Colin Walsh/ Class 6: Communication Skills

by Colin Walsh

151. Describe situations you can recall when inadequate communication skills led to decreased opportunities in your life.

Communication is essential to life. Even mutes and the deaf need some way to communicate. The word communicate comes from two word parts: Comm, which means to join or share, and uni with is one. So I believe that communication literally means to join as one. Communication is essential in a interdependent world. To illustrate this I have explicit examples to show situations where the absence of communication weakened people’s opportunities.

Communication is essential in any relationship; especially intimate ones. The divorce rate could be cut in half if couples would communicate more effectively. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of cases where spouses and partners are mad at each other, but neither of them really know why. there are even more cases where partners or spouses know superficially what is wrong, but they don’t know exactly what the problem is. This lack of communication can cause many to split when they never had to separate. I believe that 99..9% of problems can be solved through mutual discussion. Communication clears the air and allows for mutual understanding. Communication is the key to a successful relationship.

Another example is a personal anecdote. About four years ago, I was at the beach, at a small restaurant. It was about 110 degrees, and I was standing in a line, waiting for about 20 minutes. The young girl at the counter was obviously from a foreign country, and she has a strong European accent. It was very hard to understand her. The line was barely moving. This was because she had trouble understanding the customers, and the customers had trouble understanding her. Many people in the line noticed this dilemma, and left the restaurant without ordering. The company was losing a lot of business over this. I remained patient, and stayed in line. I finally got to the front of the line. There was a Hispanic man in front of me ordering. He didn’t speak much English. I heard him at the counter with his strong Spanish accent, and his broken English. He could only speak in short phrases. He tried to order a hamburger. The girl and the counter with her accent, told him that she couldn’t understand him.  But he didn’t understand her. Then she kept yelling, saying that she didn’t understand him. This went on for some time, before they were both yelling at each other, in languages neither of them could understand. Then the man finally walked away without ordering. This was a total communication night mare. This story illustrates that this lack of the simplest form of communication greatly hindered all parties involved. The woman may have lost her job, and the man couldn’t even order food..

One final story is pertaining to my arrest. The event that caused my arrest, was all cause by a lack of communication. Simply because the victim spoke a language that was foreign to us all, and neither of us could understand each other. The fight began because someone said something to the victim, which he couldn’t have understood, but he must have felt threatened. So then he retorted something in Spanish. He could have said, ” I am sorry to offend you, I am leaving now” But out of ignorance my friends and I interpreted this as threatening also. Then he yelled at us in Spanish, we yelled at him in English. Looking back I realize how stupid it was, because none of us understood each other. This incoherent bickering escalated into to a fight, that led to this man’s accidental death, which led to my arrest. This entire event was clearly a misunderstanding, and I firmly believe that it could have been averted if we all would have communicated with each other. The complete absence of communication caused these terrible effects.

These illustrations completely elucidate the importance of communication. The world would be such a better place if everyone was able to communicator with each other.

152. Describe situations where stronger communication skills may have enhanced your prospects for success.

The latter of the two previous examples, is the greatest example of how stronger communication skills, would have not only enhanced my prospects for success, but would have eliminated my great failure. If I would have been able to communicate more competently, the entire situation would have been averted.

The night that I was arrested, I never wanted to be arrested. I was just a stupid, drunk, 17 year old kid. I was with other stupid, drunk, kids. My biggest fear that night was getting arrested and charged with underage drinking. The last thing that I wanted to do was get into a fight on the corner of a populated street. But I obviously wasn’t able to communicate that to either my friends nor the victim. If I was a more adroit communicator, I could have been able to persuaded my friends to walk away, or I could have persuaded the victim that we didn’t want any trouble. Instead, I was unable to communicate any of this and and fight ensued, which led to my arrest.

This one situation changed my life for the worst. This is why I know the real value of communication. It is extremely important. Without it life would seize to exist. In my own life, increased communication skills would have prevented me from ever being arrested, and I know that they will help me in the future.

153. What do communication skills mean to you?

Since communication is the portrayal of one’s thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and opinions; communication skills are the skills in doing these things. There are three distinct ways to communicate: Writing, speaking, and body language. These three aspects construct communication skills.

As proven in the previous two responses; competent communication skills are essential to life . Building these skills will greatly enhance one’s chance for success.

