How can we evaluate ourselves as listeners and communicators and why is it important? This week each of us were asked to access our communication skills and select two individuals (a colleague and family or friend) to rate our skills in three areas: verbal aggressiveness, communication anxiety and listening skills. All of these factors combined form our opinions and perceptions about life and the people that we associate with, whether on a personal or professional capacity, on a daily basis.
Before I share the results I posed a question to one of my classmates that is it possible to get different results based on how well individuals know us. For example, my friend or family member would know me on a personal level, whereas a colleague I would have more of a reserved or professional relationship.
In assessing my skills, I asked a co-worker that I’ve known for about a year, and one of my closest girlfriends who has known me for more than twenty years.
For Listening skills across the board was Group 1. I agreed with this assessment as I tend to be a people’s person, empathetic and willing to build lasting relationships with individuals I meet. One area of concern is that we tend to be trusting of information given to us. I must say that prior to turning 35 I would agree with that particular assessment of myself. Now I’m willing to dig deeper before I make any judgments.
In regards to verbal aggressiveness, my colleague scored me at 58 and my girlfriend scored me at 59. I gave myself a 63. This places me as a moderate meaning I try to maintain an even balance when communicating and try to reason more with facts on the topic being discussed. I think when I initially took this test I tried to account for the times that passion outweighs facts. This is an area where I believe I can grow and become a more objective listener and considerate communicator.
Lastly in the area of communication anxiety, my colleague gave me a 34. My girlfriend scored me at 23 and I gave myself a 36. My girlfriend commented that as a public speaker, I make it look so easy whereas she has a fear of public speaking. My colleague and I agreed that my anxiety is mild in that I don’t have a problem with communicating but in how to address or start a conversation where the topic or subject matter is uncomfortable or may have the tendency to escalate if feelings are hurt.
It was interesting to see that overall I portrayed the same perceptions in my professional and personal relationships. What I’ve learned is that there is room for improvement. Having children definitely changes your perspective in what you say and how you present information to them. As an educator, my responsibility is to monitor my actions, opinions and biases to ensure that I present a calm and reasonable atmosphere for my students to share information without fear of prejudice or embarrassment. My job is tow-fold; first I must make sure that I hear and understand them. Secondly, I must ensure that I give them the voice to be heard.