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Communication Skill Assessment

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By Author: Sherry Roberts
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Being able to have effective communication is very important as a life skill. Communication involves the passage of information from one location to another in the form of verbal, visual or written forms. The ability to communicate accurately, clearly, and as intended is an essential skill that every individual should cultivate. Communication skills are applicable in all aspects of life involving either the verbal or the non-verbal method. Effective communication helps to better understanding people or situations. In addition, they enable them to resolve differences, build trust, and create good environments for interaction and affection (Barth & Lannen, 2011). Effective communication is a learned skill. The more effort and practice one put in, the better they develop the communications skills.
In the analysis of personal communication skills, I used a through thoughtful self-evaluation involving a number of steps. The first step involved rating my level of competency on skills applied in public speaking, research, and analysis, personal, interpersonal, written, and in solving communication problems. The next step involved identifying some of the areas that best demonstrate my strengths, weaknesses, and also the areas that I need to improve. I then used a table, to summarize, the analysis with respect to the strengths, weaknesses, and the improvement areas. As I did the summary, I had four levels of describing the assessment. They are; Level 1 requires improvement, Level 2: average, Level 3: above average, and Level 4: Exemplary (Martin, 2011).
My communication gaps
Communication gaps are the areas that I identified as weaknesses, and hence require improvement. Communication gaps occur in various contexts and can be eliminated through several ways. The gaps occur through communication propagated through face-to-face, by phone, letter, or e-mail. After the assessment, I realized that I talk very fast at times thereby limiting the other party in understanding all the details. When communicating with others, I find myself making long sentences within a short duration of time. It leaves the listener with questions since he/she did not capture everything. Another gap is the use of gestures and non-verbal cues in an unclear way to others. For instance, I might be putting something across that is humorous, but my facial expression shows none of the humor. I also a communication gap in using many words in a description even when few details are required. The other gap in communication is, having the assumption that asking for a clarification from the other party is an act of poor listening skills.
Additional training required in specific areas of communication
I need training in understanding how to vary my voice with respect to the rising and falling intonation especially in a long sentence. It is a challenge for me to identify the areas where to pause, raise, and lower the intonation of my voice. The other area pertains the training on how to maintain soft skills to others whether at a higher or lower level than my position. It is not easy to maintain the soft skills in the communication, but they are essential for sustaining the interaction between two parties. Another area that I require training is in clarifying the situation according to the context before entering into a deeper description. The other area is how to organize thoughts quickly in a meeting that require fast responses. The last aspect concerns how to take charge of a discussion, and still encourage the participants to continue making their contributions.


Ways of improving my current communication skills
Improving the communications in the workplace increases the ability to achieve success, and thus promotions as advancement in the profession (Keenan, 1997). One of the effective methods is talking less, and taking more time in listening. For people to hear and listen to what I tell them, I must also learn how to listen to them. One should focus more on the concerns and issues of others other than their personal agenda. The other way is by focussing on the message presented rather than the messenger. Understanding the content of a message depends much on the individual perceptions of the speaker and the expected outcomes. The next issue regards avoiding mind reading. Whenever, I require something in the form of action or response from others, it is important to let them know what I want or how to get it. Feedbacks are essential in understanding the needs and expectations of others in a conversation. Another consideration in seeking to improve my communication skills is looking for areas of mutual agreement rather than creating conflict in the communication process. Trying to prove a point does not necessarily facilitate an opportunity for pushing others into it.
Another way of improving the skills is by working on the written communication tools. One should learn how to create good emails that other employees will love and understand with ease. An effective communicator knows how to speak fluently in pubic to a group and relating well with all the participants without developing unnecessary conflicts.

References
Barth, J., & Lannen, P. (2011) Efficacy of communication skills training courses in oncology: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Oncology, 22(5), 1030-1040.
Gillis, A. E., Morris, M. C., & Ridgway, P. F. (2015) Communication skills assessment in the final postgraduate years to established practice: a systematic review. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 91(1071), 13-21. Doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2014-132772
Keenan, R. (1997). Strong communication skills improve advancement possibilities. Electronic Design, 45(9), 184
Martin, C. H. (2011). Transactional analysis: A method of analyzing communication. British Journal of Midwifery, 19(9), 587-593.

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