154. In what types of ways can improving communication skills assuage the burden of confinement?

A prisoner can ease the burden that prison places on them. The most important way is through building communication skills. A previous anecdote that I used was a story told by Dale Carnegie. The story is about a dowdy, slovenly kept man who walks into a bank and walks out with a job. The reason that he received the job was because he was an incredible communicator. I think that the story can be parallel with someone being released from prison.

Effective communication skills can completely erase the black mark that prison places on a prisoner’s character.  I know this because I have used this while awaiting sentencing. In this time, I have gained many people’s trust. I expunged myself in many people’s eyes. Even with a felony and awaiting a four year prison sentence, I used effective communication to build and foster relationships. I expect that if I can do this anyone else can too.

When I person is released from prison. They leave with a target on their back. In the eyes of society, a felon is considered a reprobate, and should be eschewed. If a prisoner isn’t able to prove that society is wrong; they must accept this fate and carry the target. The only way to prove society wrong is through communication. Effective communication can remove this target. Someone can be the best person in the world, but if no one knows about it, it doesn’t make a difference. One must communicate and convey themselves to society.

Like the man in Dale Carnegie’s story, a prisoner can use their communication skills to remove prejudices and ultimately be successful.

155. What types of influence do communication skills have on an individual’s prospects for success upon release?

There is a theory that people are judged in three ways: How they look; how they speak; and how they act. I believe that above all else, we are all judged predominantly by the way that we speak. Therefore communication is not only influential but essential for success.

Communication is a powerful persuader, and influencer. Take for example the presidential election. The president seems to communicate more during an election year than the other three years in office combined. Likewise the other candidates, which no one has ever previously heard of, suddenly become salient. Each candidate gives speeches, written by profession speech writers, masters of rhetoric. The candidates use these speeches to communicate that information to the country. They spend most of their time and speeches refuting prejudices, past mistakes, along with their views, beliefs and opinions. Why all of the communication? Because they are trying to influence the country to elect them. No person was ever elected by being silent. Communication is the ultimate form of influence.

Likewise in a prisoners life, communication must be used as a tool of influence. As a felon and an ex-prisoner, I know that I am going to have a lot of prejudice to overcome. If I just sit back and remain quiet, people will just assume and stereotype me. I know that I need to use communication to influence future: employers, creditors, landlords, banks, friends, and virtually everyone and anyone else. I need to use communication to prove my disparity from the stereotype.

It is a fact that people are judged based on how they speak and what they say. It is also true that communication is the ultimate form of influence. Therefore I know that effective communication can be used to overcome prejudices and influence my success.

156. How can developing communication skills open opportunities through imprisonment?

Developing communication skills is essential in any situation. A lack of these skills instantly reduces one’s opportunities in anything. As we build these skills, opportunities automatically open.

Many doors can open with effective communication. When we get down to the deepest level of existence, I realize that everything ever acquired in my life was acquired through communication. When I was a baby I cried for food, that is communication. As I grew I learned everything that I know from communication. As I continued to grow and learned how to communicate more effectively my gains increased. As a baby I communicated for food, then in elementary school I communicated for friends, as a teen I communicated for girlfriends, and as I turn into an adult my gains will grow: spouses, houses, cars, money, jobs, and every possible achievement is earned through communication.

This proves that as our communication skills increase, so do our opportunities. The same applies for prisoners. As with any skill, skills and opportunities grow laterally. The greater our communication skill the great our opportunities, and the opportunities are infinite and innumerable.

157. In what ways can an individual take clearly-defined, measurable steps toward improving communication skills?

There are many ways to practice communication. Like any skill, one must first learn the theory, then put the theory into practice. It is no different with communication. There are three different types of communication. Verbal, written, and non verbal. Building skills in these three areas will ultimately build one’s level of communication.

The theory of communication is summed up in the psychology of human relations. There are thousands of books, textbooks, and articles written on this topic. One of the masters of human relations is Dale Carnegie. Carnegie sold hundreds of millions of his most famous book “how to win friends and influence people.” This book and many others teach the theory of communication. Reading these books and learning the theory is the first step to mastering the skill.

As a general contractor would require many tools to do his job, an effective communicator also needs tools for his trade. The tools of an orator are his words. Building a strong and copious vocabulary is an integral part of being a communicator. This is important because it is very difficult to express oneself as clearly as possible without a vocabulary. The English language is one of the most complex languages. For one word, there is a list of synonyms that are alike but slightly different. For example what is the difference between the words: copious, panoply, multifarious, plentiful, plethora, cornucopia. They all have similar meaning but have slight nuances between them. Learning as many words as possible and being able to use the words correctly is certain to build the skills of a communicator. Many times the difference between a good contractor and a great contractor, is the types of tools he has. Same holds true for a communicator.

