gardens. He then asked why we would not want them in our communities. That was the turning point for me.

His sermons were always relevant to our modern lives, and cut to the chase, and yet, they were not judgmental or proselytizing. Every week I looked forward to learning how to live our lives better and as Christians. I miss his sermons and think of him frequently when I wonder about some of today’s social issues.

Ultimately, he communicated in a manner that did not provoke but presented his thoughts in a “courageous expression of personal convictions in pursuit of fairness and justice” (NCA, 1999, para.8).


National Communication Association. (1999). NCA Credo for Ethical Communication. Retrieved September 2015 from: