IARc Speaker Series: “Speak to be heard”

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Wednesday, September 26 marked the second installment of the IARc speaker series. One of the most important skills to learn in design school is communication. Without good communication, it is easy to suffer within the professional and academic world. Jason Elkin is a sales manager working in the Eastern North Carolina Kimball office furniture market. He opened up his discussion talking about how important it is for people within the design field to build their communication skills but also to learn how to assess the communication styles of the people they interact with on a daily basis.

Working in groups, the [2nd] year studio has taught a lot of us how hard it is to communicate ideas and feelings to others who come with their own agendas.  Our studio project this semester  designing products to be possibly funded on Kickstarter sounds simple enough…design and fabricate three quality products; however, the wrench was thrown into the works for us when we began designing these three products in a group. Many people have had the unfortunate experience of working in a group that has terrible communication. Lets be real, nine times out of ten, group projects are the most stressful experiences of our academic and professional lives. The primary reason for this stress is because group members don’t know how to communicate effectively (and arguably because of other reasons in which we can all rant about to our besties.)

During Jason Elkin’s lecture he encouraged us individually to assess our own communication styles by taking a quick quiz. At the end of the quiz we were each able to identify our two main styles in which we communicate. There are four basic styes of communication: the relator, the driver, the analyzer, and the expresser. Most people exhibit two of these styles of communication regularly in their daily lives. If we learn the tell tale signs of communication styles we may be able to adapt our communication for individuals who may exhibit different styles of communication.

I was sitting next to one of my group members during this lecture and after the test we both looked at each others communication styles and agreed that part of the reason why our group has done so well communicating is because we each have at least one style in common. Not to say that everything has been perfect, but because of the common ground we have been able to change the way we communicate our ideas to each other based off of a common ground of understanding. This fortunate experience was truly the luck of the draw, because none of us had ever worked together before.

So those of you who may be working in group contexts don’t be discouraged! Communication is something that we all can learn to do better, and the best way to grow our ability to communicate effectively is through practice. We can also learn how to assess the communication styles of our friends, colleagues, and the strangers we encounter, in order to be more effective in expressing our needs appropriately to different people.


Contributed by Joylyn Troyer [2nd] year


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