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NSE - Interpersonal Communication: Self-Awareness & Self-Monitoring

The following lesson explores select topics in communication. Such topics include the communication process, self-awareness, verbal and nonverbal communication, self-monitoring, and building communication skills.

Self-Awareness

Why Self-Awareness is Important: 5 Benefits of Self-Awareness

Kory Floyd states that "good communicators are aware of their own behaviors and its effects on others" (26). Awareness of your behaviors encompasses an awareness of your verbal and nonverbal communication, as we just learned from the previous section. Let's delve a little deeper into what self-awareness looks like. 

Alain Morin (2011) states, "self-awareness represents the capacity of becoming the object of one’s own attention. In this state one actively identifies, processes, and stores information about the self." This requires us to understand perception, it's origin, and application to our interpersonal relationships.

As we learned, non-spoken communication, including body language, tone, facial expressions, intonation, and use of inflections, can deliver varying meanings to the same sentence. One’s perception (including preconceived notions/biases and previous understanding) dramatically affects how you think, act, speak, and interact with others, which, in turn, affects all facets of life.

It is important to note that it is not just the perception of the listener that is important, but also the speaker; this is where self-awareness becomes a focal point. The conveyor of the information must take into account his/her own perceptions in order to understand how to best convey information to those who are listening or receiving the information. For instance, some personnel may require more information to know how to begin a project, while others may need a more literal guide, such that the perception of the speaker (e.g. a manager) must not get in the way of conveying the information to both personnel in a way that is most effective for both of them.

Understanding that words are abstract products of the mind, and though many often like to think of words as concrete ideas that are completely objective, this is not the case. People identify with different ideas based on their personal background and knowledge, thus, their perception of common ideas/words may differ radically based on experience, culture, mother language, previous jobs, etc.

Improving Your Self-Awareness

Do You Have to Be a Student to Get a Student Credit Card?

Increasing your self-awareness is an ongoing, ever-changing process. Gamble and Gamble offer the following tips to assist you in improving your self-awareness (Communication Works 62). They suggest that you should:

  • Watch yourself in action: This involves continuing to examine yourself and your interactions with others. When you are placed in a new situation or environment, see how you engage in conversations. Continue reflecting on your verbal and nonverbal messages and try to identify patterns of behavior. 
  • Ask how others perceive you: You ask your friends everything else; you might as well ask them how they view you. Others may observe strengths and areas of development in your communication and shed light on things that you did not know. While you are listening to their feedback, know that you do not have to accept it as fact! 
  • Commit to self-growth: Once you've identified an opportunity for growth, capitalize on it. Employ the tools and techniques (which will be the final topic) you have learned and continue evolving into a competent communicator.  

Self-Monitoring

As stated previously, it is important for us to be cognizant of how messages (verbal and non-verbal) affect the other people involved in a conversation. This is referred to as self-monitoring. High self-monitors are individuals that are keenly aware of how their appearance and verbal/nonverbal communication are perceived in a conversation and can adjust their behavior accordingly. On the other hand, low self-monitors are oblivious to people's reactions to their messages. Click the play button below to watch “Active Listening: How to Communicate Effectively” to gain a better idea of how important self-monitoring is when communicating with others. 

Were you able to identify the signs of self-monitoring? If so, how could you tell? Both examples depicted high self-monitors who were able to perceive the discomfort from the other person or within themselves, as well as adjust their verbal and nonverbal messages accordingly. Sometimes, it can be easy to identify the ineffective communication patterns of others, but it can be more challenging to assess your own patterns when you are in the middle of a conversation or interaction. Mastering this skill requires not only an understanding of verbal and nonverbal communication but also tasks us with engaging in self-awareness and actively reading and analyzing social situations and recognizing and acknowledging others' social cues. It also requires us to be comfortable and okay with adapting to the flow of any conversation. 

New Student Tip: Being in college will require you to interact and communicate with a variety of different people (e.g. other students, staff, faculty, administrators) so it is important that we have a solid understanding of our own communication styles, how they can be perceived and potentially impact another person, and be ready to make adjustments when speaking to certain people and in certain environments. Engaging in reflection on your self-awareness, and enhancing your ability to self-monitor, can greatly reduce the likelihood of you miscommunicating with someone, making inappropriate comments/gestures, and/or offending another peer or professor in an academic environment. 

Pause and Reflect

Think about your self-monitoring skills. Would you classify yourself as a high self-monitor or a low self-monitor? To assist in answering this question we will be utilizing the work of psychology researcher Mark Snyder; please take a moment to complete the Self-Monitoring Assessment by clicking here. A new window will open that takes you directly to the assessment. Read the directions closely and proceed with responding to the various prompts. It should take roughly 2-4 minutes to complete. Once you have responded to all of the prompts, press Submit to view your results. To return to this page, simply click back to this tab/screen and answer the question below. 

Are your results from the assessment similar to your self-evaluation?
Yes, they are similar!: 8790 votes (86.36%)
No, they are way off!: 1388 votes (13.64%)
Total Votes: 10178

To proceed to the next topic, click the "Virtual/Post-Pandemic Communication" tab above. 

Gamble, Teri K. and Michael W. Gamble. Interpersonal Communication: Building Connections Together. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 2014. Print.

Gamble, Teri K. and Michael W. Gamble. Communication Works. 10th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. Print.

Floyd, Kory. Interpersonal Communication. 3rd edition. New York: McGraw Hill Education, 2017. Print. 

Morin, A. (2011). Self-Awareness Part 1: Definition, Measures, Effects, Functions, and Antecedents. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5: 807-823.

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