Once a person has learned the theory of effective communication, and they have acquired the necessary tools; the only thing left to perfect the skill is practice. A person must practice every aspect of communication: verbal, nonverbal, and written. One can easily practice these skills with very little resources. A person must use the theory that they have learned every day. Something as simple as talking with other people will build communication skills. Building written Communication skills is simple also, one just has to write and write often. Non-verbal communication is more difficult though. Many people are completely oblivious to the quirks and idiosyncrasies they do. Something as simple as not looking someone in the eyes, rolling their eyes, crossing their arms, biting their nails, or table manner and other edicit . Simply smiling, scowling or frowning says more than any one word. Mastering this nonverbal communication takes much more conscious effort. Because changing these small habits are usually difficult. But working at correcting these quirks are essential to effective communication.

There are hundreds of individual ways that one can build communication skills. There are whole books written on the topic. But the best way that I consider are through: reading, writing, speaking, and mastering the English language. In other words learning the theory and practicing it. Doing this will significantly build one’s skills in anything especially communication.

158. In what ways have you taken measurable, deliberate steps to improve your communication skills?

I have taken all of the steps expressed in the previous response. I believe that these steps are essential to building communication skills.

I practice communication skills daily. I read various books on human relations, including all of Dale Carnegie’s books. Reading all of these books provides me with many effective communication techniques, and theories. Learning and using these techniques in turn improves my communication skills.

Along with reading, I have acquired many “tools” for communication. These tools are vocabulary words. Over the last year I have learned over 1000 new words that I didn’t know previously. As a mason uses a trowel; I will use these words as tools to be an effective communicator.

Reading books and learning words is a great start for me, but no one ever became great at anything without actual practice. Therefore I put what I have learned into practice every chance that I get. Just by simply writing daily I build communication skills. I also communicate with a select few people in prison and many others outside. This daily practice builds my skills.

I try to practice what I preach. It is not enough to just talk about doing something. I believe that communication skills are imperative to success. Therefore I do everything that I can to improve these skills.

159. What value do enhanced communication skills offer to a prospective employer?

An employee that is unable to communicate is basically worthless to an employer. This is because an employee that cannot communicate is a dime a dozen and dispensable. On the other side of the same coin, and employee that possess strong and effective communication skills can be invaluable to an employer.

Communication skills aren’t easy to come by, so one who does possess them is automatically more valuable than one who doesn’t. As a person climbs the employment ladder; communication skills become increasingly important.

For example, in an manufacturing operation. A person who is on the assembly line needs little to no communication skills. But the shift supervisor does, in order to lead the shift. And the building manager will need more, all the way up to the CEO, who will need incredible communication skill. A higher level of communication skill is required the higher the position.

Employers need communicators in these advanced positions for two reasons. One because the positions are leadership positions. Leaders require these skills. One cannot be a leader if they cannot communicate. The second reason is because people in these positions are highly visible and are representatives of the company. Any company is cautious of their image. They don’t want someone who cannot speak in a visible position.. That would project weakness. Protecting the integrity of the company’s image is imperative to any company. Therefore employers must place effective communicators in these positions. Anything less than great could be the demise of the biggest most powerful company.

Communication skills are invaluable to any employer. I believe that any employer would love to hire someone with enhanced communication skills, over someone who did not. This is because these skills provide an employer with multiple benefits.

160. How can a prisoner convey the extent of his communication skills and his personal investment to improve such skills?

In order to convey to anyone any skill, one must prove that they possess the skill. It isn’t enough to simply tell someone. One must show it.

People rarely take someone’s word for anything. For example: if someone wanted to renovate their kitchen, and they were looking for the best, most skilled person, to do the job. the person wouldn’t just ask a contractor if they were the best. This person would want proof that they were the best. They would want to see previous work. Only then could they decide who is the best.

The same applies with any skill, including communication. One must prove beyond words that they possess this skill.

One can prove this through the way that they write. Letter, emails, any form of written communication says a lot about a persons ability to communicate. One using incorrect grammar, and misspellings shows that they lack these skills. Also using acronyms as shortcut, such as brb or lol or gtg are signs that someone lacks sophistication and communication skills. If one wants to prove that they are an effective communication they must use correct grammar, spelling and must refrain from using acronyms.

