The Course Project is about improving your interpersonal communication skills. As a result, in Part 1 of the project you will select a communication goal or challenge that is related to interpersonal communication. You will work on this challenge for the duration of the session, so take some time to consider what is worthy of the time. Use the process outlined in Part 1 to identify your challenge.
Note: Since you will later in the course be implementing new communication behaviors to rectify your communication challenge, it is critical that you will have interaction with this person or these people identified in Part 1E over the next eight weeks.
Take some time to think about challenges you have communicating with other people. These difficulties may involve strangers and acquaintances, friends, family members, or people at school or work. You may identify situations that involve specific individuals or general circumstances. Some examples include having trouble starting a conversation with someone you have never met, saying “no” when your sister asks to borrow money, or participating in meetings, even when you have a question or contribution to the discussion.
1A. What are your “I can’t” communication behaviors?
Make a list of 4-8 challenges relating to your interpersonal communication that you feel require attention because you “can’t” seem to do these well.
- I can’t ask my friends for favors when I need their help.
- I can’t discipline my daughter without becoming angry.
- I can’t say “no” when my boss asks me to work overtime.
- I can’t address employees directly or clearly when corrective action is needed.
- I can’t stop coming across as sarcastic in my conversations with others.
- I can’t keep my staff focused on the discussion at hand during meetings.
- I can’t accept constructive criticism without becoming defensive.
When you have completed your list, describe each “I can’t” behavior in detail (1-2 paragraphs each), and provide examples to illustrate why you included each behavior in this list.
“I can’t say no to a family member if he or she asks for my help.”
Unless I have a really good excuse, I can’t say no when a family member asks me to do something. Even though I often feel like I am being taken advantage of, I still feel obligated to help. Our family is very close and we do a lot of things for each other, but my family members tend to ask me to do the things that nobody else wants to do or is willing to do. It has become expected that I will do the things that others will not.
Last week, I used a vacation day and cancelled personal plans on two separate days to tend to family business. On Tuesday, I took my grandmother to the doctor for an outpatient surgical procedure because my mother had an important business meeting that day. On Saturday, I cancelled a dinner with old friends to look after my three-year-old niece so that my brother and sister-in-law could celebrate their anniversary.
1B. What are your “I won’t” communication behaviors?
Now read your list of “I can’t” communication behaviors aloud and consider each one carefully. Go back and read each behavior aloud again, but this time, substitute the word “won’t” for “can’t.” (“I won’t ask my friends for favors when I need their help.”)
Be honest with yourself – were there behaviors on your list for which the word “won’t” seemed more accurate than the word “can’t?” Probably so, because there are very few communication behaviors which people are physically unable to do. “Won’t” suggests that an element of choice is involved.
Make a list of any statements that you revised to say, “I won’t,” and describe for each why it is more accurate than the original “I can’t” statements. Eliminate any “I won’t” statements from consideration for this project.
1C. What are your “I don’t know how to” communication behaviors?
Now go back to your remaining “I can’t” communication behaviors and try substituting, “I don’t know how to” for the words “I can’t.” Instead of saying, “I can’t keep my staff focused on the discussion at hand during meetings,” try saying “I don’t know how to keep my staff focused on the discussion at hand during meetings.”
It is important that you not take the phrase “I don’t know how to” too literally. You may find that you do know how to do some of the things on your list, but you don’t know how to change from your existing poor habit to an improved communication behavior.
“I don’t know how to say no to a family member when they ask for my help” might sound strange to some. Of course you know how, you just say “no.” In reality however, saying no may not be that easy, it may not be your habit, may not come naturally, and so forth. In addition, you may not recognize that there is a time for “yes” and a time for “no” and part of rectifying this communication behavior is establishing criteria by which you evaluate the appropriateness of saying yes or no given the circumstances. Then, you develop the necessary skills, language, and so forth to say no effectively.
Make a list of any statements you revised to say, “I don’t know how to,” and describe for each why this is more accurate than the original “I can’t” statements. If there are any issues that you still feel belong on your “I can’t” list, include a narrative to describe why.
The “I don’t know how to” items on your list are the ones to consider for this project. These are the ones you can expect to change by taking this course. Select one of these problem areas to work on for the remainder of the course and for the purpose of this report. Describe your process for eliminating additional “I don’t know how to” items to narrow your list to the one issue that you finally selected for the project.
1D. Write a narrative describing how you eliminated those that remained in the “I don’t know how to” category to decide on the one issue you selected for your project.
1E. Write a clear statement of the communication behavior you will address with this project and the person or people who you will be communicating with for this project. For example: “I don’t know how to say no when my brother asks to borrow money.” It is critical that you will have interaction with this person or these people identified in 1E over the next eight weeks.
Please see the blue box below for a list of each section that is due for this report. Please put your name on your paper and label each section clearly.
Narrative Report for CCC Part 1:
In this report describe in detail how you chose this one communication problem area you intend to change. Use the process described above as a framework for this narrative and include in Part 1 of your report the following items:
1A. Your original list of “I can’t” behaviors, and a 1-2 paragraph description/example for each behavior.
1B. Your list of the behaviors that more accurately fit the “I won’t” category, along with a narrative describing why you feel they belong there instead.
1C. Your list of issues that more accurately fit the “I don’t know how to” category, along with a narrative describing why you feel they belong there instead. If applicable, describe why you left certain issues in the “I can’t” category.
1D. A narrative describing how you eliminated those that remained in the “I don’t know how to” category to decide on the one issue you selected for your project.
1E. A clear statement of the communication behavior you will address with this project. For example: “I don’t know how to say no when my brother asks to borrow money.”