My Self Evaluation as a Communicator

My “Listening Styles Profile” results were what I expected. I came up as a “people oriented” person. My colleagues thought that was about right for me. I agree with the description that it can “interfere with proper judgement”. In my case it would not be because I am trusting, but sometimes I feel that I need to give people another chance at doing something.

The Communication Anxiety Inventory was different. I thought that I never worry too much about communicating within groups, but my sister and a colleague from my school thought otherwise. They both thought I worry and stress before engaging groups and they both felt that I was more comfortable when communicating on a one on one basis. This is what the test describes as “situational” anxiety.

I scored low on the Verbal Aggressive Scale which was right from my viewpoint and my colleagues concurred. I do not like confrontation and this results in my respecting all points of views and trying to come to a settlement that makes all the parties involved feel respected.

These test made me aware of the importance of listening more. This is a great asset to have in our profession as early childhood educators. The more we listen, the more we will understand the needs and goals of our families and that in turn will help us develop plans to help them achieve their goals. The other point was the importance of being respectful in our communications. It is easier to change people’s minds when we are respectful and mindful of their views, than when we are not.

I found this exercise very useful and insightful as it highlighted the areas of communication that I need to focus on in order for me to be a better and more effective communicator.

 

Advertisements
Standard

Intercultural Communication

Growing up in Kenya where we have 50 different African tribes, an Indian population that has been in Kenya for five generations (their ancestors came to Kenya in the 1800s to build the railway system for the British), we have a large Arab population at the coast, most descended from the Arab traders,  and we also have a White population that is fifth generation Kenyan who stayed on after Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963, I have had to deal with intercultural communication all my life. This class on communication has given me a lot of information that I can use to make my intercultural communication better.

I do find myself communicating differently with people from different groups and cultures. For instance, when I am with the Kenya community I am more relaxed in my communication, when I am with people from different cultures I find that I increase my self- awareness by learning more about them. I also communicate differently when I am with my friends who are very religious, I cannot discuss certain television programs that I love to watch because some of them are offensive to them, some of them find shows like “Dancing with the Stars”, and the “Real Housewives” franchise as immoral. In these cases I have to talk about general non-controversial issues. I also communicate differently when dealing with different age groups, for instance I will be more relaxed when communication with people my age and have to focus more when communicating with the younger generation because of the different ways in which they communicate.

The three strategies that I would use to help me communicate more effectively with the different groups are:

  1. I would work to increase my knowledge of the different cultures and ensure that I was communicating ethically during the intercultural communications. By seeking information I would avoid “the uncertainty and anxiety that we may feel when we interact with people who are different from us” (Beebe, Beebe & Redmond, 2011, p.106). I would study their communication codes to improve my knowledge. “You learn more about other cultures by actively pursuing information about others” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 104).
  2. I would avoid stereotyping and ethnocentric thinking. I would assume that we are all human and with different ways of understanding our environment and we should all respect our different views.
  3. I would increase my motivation to be an effective communicator by being open to improving my skills in dealing with different groups and cultures.

“The more one interacts across cultures, the more one learns about oneself, and then the more prepared one is to interact inter-culturally” (Alberts, Nakayama, &Martin, 2012, p. 212).

References

Alberts, J., Nakayama, T., & Martin, J., (2012). Human communication in society. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.

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

Standard

Making Assumptions Based on NonVerbal Communication

For this assignment I chose to watch “Transparent” which is an Amazon.com series that depicts a Los Angeles family who discover that their father is transgender and the different reactions that all the children have when confronted by this reality. I had not watched this show and started with the second episode because then I would not guess the natural progression of the story.

I turn off the volume and the episode opens with two women in a romantic embrace. The door opens and there is a transgender male standing there in a dress with a surprised look on his face. The two women react the same way, looking very surprised as if they were caught doing something that was not supposed to be public. The transgender male, then takes one of the ladies’ hands and seems to be reassuring her about his reaction. Both the ladies seem flustered, and he takes one of them into a bedroom where he sits with her on the bed and seems to have a loving and understanding conversation with her. The next scene shows the male in a suit as he heads to an office that has his title and name on the door. He is a college professor. Meanwhile, the two women are shown driving in the car with expressions of incredulousness and relief. I say relief because one of them takes a deep breath and blows out the air very slowly. They keep shaking their heads as they drive as if they cannot believe what just happened.

When I turned the volume back on, it seemed that the transgender male was the father of one of the two women. They had gone to his house to pick up some stuff and did not expect to find him there. He opens the door and finds them in a romantic embrace and is shocked because his daughter is married to a man and has children and he did not expect this. His daughter and her friend, on the other hand, are surprised because they did not know that he was a cross dresser. When he takes his daughter to his room he confesses to her about being a transgender and he also understands her situation. He has not “come out” to the rest of the family and asks her to keep it a secret. He continues his life as a man teaching at the university while his daughter and her friend are surprised by their romantic attraction to each other and their surprise at being seen by the father. They are also surprised by the father’s cross dressing.

I had made the assumption that the women were surprised and shocked at being found out, but it was both parties finding out things about each other.

If I had watched the first episode, I would have had a more accurate assumption because I would have seen the progression of the relationships through their verbal communications.

This exercise teaches us that non- verbal communications which include the use of gestures, facial expressions, and non-audible expressions, are not always straightforward. The interpretations vary within different cultures, ethnicities concerning the way people use their facial expressions, hands or their heads when communicating. In this case I had made the assumption that the surprise was one-sided, that is the father finding the women in a romantic embrace, but it turned out that both sides were surprised.

