Active Listening Skills

Communication is essential in any relationship. In a professional association, active communication is even more critical. Active communication is the effective way to communicate during a conversation where you improve lines of communication with others while also being aware of your communication barriers. Active communication entails understanding what the person is saying, reserving opinions, and articulating an understanding of the conversation. A practical ability to summarize the conversation implies the overall knowledge of what was heard.

When you are active listening, it’s essential to listen with purpose. Ask yourself, “what is being said?”  Judgment of the content being discussed should be reserved until the completion of the conversation; it’s important to remember that as humans, we naturally jump to conclusions.  Conclusion speculation is our ability to problem-solve and provide an answer as an immediate solution. Make sure to listen for the main ideas or key points of the message. Is there a theme with the main characters? Where is the setting? Is there a question being asked? It’s important to remain flexible during active listening within the conversation.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Active listening encourages open-door conversation. During a conversation, find ways to engage in the conversation.  Does the speaker use phrases, acronyms, paraphrasing, or other communication jargon?  It’s important not to be thrown off course by words that may affect your emotions during a conversation. Continuing to listen without the urge to debate encourages active listening.  Remember, many people communicate to impress, not to express; in other words, make sure that in the communication, if there is a misunderstanding about a word, phrase, or jargon, ask the speaker to clarify.  These all show practical ways of active listening in a conversation.

Overall, remember active listening includes paying attention, showing that you’re listening, providing feedback, deferring your judgment, and responding appropriately in the conversation. And be sure to pay close attention to the speaker, whether in a group or on one-on-one.   Put aside distracting thoughts that may deter you from listening closely. Make sure to nod to engage the speaker and show your listening occasionally. Encourage questions by providing follow-up questions or feedback. Your role as a listener is to understand what is being said, not to come to premature conclusions.  Ensure to respond appropriately with your active listening abilities. Make sure to be candid, open, and honest with your responses. And make sure you treat the speaker in a way that brings respect to them and yourself.

Happy listening,

Jenice

Resources

Keys To Effective Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from https://gacc.nifc.gov/eacc/logistics/crews/documents/keys_to_effective_communication.pdf

Mendoza, L. (n.d.). Developing Effective Communication. Retrieved 2021, from http://kortschakcenter.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Workshop-Presentation-condensed.pdf

Tutorials Point – Effective Communication. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.tutorialspoint.com/effective_communication/effective_communication_tutorial.pdf

Focus on Your Strengths

As great as we think we are, we all have professional flaws.  I will admit I heavily depend on auto spell check and have struggled with attention to detail since I am a “Big Picture” worker.  I have been made aware of these professional flaws my entire career.  It seems that the more I try to improve my professional flaws, the further I get from focusing on what I am good at.  We cannot change intrinsic parts of our personality.  Some attributes will always be a part of us.  But there are practical ways of improving our humanistic professional aptitude.  

Throughout my career, I have taken dozens of personality tests.  The first time I took a personality test was during a job interview for a private culinary school.  The job I was interviewing for was Academic Advisor, and the pay wasn’t great.  The interview process was grueling and took almost 10 hours to complete.  It consisted of group projects, one-on-one panels, and finally, a personality test.  It was my first time taking a personality test, and it seems a bit mentally intrusive.  

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

“The goal of this exam is to choose the first answer that that resonates with you.”  The announcer stated, slightly smiling at all of us candidates.  As I read quickly through the short instructions, I realized that there were only two potential answers to choose from.  “Oh, this is going to be a breeze!” I muttered to myself.  As I began to read the questions, I noticed that most of the questions/answers were simply reformatted over and over again.  I zoomed through the questions and finished the exam in 20 minutes.

Feeling pretty great about the potential job offer, I sat down for my final interview with the hiring manager.  “Thank you for coming in and spending the day with us; we appreciate your time and efforts to stay for the duration of this interview day, Jenice.”  He said with extreme direct eye contact.  “Thank you, I appreciate it,” I responded.  “What was your favorite part of the interview day?” He asked.  “Honestly, the personality exam … it was my first time taking one,”  I responded with a smile in return.  “Really?  The personality exam was your favorite part?” He asked.  “For sure, it was fun.  I am excited about learning more about my results.”

I concluded with insistence.  “Well, before we do that … I want to tell you a little bit more about the position you interviewed for.  It requires some personality skills that are embedded in who we are as individuals, not things we can necessarily change about ourselves.  And unfortunately, you don’t have those personality traits.”  He finalized. 

My mouth dropped to the floor.  “Oh, what does that mean exactly?”  I asked with great hesitation.  “To be honest, you are an ESTJ which means, for the most part, you are a natural leader and lack empathy.”  He said, thumbing through my results. “But, that means that you now need to focus on your strongest traits and find the position/career that is right for you.”  He smiled.  “Okay … so I didn’t get the job?” I asked.  “No, we would be doing you a great injustice to put a personality such as yours in this position.  If we have any leadership positions open, you should apply to those positions.  Again, thank you for your time.”  He said as he handed me a copy of my personality results. 

