File - Rachel's ePortfolio

Rachel Wyss
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.