Think a Little, Talk a Lot

Alexis Butler

Core Communication

Communication: The imparting or exchanging of information or news, the means of connection between people or places, in particular, are among the ways that you can "technically define" communication.

If everything were up to me, the previous paragraph would look like this:

Communication: the tool I use to interact with family, peers, acquaintances, even strangers by means of verbal, facial, physical, and textual ques in order to convey a message.

When it comes to me, the importance of those messages vastly varies, but in all, communication is a major part of my life. As a fairly "social" person, I'm on the road to degrees in Marketing and Psychology. With those comes dealing with others on a regular basis. Effective communication is important to me, and will be used on a regular basis for future career endeavors. Whether I'm pitching my latest marketing campaign to a business, interacting with fellow employees (or who knows, MY employees), or arguing why my ideas and designs are more effective than another person's using my psychology background, communication, and furthermore EFFECTIVE communication will be crucial.

To start, I offer an image of a conference room, a place of communication between professionals. As an added perk, the stools promote attentive postures, the monotone shades offer little to be distracted by but the stools bring color to the room as to not be bland.

My second display of effective communication, Maria Bezaitis' TED Talk on "The Surprising Need for Strangeness" is powerful to me. I use this example not because it's something that I regularly practice, but rather as something to focus on in my life and actions. Something to focus on in my communication. I don't want to be caught up in "sameness" as she describes, when I'm in the professional world, I want to be willing to venture out of the social norms I know in order to unite many.

My last visual is below the embedded video.

Bezaitis, Maria. "Maria Bezaitis: The Surprising Need for Strangeness." YouTube. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, 14 May 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.

"Tom Dixon Offcut Stool Fluoro: Remodelista." Remodelista RSS. N.p., 25 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.
Maria Bezaitis: The surprising need for strangeness

Week 2 Reflections

While this may not have been mentioned in this calendar week, our exercise on listening is still thought provoking to me.

As my blog title suggests, I talk a lot! However, our activity has made me more conscious of when I'm listening versus when I'm just hearing what the other person is saying, simply waiting for my turn to speak. Even though not everyone I'm supposed to be listening to is speaking directly to me (ie. professors), I still understand that it's important to take what they're saying and absorb it in order to process and appropriately articulate a response.

Just as most people think they're good drivers even when they're not, I've come to the realization that while I previously thought I was a good listener, that I still have quite a ways to go in order to reach my full potential. I refer to the lessons I need to learn from more of an academic stand point simply for the reason that if I'm talking to a friend, the conversation is something of direct interest to myself or important enough to my friend that I find it incredibly necessary to listen. In contrast, I find myself drifting during lectures more than anything.

Working now to improve my listening skills is certainly going to help me in the long run both personally and professionally. On both a personal and professional level, I will be more present and therefore more enjoyable to be around and work with.

I doubt that if you asked someone if their falling asleep in class or drifting away during casual conversation was out of direct disrespect for the speaker, that they would say yes. But how can one help it if their "scatter brained?" As I learned in class, there are many tools that can be utilized to improve listening skills. One must remember always, though, that neither Rome nor your perfect listening skills were or will be built in one night or just at will. It takes a lot of work!

In the next weeks, focus on one helpful listening tool. Tools I'll be working with include relating my life to lecture material, making connections to other courses and looking what the classes have in common, jotting down notes (but not trying to write every word the speaker says), and not having my phone present during class.

I like to think that improving my ability, not just my desire, to listen will make me a better person in the long run. How do you think that improving both your ability and desire to listen could benefit you? What tools will you be focusing on?

Time for Three! (Week 3 Reflection)

"We will be working on a group project this week!"
These words have been the root of many sleepless nights, stress fueled freak outs, bad hair days, and unsatisfied sighs for many students. This I'm certain of.

Generally speaking, I'm in the same boat. Group projects in the past have consisted of battles between hard workers and coat-tail riders, perfectionists and kids who irritatedly say "does it really matter?" for me, but with the discussions and teachings of this week, I'm not so scared any more.

Realizing that we have a solid group on our hands and that we all bring valuable traits makes me "see the light" and having done impromptu's on how to deal with antigroup roles helped immensely in setting a certain standard of "THINK" as described in my image.

Shared in our speeches, aggressors, blockers, dominators, and recognition seekers are our least favorite group members and we all seem to support each other in how to deal with such trouble makers. On another note, we all seem to represent all of the group orientated roles. We all display characteristics associated with being the initiator, information or opinion giver/seeker, analyzer, elaborator, summarizer, and administrator. We also all share more social individual traits crucial in every group such as gatekeeper, encourager, harmonizer, and sensor.

