I am currently studying to become a speech-language pathologist; therefore, I chose to interview my relative, Camille xxxxxxxx, who has been in my desired field of study for the past two years. Camille graduated from Purdue University with her bachelor’s degree and then went on to earn a master’s degree from Miami University of Ohio. Upon becoming a certified speech-language pathologist, Camille accepted a position at an elementary school in Indianapolis, Indiana. Camille attributes her choice to become a speech-language pathologist to the desire to help others have a higher quality of life. After talking with Camille about the diverse characteristics and duties of her day-to-day job, I have noticed the recurrence of the need for collaborative leadership, interpersonal communication, and the knowledge of how to handle difficult conversations.
The use of these three skills within the professional world is vital. Collaborative leadership encompasses understanding yourself, the individuals around you, and the setting that you often find yourself in (Shankman, Allen, & Haber-Curran, 2015). The better an individual understands their emotions and how they directly influence the actions they take, then it allows them to keep the bigger picture in mind. This further enables you to place yourself in another person’s viewpoint and to visualize how their choices may be derived from their emotions.
Relationships between two people begin to foster as a result.
Interpersonal communication is equally crucial. As a professional, relaying your message to the intended recipient in a clear and concise manner is exceptionally important. Nonverbal communication that you display towards others, whether through body language or facial expression, plays a large role in the interactive process. This becomes apparent when you partake in active listening. During active listening, information is shared, ideas generated, and feelings identified. The fundamental concept of listening to one another is what connects us and allows relationships to flourish (Nichols, 2009).
When these connections begin to evolve further, it is not uncommon to encounter bumps along the road. These conflicts can lead to difficult conversations invoking dread. Knowing how to navigate through the unease or wariness that surrounds these sort of exchanges allows one to approach the topic from a resolution standpoint. While in the midst of a challenging conversation, a key fact to remember is to avoid placing blame upon the other individual involved and strive solely to grasp the meaning behind the actions that took place (Stone, Patton, & Heen, 2010). With the basic knowledge of what each of these features entail, I was able to relate them to the information I gathered during the interview.
As I conversed with Camille about her occupation as a speech-language pathologist, I identified several areas where collaborative leadership came into action. Closely tied to the importance of realizing your own emotions, Camille deemed the ability to validate your beliefs when questioned by others is necessary as a member of the healthcare field (C. Hagedorn, personal communication, October 19, 2016). This benefits you in standing your ground and vouching for your patients. She also stated the need for open-mindedness regarding others and their ideas, as it is unlikely two individuals will always agree. Confidence in your own abilities as a professional is another footstep towards effective leadership. This confidence must be established before leading others to a common goal. When I asked Camille what advice she had to give me regarding collaborative leadership, she said, “always listen, always be honest, even if it isn’t the best news, and always be respectful of others” (personal communication, October 19, 2016). She also emphasized keeping the main focus on the betterment of the cause. A component that works congruently with collaborative leadership within the healthcare field is interpersonal communication.
Camille stressed the significance of maintaining clarity. Any time a breakdown in communication occurs, whether that is between patient and professional or professional and administration, the patient is the one who suffers (personal communication, October 19, 2016). When I asked what tools can help ensure understanding, she described the process she implements with her students. Camille first gives the student a task to complete that will help them in their area of improvement. If the student does not comprehend what is asked of him or her then she moves to the next step, which involves rephrasing the question. If this still does not prove to be coherent for the student she will then incorporate visuals and eventually, hand-over-hand demonstrations until they grasp the concept and perform it independently. In addition to her job as a speech-language pathologist at an elementary school, Camille also works as-needed in a nursing home with stroke victims. This switch in age creates a different dynamic of interpersonal communication styles that she utilizes. In this setting she noted that her active listening skills are more apparent. This includes taking notes of her patients concerns, asking questions to gain comprehension, and empathizing with the individual. Interpersonal communication skills’ vitality becomes evident during difficult conversations.