What did you get from my experience?  I know I received one of the best pieces of professional advice I could have asked for.  I wanted to learn more about my strong suit and what an ESTJ was, so I researched my personality.  I have done several personality exams since that interview and guess what?  I am still a strong ESTJ personality type.  There are significant parts about this personality type and all personality types.  The point is, that the hiring manager did me a professional favor.  I was able to truly focus on what I was good at and not try to change parts of myself that are what make me … me.  To this day, I tell that story to those who have hard times finding their professional purpose to give them an understanding – you are great the way you are.  But do you know who you are?  Sometimes, your purpose is to focus on what you are good at and let everything else work out on its own.

Focus on learning and growing every day,

Jenice

Resources

Friedman. (n.d.). MBTI Personality Test. Retrieved 2021, from http://www.lrjj.cn/encrm1.0/public/upload/MBTI-personality-test.pdf

Myers-Briggs Test Excel Version. (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=b2Nkc2IuY2F8bWxsZS1jYXJyaWVyZXxneDozYzI1MmFlYzY3Y2QzODRh

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Short Version). (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from http://apps.nacada.ksu.edu/conferences/ProposalsPHP/uploads/handouts/2013/C079-H04.pdf

Weighing the Pros and Cons

How many times have you gone into a situation with the mentality, “if it works it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t?”  I can tell you from experience if you have that mentality before you have fully committed to the “process,” you have already given up on the whole situation.  “What do you mean, Dr. Jaye?” you may be asking.  If you have started a new position, you are initially excited about, and you have been working hard to obtain … then something happens you don’t like.  For example, there is a conflict of interest between you and another co-worker.  Nothing illegal, simply a personality conflict.  Then, you start to think about all the negative things that could go wrong.

As humans, our brains tend to create hypothetical fictitious situations that may or may not occur to validate our negative feelings about isolated events.  But, if you take a moment to breathe and remember the hard work and positive events/people that allowed you to achieve your goals, you can control your thoughts.  To make any sound and clear decision about anything, you have to think about the pros and the cons.  You should be honest with yourself about the entire situation.  What do you like?  What can you not accept?  How are you treated?  How do you treat others?  What makes you happy?  What can be improved upon?  Have you given the situation, career, relationship, a real shot, or opportunity for you to be successful?

One of the best ways to do honest reflection and decision-making is to write out a pros and cons list.  Creating an pros and cons list can provide insight and additional details for your decision-making process.  Pros and cons list may improve your understanding of the situation and help you avoid decision-making paralysis.   Not making a decision is just as detrimental as making a bad decision.  Using a simple pros and cons list encourages you to approach your decision objectively without letting your feelings impact your life choices.  

Happy decision making,

Jenice

Resources:

Quantitative Pros and Cons: Weigh up Decisions With a Simple Approach. (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_05.htm

Weighed Pros and Cons Worksheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.decisionskills.com/uploads/5/1/6/0/5160560/worksheet_-_weighted_pros_and_cons.pdf

Weighing the Pros and Cons Worksheet 2. (n.d.). Retrieved 2021, from https://counselinglibrary.org/images/PDF_Documents/CBT_Handouts/Weighing_the_Pros_and_Cons.pdf

Paving it Forward – Pep Talks

There was no doubt that 2020 was a rough year, to say the least. So, instead … I wanted to say the “most.” I wrote Pep Talks the Series to help those new to the workforce, looking for a change or just need a “Pep Talk.”

Pep Talks is an introduction to a new way of interviewing and obtaining a job in today’s competitive market. Pep Talks is all about giving the reader an advantage over their competitors when working toward the goal of gaining more knowledge and understanding. This new job market is all-out unconventional ways of obtaining knowledge while learning employment tactics that work. Pep Talks explains how the new Job market knowledge and understanding how to better improve the chances of being “individually recognized” as a professional are vital. Pep Talks assists with building job confidence and self-­‐‑esteem along with providing detailed examples for the reader to use for interviews. Pep Talks is designed to assist the reader in planning, executing, and managing their own career and potential growth in their field of choice.


Each section has interactive “fill in the blank” areas for guiding the reader with critical thinking examples to assist with brainstorming and “Confidence Boosters” provide the reader with constant motivation for obtaining their “dream career.” Pep Talks serves the newly looking or the job seeker looking to change career paths. Pep Talks provides methods that assist with the career search and provide motivation for future endeavors.

If you would like a eCopy of my book, you can have a copy. That simple. I believe this is my small way of helping those who need a “Pep Talk” at any stage of professionalism you may be at. Here is the truth … you CAN do it. I have had several people, co-workers, peers, and family members give me a much-needed “Pep Talk” and now I want to pave it forward and give YOU, yes YOU – a “Pep Talk” too…because everyone needs a “Pep Talk” sometimes.

Much success and happiness to you,

Jenice aka Dr. Jaye

For more information to get your eCopy, simply contact me at my official website: www.jenicearmstead.com

Forgiveness Friday – Validation

Today’s Forgiveness Friday focuses on “Validation.” There is a constant need for validation in today’s world. We have the tendency to look for validation from friends, family, work and even ourselves. Validation often disguises itself in the form of approval. As children, you may recall the first time you sought out the need for validation. Validation often comes up in conversations with strangers when trying to make a point or decipher information. Many people see validation as a part of life. The real truth is, validation is necessary when it comes to basic human rights. Today the U.S. Supreme Court has finally validated the basic human rights of the LGBTQ community. Today is a day that will go down in history books as a day of validation. All of our love and commitments are now truly equal.

Happy Pride 2015

Dee & Jaye Wedding

Dee & Jaye Wedding Nov 14, 2013