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It takes great leadership to approach people and talk to them effortlessly. My cousin has struggled with these concepts all his life because he is a shy person. However, he is an ideal depiction of the importance of listening skills as well sensitivity to others.
Background of the person
The person chosen for analysis is an individual I have known since my childhood; he is my cousin Mark. His parents and mine lived in the same neighborhood for approximately seven years, so we interacted frequently. After Mark’s family moved out, we would still meet each other at family gatherings or arranged visits. Therefore, I would say that he is someone I really know. Mark also understands me; he is the kind of person who does not judge others easily without giving them an opportunity to know them well.
Characteristics of his communicative behavior
Some people would argue that Mark is an ineffective communicator owing to his introverted behavior; however, I would say that such people have prejudged him since he has so many desirable communication skills.
Mark’s verbal communication is unique in a number of respects. Mark rarely dominates conversations; when in groups, he will not try to outshine others. Instead, he will struggle to stay under the radar or be invisible. Furthermore, my cousin sometimes stammers or goes silent when he meets new people.
The most perplexing part about this is that he has trouble expressing himself even when the new acquaintance comes from his field of expertise. When I confronted Mark about this issue, he told me that getting tongue-tied has prevented him from ever approaching a girl.
His current partner was patient enough to get over those long periods of silence during their first dates. She usually does most of the talking in their relationship. Gamble and Gamble (2009) explain that in communication, one’s message or the content of the communicative process is essential in interpersonal contacts. People must think through the things that they need to talk about. In Mark’s case, this is a huge challenge.
In terms of his non verbal communication, Mark often has a difficult time looking people in the eye. Regardless of our relationship, he still struggles with this from time to time. The problem gets worse when meeting new business contacts. It is a good thing that Mark works from the house as an online forex exchange trader.
This means that he does not have to go out and meet new people. Mark is also uncomfortable with body contact and often refrains from touching someone when speaking to him or her. It is quite difficult to read my cousin’s facial expressions because he rarely has any. In fact, he does not use hand gestures to support his statements, and this gives strangers an impression of a cold and detached person.
Sometimes Mark can come off as restless and fidgety; he likes to play with his fingers and hands, which can be distracting. I also realized that Mark will go to great lengths to maintain a comfortable distance with the people he is speaking to. Silence is an important non verbal cue in Mark’s communicative style. He will pay utmost attention to the person talking to him, and will recall even the most technical part of a conversation.
Relationships form a vital part of communicative behavior according to Gamble and Gamble (2009). These authors explain that effective communication builds relationships.
It fulfills the need for people to be in control, affectionate and included. I believe that Mark has fewer relationships than some other people I know. However, he treasures these few relationships. He will work hard to keep them going because he knows that it will be a while before he can make other friends. Mark is always careful about creating misunderstandings when communicating with his friends.
He often gauges what he has to say before he says it, and sometimes goes overboard with this. Mark may refrain from expressing his feelings right away, if he senses that it may cause negative consequences. Most people who really know Mark admit that they trust and respect him. Since trust-building is an important part of communication, then one can assert that my cousin is effective in this area. It is relationship creation that is a problem for him.
What Mark can do to become an effective communicator
Since Mark’s communication inefficiencies often start with new acquaintances, then he needs to work on his conversation initiation skills. He could work on introductory phrases and words to tell strangers in social gatherings and the like. He can also try to compliment people when meeting them for the first time (Wade & Tarvis, 1990).
People tend to respond to positive and sincere comments, so he should not go over-the-top with this. Mark can also practice how to make conversations with people by identifying something that he has in common with them.
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Mark’s biggest barrier to communication is psychological (Murray, 2000). He has a fear of meeting new people and this is impeding his social life. Mark needs to find out why he is so afraid of talking to new people. It could be something that happened to him a long time ago.
Alternatively, he may be afraid of what others think about him. Mark ought to realize that other people’s opinions of him do not have to define his reality. He should not exaggerate the effects of disapproval in his mind, because this overblown fear may be preventing him from having more relationships.
My cousin should also work on a number of verbal and non verbal techniques. First, he should practice eye contact. Here, he can start with friends and relatives like myself. When working on this skill, Mark can scan the area just above the eyes; that is the eye brows, and then move down to the person’s nose.
Once he has mastered that area, then he can start looking directly into the eyes. He should work on his intonation and facial expressions. He can watch television presenters and take notes on this. He should make his voice soft and loud at appropriate times. Mark should use gestures sparingly when in formal situations, but they should exist nonetheless (Katz & Aakhus, 2002).
How to apply these conclusions to my own communicative behavior
I have learnt from Mark that listening is an indispensable part of the communication process. I should be just as interested and open minded as Mark when listening to people during a conversation. Furthermore, I should be as sensitive to other people’s needs when communicating to them as Mark is. Mark has also taught me the importance of selflessness because his conversations will rarely be about himself or winning.
In terms of the negative aspects, I have learnt that one must work on one’s self perception in order to become an effective communicator. Mark is crippled by the fear of what others think about him, and this has prevented him from enjoying more social interactions or relationships. Non verbal skills are an indispensable part of effective communication. In this case, Mark lacks most non verbal techniques such as eye contact and facial expressions. I need to avoid falling into the same trap that my cousin has found himself.
Gamble, T. and Gamble, M. (2009). Communication Works. NY: McGrawhill
Katz, L. & Aakhus, M. (2002). Perpetual contact: private talk, public performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Murray, A. (2000). The Wealth of Choices. NY: Crown business
Wade, C. & Tarvis, C. (1990). Learning to think critically: the case of close relationships. NY: Harper Collins.