Inter and Intra-Personal Communication
Reflecting on the course readings and my own level of inter and intra-personal skills, I would say, although not as perfect as I would like it to be, I have a an effective well rounded balanced level of communication ability and definitely the making of the skills required to be a competent and capable effective teacher.
One area of particular strength is my interpersonal communication ability, defined as the ability to discover, relate, influence play and help, DeVito, J, O’Rouke, S, O’Neill, L (2000) p.4. I believe I am relatively successful in coming across as a non-threatening, easy going and secure person, especially in a person-to-person or small group situation. Also I can be assertive, influential, helpful and firm when required.
I have worked on developing my ability to make my students feel safe and secure in my presence using communication as the medium for setting the required atmosphere in the classroom and at the same time establishing boundaries and a presence of structure and authority. I do not feel I am an overly-assertive or aggressive person and if anything I prefer to reserve my opinions and judgments until other people have had their say. I am able to take the initiative when I feel it is needed. To keep a good balance, I try to be flexible and reassess my position from an objective viewpoint as much as possible. I am happy to adjust my position for the benefit of the objective in an ongoing reflective manner if there is another idea or opinion that is better than mine. I try to recognize the merit in that idea and reinforce the benefits of teamwork and collaborative communication as part of the process to gain the best outcome.
One of the best techniques I have learnt in recent years that I was unconscious of for a long time, was the power of affirmation and reinforcing mutual understanding. These days, as a listener, I try to affirm the other speaker as much as possible by using simple phrases like – “ I know what you mean” or “I can see where you’re coming from”. I find this technique, as simple as it is, has a powerful effect in building security and rapport between two people even if your opinions are different, affirming the similarities really helps build trust and mutual respect.
Interpersonal communication skills are vitally important as teachers have thousands of communicative interactions a day in the school setting and carry a responsibility of professionalism and leadership.
Effective communication skills are important to
- help build bridges with reluctant learners
- give clear instructions
- set boundaries
- minimize doubt, uncertainty and lack of basic understanding
Areas for improvement
Like many others, an area I would especially like to become more comfortable and effective in, is speaking and communicating in larger group settings. Although it is a personal goal of mine to improve in this area. I currently tend to shy away from such situations, as I do not feel overly confident in my ability to become the centre of attention in a larger group situation. This is one area I look forward to improving, as I’m sure I will have more opportunity as a teacher to speak to large groups and to build composure and self-confidence. I would also like to become a better active listener. I find I often naturally switch off at times when listening to something that I automatically believe is of no benefit to me. Often this occurs in smaller everyday conversations. People who have the patience and skills to be good reflective listeners effectively use verbal listening skills and are often caring, patient and intuitive and able to quickly build rapport with others. I respect those qualities and the benefits that come with these skills and can see how they could be utilized in effective teacher-student and inter-staff communication.
To be a successful teacher, effective communication is a vital characteristic to posses. Assertiveness and strong intra and interpersonal communication skills balanced with self confidence, patience and intuitiveness are key characteristics needed when managing a group of people. Being assertive means stepping right out of this system, and expressing your own opinions and feelings in a way that don’t put others or yourself down. Assertive messages suggest that my needs and the needs of others are equally important and worth meeting. They invite others to act in ways that also respect both sets of needs. Bolsard, R (2004) P, 151.
Building respect and rapport with parents and fellow staff requires a high level of communication and assertiveness when required. Overly assertive or aggressive behavior on the other hand may be detrimental to this cause, so having a fine balance that fits the culture of the environment is crucial.
Bolstad, R & Hamblett, M. (1992, 1994). Transforming Communication. Auckland, New Zealand: Addison Wesley Longman.
Bolstad, R. (2004). Transfroming Communication (2nd ed). New Zealand: Pearson Education
DeVito, J. O’Rourke., O’Neill, L. (2000). Human Communication (NZ ed). Auckland NZ: Pearson Education
McGee, C. & Fraser, D.(2008). The Professional Practice of Teaching (3rd ed). Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited