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Communication is the most essential way in which we connect with others all around the world. The word communication derived from the Latin word commuicare, which means to connect, to participate in, or to share with all.” (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 1.1) More importantly, interpersonal communication is viewed as, “a unique type of communication that involves two individuals interacting via face-to-face or mediated channels.” (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 1.3). Thus, communication and interpersonal communication is a very crucial factor in the sector of professionalism. This memo is created to guide you to why we communicate, what can be looked upon as the principles and barriers, self-concept, self-image, self-esteem, self-disclosure, emotional intelligence, conflicts resolved, gender, culture and what we should do to change how we communicate in a professional setting involving the workplace.
Interpersonal communication has its different principles and its barriers within the principles. There are three principles centered into interpersonal relationships and its communication with others and they are: meeting personal needs, learning about self and others, and building and maintaining relationships. All three of these principles are very important within the workplace or professional setting. Barriers, nevertheless, can be challenging in interpersonal relationships include long-distance relationships, and increase in intergenerational relationships, however, when dealing within the workplace or a professional setting, misinterpretations of verbal and non-verbal communication can become abundant. According the transaction model defined by Bevan and Sole, one of the interpersonal communication is deeply rooted in verbal and nonverbal responses. (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 1.2). Also, in the article, “Shaping Effective Communication Skills and Therapeutic Relationships at Work.”, the author Susan M. Grover states, “Human communication can be best described as a ‘two-way ongoing process by which a person or persons stimulates meaning in the mind of another person (or persons) through verbal and/or nonverbal message.” (Stone, Singletary, & Richmond. 1999, p. 53) (Grover, 2005, p.178). Thus, when you begin to evaluate one’s interpersonal communication relationship skills in the workplace, you must be mindful, first and foremost, of your co-workers, employees, supervisors, and/or managers verbal and nonverbal skills.
Verbal communication is viewed as language mostly, and more face-to-face interactions, which includes formal and informal language. (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 4.1). A perfect example of verbal communication in the workplace would the start of how you obtain a job: through an interview. One of the things that I have always pride myself intro achieving is being an effective, and compotent communicator while in an interview. Some of ways to do an awesome job during an interview, that I have learned from experience, is: keep eye contact, think before you answer any questions, always dress in a professional manner (this includes hairstyle too!), and be mindful of your body language. If you seem too nervous during an interview, the person who’s interviewing you may see this nonverbal communication you are conveying, and it may just cost you that job you always wanted.
Non-verbal communication can be viewed as, not so much language, but more so, non-verbal communication is linked to body language and touch. (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 4.3). Also, authors Bevan and Sole indicated that nonverbal communication can also be viewed in four other categories: managing your impressions and identities, managing and interpreting your relationships, regulating the flow of interactions, and engaging in and detecting messages of emotions, influence, and deception. (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 4.2). For instance, personally, a few years ago, I was ‘caught up’ in an incident at a previous employer that involved nonverbal communication. I thought my boss was treating me unfairly by taking away hours of work that I had already worked for, due to a personal negativity that she felt towards me. In any given situation, whether it is perceived as positive or negative, I do not display negative thoughts verbally, but on this day, I was expressed my feelings non-verbally. I was very quiet as I continued to complete my shift, but my boss could tell, based on my facial expressions, that I was upset. No words were exchanged between my boss and I, however, the very next day when I went back to work, I was informed by her boss, that my hours that I had already worked for was returned to me. Furthermore, I learned a valuable lesson that day, and it eventually, this event paved the way for I how I started to re-assess myself through my self-image, self-esteem, and self-concept of myself.
Self-Image, Self-Esteem, and Self-Concept
Self-esteem and self-image, eventually, leads you towards the direction of self-concept. In the article, “Quality Interpersonal Communication-Managing Self-Concept.” The author, Michael B. Coyle, states, “who we think we are and who we actually are requires careful consideration.” (Coyle, 1993, p.10). If you are a diligent and hard-working co-worker or employer, you will come to understand the importance of your self-image and self-esteem, in the ways in which it shapes your self-concept of yourselves. First, I will start with the definition of self-image and how it impacts your self-esteem.
“Self-image is how you view yourself internally, externally, and how you view others in the same way. It also plays on your experiences, desires, and feelings.” (Bevan and Sole, 2014). Displaying a positive self-image of yourself can help you appreciate the limits, and potential that you may have. For example, Wanda just walked into a building where her new job is located. She is feeling confident, even though, when she arrived, she noticed that several of the new employees who were women, all dress the same, but her work attire was a little different. She was appropriately dressed for work, but Wanda’s self-image of herself was positive, and so was her attitude, or self-esteem, that it did not bother her that she was the only newly recruited female that dressed differently than her co-workers.
Self-esteem is normally defined as how you see, and judge yourself, be it positive or negative. Coyle’s view on self-esteem is viewed as, “. intertwined with our self-concept of ourselves, is based on how we are viewed by others we care for in both a positive or negative way.” (Coyle, 1993, p.10). Also, the author Coyle (1993) also elaborated on self-esteem further by stating, “From a management perspective, people with reasonably high self-esteem tend to perform better under various pressures, they work harder for the people who set high performance standards, and they are more likely to interact constructively with their supervisors and peers.” (Coyle, 1993, p.10). Speaking for experience, I remember when my self-esteem started out negatively, but was turned into a positive. Years ago, started working in the retail industry when I was sixteen years old. I have worked throughout the years in general retail, clothing retail, and retail that is tailored to the pharmacy world. My personality, at first and most times, can be viewed as an introvert, but when working in the retail industry, you have to be both an introvert, and an extrovert. Putting on the shoes of an extrovert can be a tough task for someone whose personality is that of an introvert. Their self-esteem of one’s self can spiral downward, tremendously, in which feelings, and emotions can become inflamed. At the beginning of my career in retail, my feelings, being an introvert, were, automatically affected many times before I received the proper on-site training to deal with my self-esteem. Now, years later, I am still in the retail business, and I have learned how be both an introvert and extrovert, without the pressures and demands of retail lowering my self-esteem.
“Your self-concept of yourself is based on your collection of feelings and beliefs about yourself that you know to be true.” (Bevan and Sole, 2014). Self-concept of one’s self also includes the looking glass self, culture, and social comparison, and, most importantly, the self-fulfilling prophecy of one’s self. In the workplace, according to Coyle (1993), “our self-concept can be affected by our productivity and performance on the job.” (Coyle, 1993, p.10). An example of how you can always maintain a positive view of your self-concept of self is by actively involving yourself as a team player, more so than an individual, unless advised to do so, in the workplace or professional setting. I know that I am a hard work, because I have proved this to, not only myself, but also to my previous employers that I am a hard worker. I am also a team player, a team leader, a great organizer, and I strive to create and maintain positivity while in the work or professional setting. Even as my father, sister, and I started and it now, operating our very own family business, I still incorporated everything that I feel is a part of my self-conception of myself to my workplace.
When you share something that most people would deem to be private or secret to another, this is when you are using self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is also categorized as an intentional act. Self-disclosure is important when building rapport with other people, but it also helps you learn more about yourself. (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 7.4). For instance, my first job a landed in clothing retail was with the clothing company called Marshalls. Marshalls is in conjunction with two other clothing companies called Ross and TJMaxx. I started working at Marshalls during my first half of my senior year in high school. I signed up to become a cashier, because I knew I was better, at that point of time, with dealing with checking out customers rather than helping them find products on the floor. I became very close with one of my co-workers who was an assistant manager over the customer service area. We would engage in different conversations, work related and personal each day, and I begin to understand that we both possessed many of the same similarities. We both started off as cashiers, we both were kind of shy, and we both were very good at organizing, and paying attention to detail. So, she began to teach me other things to broaden my knowledge of the clothing store, and within three months, I was offered a position in the customer service. The act of self-disclosing information to my co-worker in a daily basis put me in the position to be promoted, and to teach me that I can learn something new, and advance myself in my career by, intentionally, practicing self-disclosing with co-workers effectively.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor, regulate, and discriminate against your own and your partner’s feelings in order to guide your thoughts and actions. (Salovey & Mayer, 1990) (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 8.3). There are two types of emotional intelligence supports that can be used in the workplace. The first emotional intelligence support is actions-facilitating support, which is viewed as tangible support and solves problems by nature. For example, my dad shops at various other establishments to obtain DVD and VCR players to sell to our customers. Sometimes, we receive these items for free, and other times, like I stated above, my dad goes out and buy them for a reasonable bargain. My dad and my sister are not that fond at getting to learn how new dvd players are set up, so it is my job to check for any technical issues that the DVD players may have before we put them on the floor to sell. If I do encounter a problem, I sit down, and figure out what needs to be done to get the dvd player in full operational mode. The second form of emotional intelligence is informational support, which is collecting and organized information. This is another duty that I perform at my job. I collect phone numbers from customers who want use to go out and find certain items that they are in search for. Also, I store this information, along with a full inventory list of all the items, bought and sold, that enters our store.
Interpersonal Conflicts Resolved
Interpersonal conflicts can be resolved through conflict management. Conflict management entails, “cooperating, listening, and apologizing when in conflict or disagreement with others.” (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 8.1). One of the best strategies in which you can use when you are resolving interpersonal conflicts in the work or professional setting is personal control. Personal control can best be described as your belief that a tough situation can be dealt with accordingly, and turned positive. When I was, a pharmacy associate back in 2008, an elderly woman called our department to speak to someone about her insurance to pay for her medication. She was very upset, for she could not figure out why her health insurance company, so suddenly, stopped paying for her mediation. I was the one that answered her call, and even though I was not the one responsible for providing our customers with insurance-type information, I quickly showed her my empathy for her dire situation, and briefly put her on hold. Five minutes later, I got back on the phone with the customer, and informed her that her situation, which started out bad, changed into something good, for I had solved her problem on my own, due to watching, and learning from the person who handled insurance claims. The customer was so impressed that she reported my good deed to our district manager, who informed me of a job well done, two months later, during inventory.
Gender, Culture, and Interpersonal Communication
Gender and Culture plays a significant role when it’s based in communication, for we view, not only our society, but other societies as well through the eyes of gender roles, dominant cultures, co-cultures, and language barriers. (Bevan and Sole, 2014). Your dominant culture can have a great impact on your gender and/or culture, so it is very important to get to know each of these types of cultures, for we live, and work in a diverse work or professional setting.
Gender and Culture
Gender and culture are intertwined with one another when you look at them in terms of how we communicate, interpersonally, in the professional setting. One way to look at gender and culture is through its dominant culture. A dominant culture, as stated by Bevan and Sole (2014), is, “a culture that does not totally define the entire culture, but it does, greatly, control and influence our social settings such as educational setting, the law, and businesses.” (Bevan and Sole, 2014, sec. 3.1). As a native, born as a citizen of the United States, I have been encultured in America’s society, which is, learning the norms, traditions, and beliefs of my own culture (the African American Community), and of the dominant culture that is spread throughout the states. Other ethnic groups, who may be immigrants, had to become accultured, which is when they must learn and adapt to the dominant culture, and maintain their co-culture at the same time. This is important aspect in today’s business setting because we work in diverse work environments. There was a time in which you would see only a certain ethnic group working in a particular work setting. During slavery time, you would not see someone in my ethnicity group as a doctor, teacher, or lawyer. However, it is very rare today; in fact, one of the reasons why I am pursing a college degree in to, one day, become a History Professor.
When communicating in a professional setting, one must always be mindful of your verbal and nonverbal communication, our self-image and self-esteem is the makeup behind our self-concept of self, and self-disclosure can help you learn things you never knew about yourself to help advance you in your career. Our emotional intelligence is backed by our personal support of others, while you can learn to resolve your interpersonal relationships via conflict management. Finally, gender and culture in dependent on our dominant, and co-dominant cultures, for we will in a diverse world, society, and will be subjugated to diversity in the workplace. Working in a professional setting will always thrive off effective communication skills, and it will always serve as a greater purpose in your professional career. Thank you for your time.
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