Communication skills are the key to gaining people’s attention, and respect. People communicate with each other using many methods; including writing and verbal communication. One may communicate with one single person, or with the public. Communicating with the public can be done by writing a book, writing a blog post, presenting an idea verbally to a group of people in a room, or even reporting the latest news via a news reporting channel. No matter how the information is communicated; the most important aspect about the information is that it must be true, supported by evidence, and is relevant to the audience. After all, nobody would engage in something that holds no importance or correspondence to them.
Group Members Share Common Interests
Strengthening students’ communication skills is one of the most important aspects in ENGL119, an English course offered at the University of Waterloo. Midway through the semester, students are asked to pick a topic that interests them from a list of topics provided by their professor. Then, groups form based on a number of people who picked the same topic. Group members then organize their first official meeting in class. When I joined my group, there was no first time awkwardness. Conversation began to flow naturally and instantly because every member started contributing to the discussion by relating to the topic that was chosen by the group. Everybody seemed interested in the topic, and willing to research about it to learn more.
It’s crucial that each member is willing to contribute to the discussion, as a person’s body language as they speak will certainly impact the listener’s perception and focus. Once a person starts talking, the receiver senses whether the speaker is genuine and interested or not. Being genuine eases the atmosphere and encourages collaboration. For a project to be successful, collaboration between group members must be efficient. In other words, every person must put some effort into the project. If one person does all the work; efficiency will not be met. When one person contributes their time, effort, and unique ideas, others are more likely to do the same. After all, being interested and passionate about something is sometimes contagious. When others observe this in an educational way, there’s a chance they will be more attentive and possibly just as interested as the speaker.
Sweet Smell of Success
Being part of a group project in ENGL119 taught me so much about collaboration. I understood the true meaning behind the phrase: “there is no ‘I’ in team.” I learned that one should not be selfish and only care about “his/her” individual performance. To achieve organizational success, one should care about others’ potential, and what others need to improve on. Satisfaction comes from seeing that everything surrounding you is being represented as professionally and precise as you would want to be represented. A single flower has a sweet fragrance, but the aroma of a bouquet of flowers is of course more pleasing. Collaboration takes a lot of patience and understanding of others. I learned that you need to pardon people for their shortcomings, and that you should try to see your own mistakes if others point them out without being offended. I learned that listening to others is very important. It reassures them that you are interested in what they have to say and offer, which opens doors for more useful information. Collaboration taught me that everybody benefits when you teach others and learn from them. It taught me that this is how you grow as a person.
Observing Other Groups
People learn through their own experiences, and through observing others. The objective of the group work project was to prepare a TED Talk regarding a specific topic, and then present it to the class. Attending the presentations of other groups was very entertaining to me. I compared my group’s performance to that of others. I noticed that I engaged more in presentations that used new terminology that was elaborated upon through the presentation. Presentations that were flowing more smoothly and connected different parts of the presentation were more satisfying to listen to and easier to retain information from. In addition, I noticed that speakers who were calm, collected, and confident gained my attention with their professionalism. Indeed, these individuals presented information that was new to me, and I would not have been impressed if it was not for the supporting facts that accompanied with the information that they were presenting.
Learning is a journey, and an ongoing process. I realized that I learn best when I present information and receive feedback, and when I receive information and give feedback. It is great to communicate with people.