Knowing that we're all so wonderful and well-equipped to tackle this group project, is reassuring. I'm not sure about you guys, but I'm relieved! I know we'll all be able to utilize our individual strengths and understand eachother's weaknesses in order to all cross the finish line together to make a community change! Let's do this!
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Lollipop Leadership: Reflection 4

In both our class and my bimonthly leadership seminar , Drew Dudley's TED talk on "Lollipop moments" has come up. I don't fully believe in signs or anything, but I'm going to go out on a limb and decide that this and the current societal ideal of success and leadership being challenged in my other two classes as a pretty clear sign that it's time for a change in how I view leadership.

That said, prior to the start of the quarter, I could have hesitantly suggested that I considered myself a leader. I knew, however, that I hadn't done anything great. I hadn't won a Nobel Prize lately, rallied thousands to support some worthy cause, or anything else that we correlate with leadership and greatness.

Over the past few weeks though, I've experienced a paradigm shift. I've come to the conclusion that while a peace prize and uniting the masses is great and should be encouraged, the "little things" matter too. We can use those little opportunities to brighten day, to raise the morale of those around us for the better.

Having tested on the Task Process Leadership Questionnaire with a "Democratic Shared Leadership" style, I think that my view on things is fitting to my results. While I believe that getting things done is important, I also classify the morale and "vibes" of sorts of the group to be almost as important.

I know that having changed my views on leadership will only benefit me because I can implement this in how I decide to lead. With aspirations to end up in the business world, the difference between a leader and a manager continues to grow, but I think with this information, I can use a drive for productivity and an understanding for the importance of morale to support everyone around me and earn my way to the top.

Leadership lies in the lollipop moments.
Do you consider yourself to be a leader after watching Drew Dudley?

Numero 5

Communication can be tricky. As a fairly interpersonal kind of individual, I'm regularly working to improve not only my verbal skills, but my nonverbal skills as well. Considering the likelihood that my impromptu speech was memorized verbatim by all of you is slim, I'm going to take this time to both reiterate and expand on my 5 communication skills that I believe are important.

  • Establish your common humanity
  • Adapt to their body language
  • Start with stories, not reasons
  • Keep focused on your goal
  • Give an enthusiastic (but not creepy) smile

Not everyone is going to get along 100% of the time and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get to the root of solving problems. The ability to "establish your common humanity" is not only applicable in an argumentative state, but in my opinion, can also play quite the role in familiarizing yourself with your colleague. This can show them that you're both on they're team, and potentially, that you're both there for the same reason.

How you stand, how you sit, the gestures you use, the faces you make. Not only are these among the things that you don't realize you're doing, but they can speak volumes louder than your words. Body language, to me, is nearly as important as your verbal complication. It can validate (or invalidate) what you're saying while inviting others to feel the way you do about the topic at hand.

Once upon a time, in a land far far away... hold up, wait... let's not get distracted. Stories, like many things, are a good way to bring up specific topics, or, again, establish your common humanity. The thing with stories, however, is that instead of offering reasons and trying to coerce your audience or colleagues to listen, they want to on their own. The way you tell your story, body language (see how these all tie together?), can also contribute in your achieving of audience participation and interest. Needless to say, you shouldn't have to force an audience to listen, and with stories, you don't have to.

New Year's resolutions are one thing, but these goals can and should be created and executed if you're going into a conversation with a specific turn out in mind. Goals, and the keeping to them, can keep you from getting distracted whether we're referring to your story telling, an argument, or just a general speech. Straying too far away from your goal can lose the interest of your listeners.

Maybe you didn't practice a smile for picture days growing up (like my mom made me do), but it's never too late to look at that mirror and start. It's okay to love your smile and admit that you have a pretty great one! Let your audience and colleagues know how interested, excited, and genuine you are with an authentically enthusiastic smile and you'll go miles.

To me, these five skills feel like second nature, but like all things that feel easy, I know there's always room for improvement. I've been working hard for a long time to improve and I intend to continue doing so. Can you think of times where you've already used one or more of these skills naturally? Are there areas in which you could improve?

Number Six Just for Kicks

If you're feeling anything like I am, you're more than ready for the weekend. Ready for sleep, ready for rest.
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At any rate, this week kept me busy and I have to say that I actually enjoyed doing my process speech. While I didn't do what I had initially anticipated, working on how to make the process as smooth as possible for the sake of time and minimal quiet gaps was worth while experience and challenge.

On another note, having taken the PRCA-24 quiz from the week overview, I have to say that I agree with my results. I used mostly 1's and 5's to answer the questions, but more 3's than anything during the public speaking and only received a 47 overall giving me a "low level of communication apprehension." Given my seemed communication abilities, I'd say that I'm comfortable in social situations.

The Lucky Seven: Reflection 7

The assignments in the overview came at a good time. I don't think that two weeks ago I could have taken from them what I did today, namely Brown's "The Power of Vulnerability."