Conflict can occur in various scenarios, yet, the most predominant one in Camille’s experience has been between fellow colleagues. When conflicting viewpoints arise, many have the first instinct to avoid the confrontation altogether and to push the feelings aside (Stone et al., 2015). However, in a professional setting where others’ lives are involved, this is not a choice. Suitably, her advice on how to manage difficult conversations complemented the lessons learned in class. She mentioned preventing blaming the other individual involved as it does not solve the problem and only amplifies hurt feelings. Her first year of working as a speech-language pathologist in a school was unfortunately filled with conflict between administration members. The principal of the school placed Camille in situations that did not utilize her to the best of her abilities. To find a resolution to the situation at hand, Camille first sought out the principal, but no changes followed and action had not been taken. This then led her to confide in her immediate supervisor with hope that the issue would be solved. Camille states, “my experience of going through that conflict with my boss taught me the importance of standing my ground, as I am the one who is the professional in my field of study, but it also taught me how to approach the scenario in a respectful manner” (personal communication, October 19, 2016).
While our careers are the same, Camille works in a different setting than I plan to. As a result, we will also come across different scenarios. This is why it is important that I apply the knowledge I learned in class and the interview to my future job. The first main point that Camille emphasized was cooperation with those around you. In the hospital setting, as a speech-language pathologist, I will deal with stroke victims, perform diagnostic evaluations, and work with individuals that have a wide range of disabilities. In this situation, I will need to work with other professionals, such as x-ray technicians, nurses, physical or occupational therapists, and audiologists. This largely team-based approach to healthcare will require collaboration. It is vital that I listen to others’ views so then I have an all-encompassing approach when I create a plan of action for my various patients. Working beside fellow professionals provides a great opportunity to teach and learn alongside one another. However, in order to achieve this level of teamwork with my future coworkers, I must first develop adequate interpersonal communication skills.
As a speech-language pathologist in a hospital, the various duties that I will perform often rely on the assistance of others. For example, stroke victims who have lost their ability to swallow thick consistencies, may be limited to a liquid-only diet. It is then absolutely crucial that I effectively communicate this dietary guideline to the nurses who are on that patient’s service. If a breakdown in communication occurs, it can be detrimental to the patient. Similarly, I will also need to use my active listening skills with colleagues and those within my care alike. When I demonstrate the use of summarizing, asking open-ended questions, and empathy, I allow a bond to grow between patient and caregiver. While it is essential that I listen to those I interact with, it is equally as important, as Camille stated, that my voice is heard (personal communication, October 19, 2016). As the professional in my field of expertise, it is my job to ensure I am taking the steps needed to provide exceptional care and that the entire team is on the same page. This assertiveness may lead to difficult conversations.
The best approach to take when an uncomfortable conversation must be initiated is eliminating the act of pointing fingers at one another. In relation to the example of a patient put on strict dietary guidelines, if miscommunication led to an incident that threatened the quality of care given to the individual, it would not be constructive to resort to blame. Deciding where the failure occurred between my coworker and I will require honesty and confrontation of the issue in a mature manner to confirm it does not happen again. In order to do this, I will need to restrain my personal emotions to focus on the most important part – the patient and his or her needs. It will be imperative that I keep myself and my emotions separate from my professional duties as a speech-language pathologist.
After interviewing Camille, it has become evident how often I will incorporate these lessons into my professional career. Regardless of the setting in which a speech-language pathologist works, all of the skills should be reflected in the day-to-day responsibilities and relationships among colleagues. To allow myself, my patients, and my coworkers to prosper collaborative leadership, appropriate interpersonal communication, and knowing the proper way to handle difficult conversations must all be utilized. If any one of these three components is lacking from a working environment, then it will directly influence other areas of work as well. Utilizing these three skills, regardless of within personal relationships or professional ones, is crucial to allow development, success, and prosperity.