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Delivering Constructive Criticism

Submitted by Kortney Tucker


Salt Lake Community College
COMM 1010
October 23, 2016

Change #1

There are several minor things that I would love to improve in regards to my own
communication with others. However, one of the main hitches Ive discovered is my ability to
attentively and effectively listen in large groups. Being attentive in large or small groups is
imperative and lets the people youre with know that you care about what they are saying.
Although I understand this and truly do care about those who I am talking with, its slightly
more difficult to focus all of my attention to them when I am overhearing other
conversations, or people are trying to get my attention. In order to fix this hitch, or overcome
this habit, one would need to devote all of their attention to the person that is speaking to
them. By doing this, it will create a stronger relationship with your friends, family, boss,
coworkers, and anyone else you come in contact with.

Description of Problem:
Personally, it is more difficult to listen to someone thoroughly and completely when
theyre talking to me within a large group. Im attentive at first, but then as the conversation
goes on and as other conversations around me progress, I become more involved in what
theyre saying, rather than my own conversation. I tend to have this faulty assumption,
where I believe that listening is passive; when in all reality, good listening is hard work.
(Personal Skills, pg. 61) Being passive in a conversation as a listener is detrimental and can
ruin your relationship with that person, or make it so they wont want to communicate with
you. For example, I was in a large group with many friends, and a specific friend came up to
talk to me. I was listening at first, but then lost my focus on her and what she was saying
once someone else starting talking to me. It was obvious to my friend that I was no longer

paying attention to her so she went away. This happened on several occasions, to the point
where she would start saying random things to try to get my attention back, or tell another
friend that I had totally just stopped paying attention to her. This was a huge problem and it
made it so she no longer had that desire to talk to me as often as before. If I had simply
devoted my full attention to her in that scenario, she wouldve had higher views of me as a
friend.

Resources and Constraints:


There are several resources one can look to for help in this matter. A primary resource is the
text book. It has helped me personally identify why I have been having problems listening in
bigger groups, and realize what Ive been subconsciously doing in my conversations.
Another huge resource is people around you that you feel comfortable talking to. Those
people are the ones who have developed a skill in this area, because they have already
listened to you effectively in the past in order for you to know that you want to communicate
with them. For me, this summarizes my best friend. She always has been a good listener,
whether its one on one or in larger groups. Either way, she gives you her full attention. My
constraints are within myself and require me to simply get out of that habitual stage. I need
to consciously strive to listen in larger groups and do what the textbook says: Ask
questions or paraphrase the senders ideas, making sure you have understood them, and
be an active communicator. (Personal Skills, pg.61)

Recommendations:

In order for me to become a better listener in groups of all sizes, but more
specifically ones that are larger, I need to be consciously listening and interpreting their
message. This will make me an active listener, and will help me to not be distracted by
those who are around me. Because I will be focusing my whole attention on the person Im
having a conversation with, and providing feedback, I will be able to make them happier and
pleased that they talked to me.
To begin, I will immediately focus my attention solely on the person speaking to me
when they accost me. Right then, I will also get rid of any environmental barriers possible.
You cant eliminate all environmental barriers, but you can often manage them. (Listening,
pg. 62) An idea might be to move the conversation where it is a little less noisy or even a
few steps away from some other people in the group.
Second, I will consciously remind myself that effective communication is not the
senders responsibility, but the receivers. It is the recipient that communicates. The socalled communicator, the person who emits the communication, does not communicate. He
utters. Unless there is someone who hears there is only noise. (Personal skills, pg. 60)
This is important to understand, because as a listener, you are the one that holds the key to
communication. Without a listener, there is no conversation.
Third, I will focus on not letting my mind wander. As mentioned in the text, the brain
processes 500 words per minute, while speakers talk around 125 words per minute. This
creates a lot of time for our minds to either explore the speakers ides, or wander. I tend to
succumb to the latter. I believe the cause of this is preoccupation to other tangents or things
on my mind. In the past I have started to listen, but then started thinking about what those
around me are saying, or other things that I am more concerned about at that particular

moment. Even when your current conversation is important, other unfinished business can
divert your attention. (Listening, pg.63) By eliminating this and focusing on staying in the
conversation while not having my mind wander will be greatly beneficial.
Lastly, I will maintain this attentiveness and be actively involved in the conversation.
This was emphasized both in the text book and by my professor, so it would obviously be of
great importance. How I can do this is by responding to the speaker, but not overwhelmingly
ruling the conversation. For example, I can ask questions and paraphrase what theyre
saying. Sincere questions are genuine requests for information. (Listening, pg.68) If the
receiver is continually asking questions or paraphrasing whats been said, it is showing that
they care about the person and what is being said. It is a sign of respect for that person and
will help to gain a better relationship with them.

Summary:
I struggle at attentively listening in large groups. My mind tends to wander and I
subconsciously lose focus on the person and what they are saying. I worry about my own
personal concerns, rather than devoting my full attention to the speaker. I am concerned
that it might permanently ruin my relationships with others and their desire to talk to me.
However, I have learned specific ways to help overcome this concern through the textbook
and those around me. By following those few simple steps, I plan to successfully get good
results, and become a better friend, family member, student, and person as a whole.