For starters, vulnerability isn't something that I've taken into consideration for a while. I like to believe that my lack of thinking on the topic implies that I've started to come to the "sense of worthiness" that Brown speaks of even though I know the validity of this claim may be weak.

Conversely, I'm under the impression that I've come a long way in regard to my acceptance of vulnerability. I don't know about you guys, but middle school and high school felt like an obstacle course of vulnerability avoidance. Whether pretending not to like your crush until they were the first to admit it, insisting to your friends that you're "okay" after family crisis, or never revealing what makes you, well, you. Shame and vulnerability were always to be avoided in those teenage years. Being human and feeling was avoided because being such things could be seen as weak.

I make the bold statement that I've come a long way because I simply don't care whether I'm seen as weak to someone who doesn't know me. As Dr. Seuss once said, "Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Always remember to see yourself through the eyes of a friend and that vulnerability is okay. How have you grown? How can you continue to grow?

8 Straight: Week 8 Already!?

Through the examination of this week's overview, I found the Personal Cultural Preferences quiz made available to us the most interesting.
Having placed with a 58 (in the 41-80 range) I've been titled by this quiz put on by Toyota Financial Services as "Moderately Monochronic."

With this explanation from Toyota:

"These individuals demonstrate an organized approach to projects and are committed to their completion on time. They ultimately prioritize the successful completion of projects, and tend to address tasks in an analytical and information-oriented manner. These individuals tend to prefer an isolated and uninterrupted work environment; social interaction has its appropriate time and place. Their significant communications are usually to the point, logical, and written. Though group input is an important element in these individuals’ decision-making process, they ultimately rely on personal judgment to make important final decisions.

Tips for Monochronics:
Be flexible, and watch yourself to see if at times you are too rigid
Be more spontaneous and follow your intuition
Learn the magic of teamwork
Share credit and reward with others

I can say that while I agree with some aspects of the description, I strongly disagree with others.
To elaborate, I love social interaction and find it easiest to study in coffee shops and other such public places when I'm by myself because I don't have to sit there in utter silence listening to myself type. Conversely, (while it may not have shown as strongly this quarter due to 3 large group projects due at the same time) I'm usually very systematic and committed to group projects and the efficiency of their completion.
Additionally, to expand on the tips for my "type," I'm regularly told to be more spontaneous and flexible when it comes to the way I live and how I go about goal setting/attaining. I could certainly use a little spontaneity in my life. However, having grown up playing soccer with the same 17 girls and a strong team dynamic, I'm fully capable and very good at both knowing "the magic of teamwork" and sharing "credit and reward with others." I'm under the impression that very few good outcomes come solely from the hard work of one, that it instead takes a village at times.

I'm curious to see if you guys have chosen the Cultural Preferences quiz as your topic of reflection this week, but if you didn't, I'd still enjoy reading through your results. I'm very curious on the matter? How did you guys rack up? Did you agree or disagree with your result? Let me know in the comments below, gang!

9 Stories is Better Than One

As Abby mentioned in class in regard to our featured video of the week, The Danger of a Single Story, you nearly find yourself being exactly the person that Chimamanda Adichie describes in her talk. You find yourself right in the middle of a single story by looking at this stunning African-American woman standing tall with her hair tied up in a dotted wrap and almost assuming that she must have grown up impoverished, she couldn't have had access to education, and seeing visions of African tribes one with the beautiful landscape. You find yourself in the middle of Africa's single story.

You feel guilty when you realize that she's not too different from you and her childhood was to match. Just as she expresses toward the end, the danger of a single story is that single stories find only things to separate and alienate us from each other when in all reality, we're more similar than we realize.

While we may not be guilty of extreme cases of falling for single stories, the challenge here is to be introspective enough to find those instances when you have been in even small ways. While stories can both play someone/something up or down, neither way should ever be "acceptable" regardless of the fact that it happens so often.

I try to be as objective and neutral as possible but I still find myself falling into simple stories like stereotypes of specific schools and the behavior of their students (*cough cough* PARTY SCHOOLS! *cough cough*), or even the idea of which part of Spokane someone grew up in can help determine their socioeconomic status before you even ask them. Big or small, when have you fallen into the danger of a single story?

Week 10!

Greetings, Colleagues!
I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with smiles, laughs, and plenty of food. I know mine was!
In reflecting the topic of the week- disclosure- I found today with so many family members, awkward silences, and trying to make small talk to avoid them, that I tend to disclose too much. In realizing this, I couldn't help but try to introspect further in attempt to understand. I came to the conclusion that in our noisy society where we're constantly surrounded by distractions, blurting out the first thing that comes to mind (good or bad and regardless of how personal) and discussing that topic seems to feel better than sitting there saying nothing at all. We surround ourselves with coping mechanisms in the form of chatter.
Did you find yourself over disclosing this holiday? Sharing things that maybe weren't necessary or just talking for the sake of it?