Improving Interpersonal Communication Skills
Conducting interview-based research helped me to realize that letting people know what you expect from them is a key to finding appropriate answers to my requests.
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As noted by Nachmias and Guerrero (2011), people can be really helpful and supportive, if they know others’ purposes. This experience applies to everyday life and improving interpersonal communications skills because it minimizes the risks of being misunderstood. Seeking answers to important questions, asking for help, or expressing ideas can become less challenging in case of informing a conversation partner of an initial goal of starting a dialogue. Moreover, I found out that being supportive myself is as well significant if I want to help people feel comfortable when I am around and become more open and trustworthy when sharing their opinions and feelings.
Recognizing cultural differences in perceptions of age and gender helps establish new ties easily and avoid stereotypes in communication, as it is beneficial for growing a culturally competent person.
Baurman (2010) believes that perception of gender and age varies across cultures. Because we behave under the influence of our cultures, we subconsciously assume that people of different ages or gender possess different personal qualities and potential for reaching success in life or being an interesting conversation partner. Getting acquainted with cultural views on these issues helps develop necessary interpersonal communication skills and grow culturally competent thus decreasing risks of misunderstandings and conflicts both in the workplace and in solving personal matters. Also, it is useful for avoiding bias and learning how to estimate people based on their accomplishments instead of our prejudices.
Becoming a More Effective Team Member
Learning to respect differences in cultural values and social background is valuable for finding ways to improve performance and uniting team members, operating in a diversified working and group environment.
Baurman (2010) claims that an impact of a group on an individual’s personal development is as strong as the influence of one’s upbringing and cultural background. It means that, in some cases, social pressure may affect cultural identity and promote prejudice. However, because the first stage of enhancing group influence on team members is getting acquainted with the cultural background of all team members, it is imperative to assure that this phase is accompanied by an emphasis on respecting diversity. This strategy is useful for improving performance and carrying out job duties more effectively due to composing a unique cultural mix, incorporating different approaches to solving problems, and fostering creativity (Guirdham, 2011).
Recognizing cultural differences in the apprehension of age and gender is valuable for avoiding conflicts and establishing a friendly and open atmosphere in a team, fostering mutual trust.
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According to Goodall and Jill Schiefelbein (2010) and O’Toole (2012), culture and upbringing affect the way we perceive power, authority, supervision, and responsibility for carrying out job duties. It means that there is a risk of subconscious prejudice against people, who belong to different cultural, age, or gender groups. That said, growing culturally competent is helpful not only for improving interpersonal communication skills but also for addressing work-related and personal issues. Furthermore, it enhances understanding among team members and helps to create an atmosphere of trust and openness because everyone respects each other and there are no grounds for conflicts.
Becoming a Better Member of Society
Becoming a better member of society requires an in-depth understanding of social stratification to avoid bias and enhance tolerance and social support.
As mentioned by Schaefer (2012), there are three social classes – lower, middle, and upper. Power, education, and prestige are among the primary determinants of an individual’s social position. Belonging to a social class is defined by a person’s resources and background. For this reason, knowing primary differences between classes helps establish ties with others and apply an appropriate model of behavior. However, this knowledge should be supplemented by the recognition that class belonging is a dynamic phenomenon that can change over time. So, judging people based on their background or treating them with arrogance is unacceptable because it is their inner self that defines who they are, not their financial and educational status.
Recognizing that upbringing and cultural values differ across social classes and ethnic groups enhances the ability to become more tolerant and effective in dealing with other people.
Wortham (2012) claims that worldview and behavior are affected by an individual’s upbringing and cultural environment. That is why everyone is different and perceives, gender, age, and ethnicity in a different manner. However, these variances should not be seen as grounds for prejudice or seeding inequality. Instead, respecting them and getting acquainted with the specificities of each culture can become a perfect strategy for improving the world we live in due to enhancing tolerance. Besides, understanding peculiarities of the aging process are beneficial for eradicating the problem of the generation gap, fostering communication between people, who belong to different age groups, and getting rid of the fear of growing older.
Baurmann, M. (2010). Norms and values: The role of social norms as instruments of value realization. Baden-Baden, Germany: Nomos.
Goodall, S., & Schiefelbein, J. (2010). Business and professional communication in the global workplace. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Guirdham, M. (2011). Communicating across cultures at work. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Nachmias, C., & Guerrero, A. (2011). Social statistics for a diverse society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
O’Toole, G. (2012). Communication: Core interpersonal skills for health professionals. Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier.
Schaefer, R. T. (2012). Sociology: A brief introduction. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Wortham, S. C. (2012). Common characteristics and unique qualities in preschool programs: Global perspectives in early childhood education. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.