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Building Professional Communication Skills

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Building Professional Communication Skills

  1. 1. Professional Communication Skills<br />Building communication skills in the workplace<br />Alexandra Wills<br />
  2. 2. about alex<br />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.<br />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.<br />You can check out some of my work and what’s going on in my life at http://alexandrawills.wordpress.com. <br />Thank you for having me.<br />
  3. 3. why are professional communication skills important?<br />A survey by Peter Hart Research Associates and reported in USA Today revealed:<br />89%of employers think colleges should emphasize communication, both orally and in writing.<br />81%of employers think colleges should emphasize critical thinking and analyticalreasoning skills.<br />“Observation skills are the most used, and the most overlooked, of all critical job skills.” ACT workforce development<br />
  4. 4. today you will:<br /><ul><li> Explore your own strengths and skills when it comes to communicating in the workplace
  5. 5. Understand the difference between closed and open-ended questions and how using open-ended questions can lead to more effective communication in the workplace
  6. 6. Understand how using affirmations contribute to effective communication in the workplace
  7. 7. Understand how using “I” statements contribute to effective communication in the workplace
  8. 8. Learn and practice new tools for improving communication in the workplace, such as focused observation and engaged listening</li></li></ul><li>exercise:<br /><ul><li> I want you to get thinking about what you already do well so that you can build on your strengths
  9. 9. We will take one minute
  10. 10. What you will need: paper and a pen or pencil
  11. 11. List your positive communication skills – the things you do well
  12. 12. Quickly, each person shares one thing he/she does well</li></li></ul><li>Bottoms up!observe/listen first and then communicate based on getting a more informed understanding of the situation<br />conclusions<br />patterns<br />build rapport<br />throw out bias<br />eyes and ears open<br />It’s not about proving what we think we know<br />
  13. 13. it’s all about context!<br />“Never trust general impressions, but concentrate on details.”<br />Sherlock Holmes<br />
  14. 14. let’s practice!<br /><ul><li> We’re going to learn more about how we perceive things
  15. 15. Group up
  16. 16. Click here
  17. 17. Click on “optical illusions” at the top of the page
  18. 18. Click on “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law” in the box with the stars
  19. 19. Look at the drawing. What do you see? How do you know?
  20. 20. Discuss for about a minute and then someone from each group shares </li></li></ul><li>techniques for improving professional communication<br /><ul><li> Focused observation
  21. 21. Engaged listening
  22. 22. Asking open-ended questions
  23. 23. Using affirmations and “I” statements </li></li></ul><li>engaged listening through observation<br />Observe what’s happening before you start<br /><ul><li> facial expression
  24. 24. tone of voice
  25. 25. loud or soft voice
  26. 26. gestures
  27. 27. how far/close people are to one another
  28. 28. communication through touch
  29. 29. appearance
  30. 30. what others in the room are doing
  31. 31. what objects are in the room – who is using them and how?</li></ul>Photo courtesy of freefoto.com<br />
  32. 32. practice focused observation<br /><ul><li> Observe a local cafeteria/lunchroom for 10 minutes
  33. 33. “People watch” in a park or shopping plaza
  34. 34. Watch your kids
  35. 35. Let someone tell you a story, and don’t say a word</li></li></ul><li>let’s practice!<br /><ul><li>Click here to see the video “Test Your Observation Skills”
  36. 36. 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
  37. 37. Watch the video. Count how many times the white team passes the rubber band ball.
  38. 38. I’ll take a few answers.
  39. 39. Let’s continue and add another layer of observation.</li></li></ul><li>open-ended questions<br />open-ended questions:<br /><ul><li> make people feel valued and comfortable
  40. 40. encourage openness
  41. 41. lead to more useful information and more informed decisions
  42. 42. help us avoid bias </li></ul>There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.<br />Maya Angelou<br />
  43. 43. affirmations<br />affirmations:<br /><ul><li> recognize strengths
  44. 44. acknowledge positive behaviors
  45. 45. help lead to positive change – big or small</li></ul>There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.<br />Nelson Mandela<br />Thanks to National Health Care for the Homeless Council for this great content on open-ended questions and affirmations!<br />
  46. 46. “I” statements<br />i statements:<br /><ul><li> avoid blame
  47. 47. help us own our feelings and experiences
  48. 48. lead to more cooperative communication</li></li></ul><li>“I” statements<br />Thanks to the Human Potential Center for sharing this great content!<br />Use<br />I feel happy. <br />I don't feel comfortable doing that. <br />I am concerned. <br />I feel in control of the situation. <br />I need help. <br />I want this to happen. <br />I feel unsure about this. <br />I appreciate you. <br />Avoid<br />You are crazy. <br />You should be ashamed. <br />You are wrong. <br />You are making me mad. <br />You could do better. <br />You can't. <br />
  49. 49. “I” statements<br />Thanks to the Human Potential Center for sharing this great content!<br /><ul><li> be specific
  50. 50. avoid “oughts” and “shoulds”
  51. 51. avoid labels
  52. 52. avoid the phrases “I feel like” or “I feel that”
  53. 53. include feelings and not just thoughts </li></li></ul><li>let’s practice!<br />
  54. 54. <ul><li>We are going to practice turning close-ended questions into open-ended questions and practice engaged listening.
  55. 55. Pair up.
  56. 56. One person changes a close-ended question into an open-ended question and asks it to his or her partner.
  57. 57. Choose from one of the following questions:
  58. 58. Did you like high school?
  59. 59. Do you know how to cook?
  60. 60. How many people are in your family?
  61. 61. Have you ever gone on vacation?
  62. 62. The partner tells his or her story in less than two minutes. The person who asked the question practices engaged listening.
  63. 63. After the partner shares his/her story, switch.
  64. 64. After the activity one person from each pair will share their experience. What was hard, easy, uncomfortable?</li></li></ul><li>recommended readings<br />Essential Research Methods for Social Work Allen Rubin, Earl R. Babbie (2009)<br />“I Statements.” Human Potential Center (http://www.humanpotentialcenter.org/Articles/IStatements.html)<br />“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)<br />“ACT launches workplace observational assessment.” ACT (http://www.act.org/news/2010/02/23/act-launches-workplace-observation-assessment/) <br />