July 10, 2007 Characteristics of Competent Communicators

27 07 2007


Part of being a competent communicator is the ability to adapt effectively to any situation. It is sort of like cooking and knowing what vegetables to use and which way to cook them. Competent communicators are able to choose from multiple possible responses rather than resorting to always being quiet or being loud and telling jokes. Today, to help us become competent, we will fry up the ability to choose the most appropriate behavior, grill the skills, steam around the cognitive complexity, roast empathy, pan out self monitoring, and boil our way to commitment.

First, competent communicators are able to fry up the most appropriate behavior. Not only is a large range needed, but the knowledge of when it will work and wont. Factors in choosing a response include the context- time and place, goal- personal goal or to help others, and knowledge of the other person which considers the personality and how they will react in the situation.


Second, we gotta be able to grill the skills and have the knowledge to know what to do. The directions to become a competent communicator don’t come on a plastic bag filled with knowledge from the frozen food aisle, but I will tell you four steps that will help. First, there is the beginning awareness where we learn of new and better ways. The first time putting the skills to use will be awkward, filled with fumbles, and may be difficult to take the full grasp. After some practice though, that’s when the skills start to take shape. We are able to handle ourselves better, but still take the time it takes to grill over what we are doing. We’ve do a great deal of thinking and planning at this point, and start integrating it into our lives and are able to perform in an instant. We have grilled the skills and have become a competent communicator.


Third, we must steam cognitive complexity and be able to construct a variety of frameworks for viewing an issue. We must get out of the box where we only think one way and take a step back to look at the variations and angles possible. Since overreacting and misunderstanding the situation can lead to destructive reasoning and hurt relationship, to think well in complex situation is a necessity to communicate competently.


Fourth, we need to roast empathy and the ability to feel and experience another person’s situation, almost as they would. Sometimes, we forget about how others experience things differently and don’t respond in the same manner as we do. Instead of pushing their feelings and experiences aside like they don’t matter, take a moment to understand as if you were living in their shoes.


Fifth, we must pan out some self monitoring to become a competent communicator. Self monitoring is the process of paying close attention to one’s behavior and using the observations to shape our behavior. It helps us to be more accurate in judging others emotional states, remembering information about others, helps us be less shy and more assertive. When we monitor ourselves, we are able to look at our faults, learn from them, and better our communication skills as we go.


Lastly, it all boils down to commitment. People who seem to care more about a qualitative relationship will get a better response. If we care and are committed, we take the time needed instead of rushing through, not only talk but also listen, and not speak in a fashion the other person wont understand rather than talking over them. Competent communicators are able to get the message across in a sincere, knowledgeable, and proactive form.


In conclusion, how do we know if we are a competent communicator? It is when we are able to get thrown into a situation and come out alive and well. While a camp’s faculty were having their nightly meeting, myself and a few others were asked to watch 120 kids while they watched a movie. Sure, no big deal. That was, until the movie ended 20 minutes before any faculty were to appear.


Since back in the day I had been grilled with skills while working with Child Evangelism Fellowship, I jumped to the stage because I knew otherwise the kids were going to get real impatient and run wild. As I jumped up the stair steps, I fried up the appropriate behavior to have in front of the kiddos. The factors taking place were the context of 7pm in the gym, goal was to keep the kids occupied while their leaders were gone, and I had knowledge their 8-11 year old bodies had a lot of energy that had been pinned up for the last hour. So, I decided to fry up some silly, over exaggerated, songs filled with movement.


I had forgotten how much little kids love singing! They were totally into it, staring at me like I had just told them they could get more than one candy at canteen time. I asked for volunteers to help out on stage, and over half of the hands went up. After about 15 minutes, there was a group on the back left that had stopped participating like the rest of the group. I panned out some self monitoring to see if there was anything I could do differently. I changed things up a little bit, but got slightly frustrated that the group still wasn’t participating.


At this point, I decided to steam up some cognitive complexity and look at the situation in a different angle. Had I been a kid playing hard all day, I may have been tired and sat out as well. So I roasted up some empathy and could understand and feel for them. I stayed committed to the group the whole time. I used my past knowledge to give them an activity they would enjoy, was sincere in wanting to make it fun, and took action to make it happen. I’d like to say that I was pretty competent communicator in this situation.


Granted, we are more competent in different situations and that time I got lucky it was one I could handle. Understanding the characteristics of a competent communicator helps us to be one step closer- sort of like cooking and knowing what vegetables to use and which way to cook them.





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