Rachel Wyss email@example.com We have all had our fair share of communicating, whether we mean to or not, we are conveying what we are feeling, thinking, doing, etc., verbally or nonverbally. We express ourselves not only though voice but also through our body language, posture, tone of voice, eye contact, and paralanguage. Paralanguage is defined as a wide range of vocal characteristics, each of which helps express an attitude. (Alder-Elmhorst, pg 105). According to Job Outlook 2009, the top skill or quality an employer is looking for in a potential employee is good communication skills. (Adler-Elmhorst, pg 5). It’s a very important trait to have, even if you are not in the work force. It’s an important key to any good relationship as well. Since communicating is such an important factor in the workplace, it is vital to have an effective means of communication. This is primarily done through technology. I have found it is hard to communicate and do business when a company is not up to date on technology. I worked for a local dry cleaner recently and found out that although this company ran based on technology, their computer and software systems were quite old. There were many times when the computer program would crash and I was left helpless. The only option I had was to call my manager who proceeded to tell me to call tech support. Meanwhile, I had customers constantly coming through who I had to turn away because all the operations were based on this particular computer system. That was not good for business. For communication within the company, we had telephone and e-mail. This seemed to be enough since the company isn’t very large and there weren’t a lot of problems. It wouldn’t be necessary for all employees to have a work phone for text messaging for example. This company in particular had reasonable means for communication for their employees. Something I have not had experience with (yet) in a job is attitudes towards generation gaps. In the fast paced and increasingly technological workplace, it can be frustrating when others have trouble with keeping up with the technology. People mainly think this about the older generations, “Boomers” and “Generation X”. Those who fall under the category of “Boomers” were born between 1946 and 1964. They are described as optimistic and believe in change for the better. However, they are used to getting their way. “Generation X” were born between 1965 and 1982. They have become more inclined to using technology in the workplace. They are also found to be more loyal to people rather than organizations or companies as a whole. I fall under the category of “Generation Y.” They have grown up with technology advances and are comfortable adapting to further advances. They are used to multitasking, which can interfere with being able to focus on one task at a time. (AdlerElmhorst, pg 48-49). Another thing I related to while reading Communication at Work was attitudes towards accents. I have traveled to many places, many of which the people speak different languages. However, because there are a lot of tourists, these people learn several different languages. It becomes confusing if you are talking with an Italian who is trying to speak broken English. Their thick accents make it hard to concentrate on what they are actually trying to say. I had a counselor in high school that was from Australia. His accent was perceived in a different way. Many other students found it nice to listen to and pleasing to the ear. On the other hand, I know several students who are from Africa. Their English is very good; it’s their accent that makes it hard to understand. It can be very distracting and I have to pay very close attention so I end up lose key qualities of paralanguage. Unfortunately, accents make getting a job more difficult. “Research suggests that speech differences are powerful. Speakers of standard dialect are rated higher than nonstandard speakers in a variety of ways: They are perceived as more competent and more self-confident, and the content of their message is rated more favorably.” (Adler-Elmhorst, pg 46). Along with accents (and sometimes because of accents), people tend to develop ethnocentrism. “This is the inclination to see all events from the perspective of your own culture and to evaluate your own culture as superior. Ethnocentrism is evident when you judge someone to be less intelligent or less important because he or she doesn’t keep up with your national teams, critique others as less sophisticated because their dress doesn’t match your culture’s notion of fashion…” (Adler-Elmhorst, pg 55). Accents and ethnocentrism lead people to form opinions about not only their speech but also by their nonverbal interpretations. “Even after first impressions have been made, the impact of nonverbal behavior is powerful. In fact, when nonverbal behavior seems to contradict a verbal message, the spoken words carry less weight than the nonverbal cues.” (Adler-Elmhorst, pg 104). One of the biggest nonverbal cues we display is eye contact. I had a volleyball coach who believed eye contact was very important. I hadn’t really noticed I didn’t make eye contact when listening in a large group, but she made it known to me. She said it portrayed how you felt about her, that you respected her, and wanted to hear what she had to say to make you a better player and listener. It also shows confidence and that you can take criticism and learn from what she has to say. When she had phrased it like that, it clicked and I made it a point to always make eye contact with her whenever she spoke to me, whether it was one-on-one or in a group. “Eye contact can be a good indicator of how involved a person is in a situation.” (AdlerElmhorst, pg 108). I agree with this 100 percent. I am still working on this, but I have noticed I really do listen more when I am actively engaged in eye contact and focus on what my body is saying to the receiver. Another type of nonverbal communication is your appearance. To me this incorporates body language as well as the way we dress. “As a rule, people who look attractive are considered to be likeable and persuasive, and they generally have successful careers.” (AdlerElmhorst, pg 106). If you look the part, you will be given more credibility. All these types of communication are important to remember. We may not be successful in every area of communication, but the more we understand, the more effective we will be in communication at work, at home, and in everyday of our lives. Adler, Ronald B and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst. Communicating at Work. Tenth Edition. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 2010.