Another way that a prisoner can prove their skill of communication is through activities such a the Straight-A-Guide. Each one of the responses that I answer is a chunk of proof that I generate. One who is not a effective communicator would not be able to answer these responses. Answering them and sharing them with the public proves to whomever that I am an becoming an effective communicator.

One final method of proof is the most obvious. What is a better way of proving something than by just doing it? I think that the best way to prove that you can communicate is by communicating, and doing it often. By simply flaunting the skill and touting it well shows, without a doubt, that one possess the skill.

The only way to prove a skill is through practicing it every day. It is not enough to simply talk about it. Proof only comes through action. Words are just words, only action possesses true meaning.

161. How does the prison experience influence an individual’s development of communication skills?

In my opinion, prison is detrimental to a prisoners communication skills. In prison there is a discrete jargon. This language is derived from a love level, low class, slang. Hearing this slang, all day every day, can be very acrid to one’s development of communication skills.

The majority of prisoners speak much slang. This slang is full of grammatical errors, and pronunciation errors along with profanity. If a prisoner is not cautious, and conscious of this slang, they will fall victim to inherently using it. Being in prison is like being in another country that speaks a foreign language. If a person spends enough time in this country they will end up incidentally speaking the language. In prison, after hearing certain types of trite cliches, and errors repeatedly  a prisoner accepts these errors and uses them. This has a negative impact on a prisoners development of communication skills.

Prison can be a great detriment to a prisoner’s communication skills. If a prisoner is not careful they can entirely lose this skill in prison.

162. In what ways do developing communicating skills resemble the development of physical fitness?

I believe that building any skill can be related to building physical fitness. Building physical fitness requires daily action and a detailed plan. Likewise building communication skills requires the same.

Building physical fitness requires daily action, and discipline. One must work at least three to four days per week in order to build a level of fitness. once a certain level of fitness is reached, one must still work the same amount to maintain this level. It could takes months or years to reach a certain lever of physical fitness and it can be lost in half of the time. Physical fitness requires constant attention.

Building physical fitness also requires a plan, and specificity. With out a plan one is more likely to become errant and not reach their goal. Also this plan needs to be specific. Without it one will never reach their goals because they will not know that they are working at. For example: on wouldn’t train their biceps to strengthen their quadriceps. A detailed plan and specificity are required. Likewise, Building communication skills require those two identical aspects.

Building physical fitness is a skill, so is building communication. Therefore, the principles to develop them are the same.

163. What does it mean to read with a purpose?

Reading with a purpose means reading with an end in mind. It means reading in an attempt to reach some type of goal. It means much more than just passively turning pages, on the way to the end of a story. In order to read with a purpose, each page should be turned with a purpose, evincing a little more with every turn, in the search of an ultimate goal.

Reading with a purpose begins with the selection of a book. In order to read with a purpose, one bust select a book with the same purpose in mind. It is not enough to read a book because it was seen in a magazine, or someone recommended it. One must select a book with the end of the book in mind. Personally, I select books based upon what I can learn from them. If I can’t learn something from a book, why should I waste a week reading it. I can spend that time reading something that has retainable value. Reading with a purpose requires selecting a book with a purpose.

Once a book is selected with a purpose, it is important to read every page with the purpose in mind. I always start reading a book with a series of questions. Then with every turn of ever page, I begin to uncover the answers. I also read with a highlighter, pen and paper. When I find an answer to a question or something else that I learned I highlight it and write it down. Then following each chapter I go back and read all of the highlighted parts, and at the end of the book I re-read all of the highlighting throughout the entire book. Simply doing this turns passive reading into active reading.

Reading with a purpose is like doing anything with a purpose. One must set a goal and work to achieve it. It isn’t just reading a book to get through it, but reading a book in an attempt to achieve a goal. Personally, I read to learn. Therefore I read every book for that purpose.

164. Describe the pattern of books you have read throughout your term in prison. What kind are they and why do you read them?

I keep a meticulous record of all of the books that I read. Looking over this record I have read 36 books–not including textbooks and workbooks–in one year. Each of these books was chosen and read with a purpose.

The majority of the books that I have read are non fiction. There are also four types of non fiction. Exposes, Biographies, Autobiographies’, and self help books.