Change #2
Another minor hitch that I want to overcome is getting rid of my fear and anxiety
when talking to those in a higher position than myself, or to those who are superior than
me. Developing a confidence when speaking to someone with higher authority is vital
and very beneficial to you and those youre communicating with. It shows that you are
professional and can effectively communicate with not only those equal to you, but
those who are of higher importance. You need to show the listener, that you can
effectively and confidently convey the message or information that you are there to
convey. By doing this, it will help you be more successful in the workforce and in a
higher place of education.
Description of Problem:
For myself, I have found that it is more difficult to maintain confidence in myself
and not get anxious when participating in upward communication. This could be
speaking to a parent, teacher, boss, church leader, etc. Having this habit could be
deleterious when in the workforce, because the person who hired/ might hire you, wants
someone whos confident in themselves and can speak intelligently when speaking to
those of higher authority. For example, if someone were an interviewer looking to hire
somebody and the person was constantly fidgeting and nervously shaking, that would
be a turn off immediately. An experience I had that relates to this is when I was having
an interview for Sterling Scholar. Overall I tend to develop a confidence as the
conversation, or interview progresses, however, in the beginning I get anxious and tend

to fidget and rub my hands together. I get super sweaty and start to lose focus on the
interviewer, as I become more consumed in my own nervousness. Having confidence in
yourself helps to bring confidence in others towards you. By getting rid of that initial
nervousness, it will help to get the job at hand done most effectively. (Basics of
Business and Professional Communication, pg. 8)

Resources and Constraints:


The text book is a great resource to look to when furthering your knowledge on
this specific topic, as well as other attributes to have when communicating effectively.
However, it didnt give me as much information relating to anxiety and nervousness, but
rather how upward communication is beneficial. Another resource is those that do hold
higher positions than you. They werent always in that position, and were in your exact
shoes. They are most likely going to be able to relate to you in some way or another
and give you valid tips on how to better communicate to those with higher power. A
more specific example of this is one of your teachers. They have had more years of
experience in this area and most teachers tend to have that desire to help students
succeed. They will be more than willing to help you. Constraints for one might be having
little experience so you wouldnt have that personal background knowledge that some of
us have. Or, you simply dont have time with your heavy workload and family life

Recommendations:

I propose that in order to overcome this nervous anxiety that might innately come
when talking to someone of higher authority, one would need to develop confidence in
him/her-self. Anxiety in itself is an inimical characteristic and not one thats desired. To
get rid of this by replacing it with confidence will both better yourself emotionally, as well
as make it more comfortable for the person on the opposite end.
For one, we can be more strategic. Before accosting someone of higher
authority, take time to plan a little ahead and think about your purpose and how youre
going to convey it. We craft messages to achieve instrumental, relational, and
identity goals. (Basics of Business and Professional Communication, pg.8) We almost
do it subconsciously when going to approach someone. We think about what we are
going to say, and how to word it in order to get the response we want. Like this, we have
to plan ahead and be strategic about how we go about conversing with them and
maintaining that respect towards them and their higher position.
Two, understand that messages relayed through upward communication can
benefit both subordinates and superiors. Although it might be nerve wracking at first,
those things most likely need to be said. If you have a concern in the workplace or a
coworker is not doing what theyre supposed to do, nothing will change unless you
address the issue to someone with more control. I todays society, Bennis realizes that
The single most important characteristic (of a good follower) may well be a willingness
to tell the truth. (Communicating at Work, pg.17) Your boss might not like what you
have to say at first; but in the long run, being honest and truthful to your superiors will
be what matters the most and will be more beneficial.

Three, Dont wait for someone to recognize you or choose you for a prime
assignment. (Communicating at Work, pg.16) Be confident in your abilities and
achievements. Go into the conversation with high self-confidence and worth in yourself,
and the conversation will go a lot smoother. They will see your confidence and
achievements as you present them, but not in a bragging way. This will most likely also
have a positive effect on you as youre no longer worried about several things that you
arent and worried about what might go wrong, but rather what youve achieved and why
you deserve to be there talking to that person.
By acting on what Ive previously said, I hope to have beneficial results like that
of Mattel Corporation in respect to upward Communication where observers credit the
dramatic turnaround to its CEO John Abermans openness to employee suggestions.
(Communicating at Work, pg.16) Upward Communication can be risky, and to some
extent frightening, but also very important. If I can effectively change myself and be
more confident when talking to those superior than me, I believe that my confidence will
grow as a whole and it will benefit my company that I work for, as well as improve my
classroom experience.
Conclusion:
When participating in upward communication I get nervous and have anxiety.
This could be deleterious to me in the workplace, school, at home, or any other places. I
tend to be less confident and sure about myself when talking to those with a higher
position than me. I get nervous and relax after being in there for 5-10min. I rely on their
comfortability in being there rather than my own. I am worried that this nervousness

might prevent me from getting certain jobs in the future, or being able to learn effectively
and have a good experience at college. However, by developing confidence in myself
and planning ahead, I hope to have positive results and good experiences from it.

Works Cited (for both issues):


Adler, R & J. Elmhorst. (2010). Communicating at Work (10e). Boston: McGraw Hill.
Adler, R., J. Elmhorst, & Lucas, K. (2013). Communicating at Work (11e). Boston:
McGraw Hill.
Haslam, Steve. "How to Be a Good Listener." Lecture, Communications Class, Copper
Hills High School, West Jordan, October 2016.