Take some time to think about challenges you have communicating with other people. These difficulties may involve strangers or acquaintances; consider communication aspects with 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 avoiding participation in meetings even when you have a question or contribution to the discussion.
Complete the steps in the following framework to identify a goal. Using the template for this week, detail each of the steps to explain how you chose this one communication problem area you intend to change.
1A. “I Can’t” List
What are your “I can’t” communication behaviors? Address verbal, nonverbal, listening, group communication aspects, and cultural differences. Click on and read the sample responses for this section first. Then, write and submit the following for this part:
- Make a list of six challenges relating to your interpersonal communication that you feel require attention because you “can’t” seem to do these well.
- Under each “I can’t” identified, describe the behavior in detail for the first paragraph. In the second paragraph, provide an example that illustrates that behavior
- Write a two paragraph response (description then example) for each “I can’t” behavior.
1B. “I Won’t” List
What are your “I won’t” communication behaviors? Once you have 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 that people are physically unable to do. “Won’t” suggests that an element of choice is involved.
Write and submit the following for this part:
- Provide a list of any statements that you were honestly able to revise to say, “I won’t.”
- Provide an explanation for each regarding why it is more accurate to say “I won’t” rather than the original “I can’t” statement.
Eliminate any “I won’t” statements from consideration for this project because the “I won’t” aspect indicates your unwillingness to actually make a change.
1C. “I Don’t Know” List
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 do 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.