Standard

A Competent Communicator

My center director is an amazing communicator. She is very patient, fair and makes time for every faculty member. I chose to write about her because she makes everything seem so simple when you think you have a big problem. I remember during a staff meeting one of the new teachers asked her for advice to deal with a child who would not sit still during circle time. The director looked at her and told her that if the child did not wish to sit still that was ok. The children do not have complete trunk control yet and it is difficult for them to sit for even ten minutes without fidgeting. She told her that it was ok to have circle time with the children who wanted to have it and ok for the others to engage in an activity of their choice. This reassured the new teacher who was not used to the “learning through play” curriculum.

My Director has great listening skills and makes you feel like she has all day to listen to your problems without judging you. She lets us all know what is expected of us and is always there to guide us. We can reach any time we need her. She has furnished us with her phone, cell phone and email to make it easy for us to reach her. Her ability to communicate so effectively with all of us, keep us all so focused on our work, and her ability to make us all feel  like we are important members of the center and the community, has made her one of the people that I feel that has great communication skills.

Standard

Professional Hopes and Goals

One hope that I have when working with children from diverse backgrounds is that I will be able to nurture all of them to be more aware of the importance of diversity and how by learning about each other we can learn to respect  each other’s culture while holding on to our own. This is important because I would like everyone to find out about their own culture as this will help them develop a positive self -identity and once they have this it is easier to accept others without losing themselves. This will give the children motivation to succeed academically as a result of a confident cultural identity.

One goal I would like to set for the early childhood field is the need for everyone to have culturally competent classrooms and programs. This can come about if all of them take diversity and equity classes and ensure that they impart their knowledge to the diverse communities that make up their programs.

I would like to thank all my colleagues and of course, Dr. Horton, for all the stimulating and thought provoking discussions and posts and I wish all of you all the best in your future classes.

Standard

Welcoming Families From Around the World

I chose to work at a child care center and the family that I welcome will be from Uzbekistan. Having no knowledge of the Uzbek culture, to prepare myself for the new arrivals, I will make sure that I do the following:

  1. I will find out where exactly Uzbekistan is and learn about the culture and the dominant religion. I will do this because by learning about the country and the culture I will have prior knowledge of their culture and will not make any cultural faux pas.
  2. I will try to find out if there are any immigrants –serving organizations or cultural mediators in case the need for their services arises. I will also try to have an immigrant family from the school be their “buddy” family. This will make their transition easier because they will have a family that has gone through the same journey that they are taking, advising them.
  3. I will inform my class and my colleagues of the new arrivals and the need to make them welcome. We will learn something about Uzbekistan and this will help the children to relate to the family with prior knowledge.
  4. I will not assume that they speak a lot of English and will try to have materials translated into the Uzbek or Russian as these are the languages spoken there. We will try to learn a few Uzbek and Russian words.
  5. We will make our class welcoming by putting pictures from the Uzbek culture on the walls.

By preparing myself in the ways described above, I think it will make for an easier transition for the family and the children in the class. It is important for them to have access to other families that are immigrants as this will help them navigate the new cultural and social landscape with families that have had the same experience. Learning a few Uzbek words will help the new child to feel good about their language and the children in the class will not find it strange. Translating the materials into Uzbek or Russian as a backup in case they are not proficient in English will help to demystify the whole enrollment procedure (the various forms that have to be completed, the vaccinations required, the parent handbook etc.).

Standard

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

This morning, I was standing in line to check out my groceries at our local Giant grocery store when the lady in front of me left the clerk checking out her groceries and went to pick something she had forgotten. There was no “excuse me” or “I hope you don’t mind if I pick something I forgot”. She just brushed by me like I was not there. I am not a confrontational person and so I chalked it down to lack of social skills. The woman came back after maybe two minutes and passed by like she had not inconvenienced anyone in the queue. After a minute before the grocery clerk could continue checking her out, she started yelling at a Latina lady with a dog in the next aisle, telling her that dogs are not allowed in the store. She them turned her anger on the checkout clerk and asked her why she allowed the woman to bring her dog in. I thought this was an interesting line of questioning since the clerk had nothing to do with the store policies and the woman was not being served by her. There were no signs informing patrons that animals were forbidden in the store. The clerk who was of Indian descent started panicking and told the rude woman that she had not seen the dog and that customer was not in her aisle so she had nothing to do with it. After ringing up the groceries and giving the customer her receipt, the woman yelled at her and said “American rules must be followed this is not South Asia”.

I was so shocked, I told the checkout clerk that the woman’s behavior was unacceptable and that what she just told her was wrong. The clerk was happy to have the customers on her side. I could not believe that this was really happening and that it was not on the “What Would You Do?” program. I actually looked around to see if there were cameras! The way that customer behaved made the checkout clerk feel helpless and powerless in the face of the microaggression. She was clearly a rich privileged white lady who saw the clerk as a lower class person.

The incident left me thinking about classism and the lack of respect that people get because of what they do. It happens to childcare providers too. I have heard stories of incidents whereby the parents drop off their children in the daycare centers and do not even bother to say good morning.

I wish that the slogan “the customer is always right” was not followed so rigidly.  Workers especially lower level workers such as store clerks, waiters/waitresses are subjected to abuse by patrons and customers because they know that they cannot fight back. I wish these establishments would put up signs that would encourage their patrons and customers to show respect to their workers as they are people who are working hard to make and honest living.

Standard