We have all been communicating since we were toddlers, what more can we possibly learn about communication after forty plus years of practical experience? A lot! One of the core courses required for an adult college degree is a Communication class. I decided to take the Small Group Communication course which was being offered as one of the weekend college classes at Granite State College during the summer semester of my freshman year. My plan was to get all of my core classes out of the way as soon as possible so that I could concentrate on the business and elective classes I was actually passionate about. I had no idea communication would become one of my passions. I had been running PTO meetings during the previous academic year for my daughter’s charter high school. I thought I was doing fine as the facilitator of these meetings but after taking the small group communications class at GSC I realized I had been less than effective in this role. When our PTO meetings resumed in the fall I utilized the use of “ice breakers” to help create a sense of comfort, ease and familiarity between the group members. I was also able to identify and draw out participation from the members that were less than enthusiastic in playing an active role in the group. Through my learning and understanding of the group dynamics of our PTO I was able to become a more effective leader in this group and therefore elicit more active participation and positive results from our meetings.
After I found the real life advantages achieved through the knowledge attained from my first communication course I immediately decided to take another as an elective in my adult college program. The next available Concord NH Classes offered included Presentational Communication. I had hoped to gain the knowledge and expertise to adequately present power point reports in my other adult college classes. Much to my surprise the course was really more about public speaking without the aid of visual presentations but instead being able to simply speak to an audience without the distraction of any other medium. This course made me the most uncomfortable of any course I took over my undergraduate career but I gained the most useful knowledge, experience and confidence than I did any other class. Since completing this course I have spoken at press conferences, to the House of Representatives, to the University New Hampshire System Board of Trustees and to the audience of the GSC 2010 commencement ceremony.
The next and most relevant communication course I enrolled in at GSC was Interpersonal Communications. In this class I learned about many aspects of communication which I was not currently utilizing in my daily interactions with others. I learned how to identify and communicate with different personality types. I learned how my own personal communication style was perceived by others. Most importantly, I learned how to LISTEN, not just hear what others were communicating to me. During the difficult years of trying to communicate with my teenage daughters I had read numerous books and attended countless workshops to assist me in this impossible task. It was not until this Granite State College communication course that I actually understood what the authors and social workers were trying to explain to me during those years. This was a huge breakthrough in my life, both personally and professionally. I now understand how to “hear” what others are trying to tell me and how to assure that others “hear” what I am saying. My relationships, learning and daily life have all been enhanced by this new-found understanding of effective communication and its positive effect on my life.
The most profound lesson I learned from my Communications Professor, Dr. Stenho, is that I am lifelong learner. I knew I would learn about new business strategies and concepts, I had hoped to learn to become a better writer and understand the science behind today’s environmental crisis by attending adult college courses but I never thought I would learn anything new or useful about communication. The knowledge and experience I have attained from the numerous communication classes I took at GSC has prompted me to attain my MBA in Organizational Communication. The lack of an effective communication channel by many of my past employers has always been a concern of mine and I now believe I can make a difference in this respect at any organization I may become involved with.
Are you a lifelong learner? Do you enjoy attaining knowledge which enriches both your professional and personal life? If so, stop hesitating and contact an academic advisor at Granite State College today. This is the first step in the rest of your life. After all, it is your turn!