The two expose books that I have read, were about the two biggest business scandals in the country: Enron, and ADM. Reading about these financial  scandals, taught me how to avoid pitfalls. They also taught be about business ethics.

I’ve also read many Biographies and autobiographies including: Michael Santos’; Steve Jobs’; Gordon G Liddy’s; Nelson Mandela’s; Marcus Aurelius. Reading these books gave me the perspective of these great people. Having this perspective Can help me emulate some of their traits. The traits that proved to be successful.

The majority of all of my reading is self-help books. 20 or of the 36 I would classify as self help. I’ve read the entire Dale Carnegie series; 7 habits of highly effective people; The One Minute Manager; The world is Flat; And many others. These books all deal with different aspects of life. I couldn’t list everything that I have learned from these books. There is way to much. These types of books are the most beneficial to me.

Along with these types of self-help books. I also read spiritual self help books. These books Deal with spiritual growth and development. They help me better understand my God, and my religion. The biggest spiritual book that I have read is the Bible. I have read it cover to cover once and expect to read it in full two more times. The Bible has taught me more about life than all other books combined.

The last type of books that makes up the minority are fiction. I don’t read much fiction because I believe that it is mostly frivolous, and trifling. But I don’t read fiction simply for entertainment purposes. I read it for these three distinct reasons. One because many fiction stories posses a deep moral, or meaning. There is much to be learned from good fiction. The greatest that many people are taught are through fiction. For example the boy who cried wolf id fiction, or any of Jesus’ parables are all fictitious. Another reason that I read fiction is because as an aspiring author, I like to study the craft and styles of other great writers. Like an aspiring athlete will study the moves of their favorite professional, I study the famous authors to study their moves. The final reason is the most important. I read fiction because I feel that the strongest form of communication is telling stories. And the ability to do so is very powerful. One who can tell a story and relate to things, is a much more powerful and influential communicator. Telling a story entails a lot. Even telling a true story isn’t easy. It requires the skills of a great author. One must develop the character, develop the scene, the plot, describe everything is great detail, then the ascending action, the climax, and finally the descending action, or conclusion. I feel that any communicator requires this skill.

The fiction that I do read is by famous authors. Authors that have stood the test of time. Such as Hemmingway, Camus, Ayn Rand, Orwell, Golding, and a few others. These authors are considered the best of their trade. Through their stories, they have a lot to teach.

In each of the 10,000+ pages that I have read thus far, I have learned much about many things. Each page was read with a purpose. At the end of each book that purpose was achieved.

165. In what ways do books you read prepare you for success upon release?

All of the various books that I read help me in some way toward future success. That is the main premise as to why I read them. Therefore the reasons why I read each book –expressed in the previous response– are the same reasons that help me prepare for success.

166. When you consider the amount of free time available to you on a typical day, how do you determine the most effective ways to use it toward preparations for success?

When I first came to prison, I assessed the amount of free time that I have in one day. I figured since I spend eight hours sleeping. Then I have 16 hours of free time. From this I sought to fill each one of these hours with some useful activity.

First I began to think of goals that I wanted to attain; things that I wanted to achieve. Then I determined how much time each of these goals would take to achieve. Then with each goal, I allotted an amount of time to work on these goals. I allotted two hours for.

Spanish, an hour for vocabulary, two hours for reading, four hours for school, three hours for writing responses, two hours for math, an hour for exercising. As I kept listing the things that I wanted to accomplish , I realized that I didn’t have any free time left. Now I have my schedule perfected down to the last minute. Each of the 16 hours is filled with something productive to do.

By simply finding what I wanted to do, then finding out how much time it took to do it, eventually created a schedule and filled all of my free time. Doing this ultimately created the most efficient and most effective schedule possible.

167. In what ways do you work to improve your dexterity with language, using words, sentences, and paragraphs to communicate ideas?

Every day I do some things to improve my communication skills.

The main way that I practice is by answering the Straight-A-guide responses. By answering these, I am able to use word skills and techniques that I have learned. I am also able to use critical thinking, and analytical skills, which are essential in communication. In other words I am able to practice what I have learned.

Also, I learn ten new words daily. By learning new words everyday I am increasing my vocabulary exponentially. Therefore I am able to be more direct and clear in my diction.

One other way is through writing letters and e-mails. Writing to various people helps me to better communicate through writing.

The final way is by simply talking with people. By speaking, I am able to work on my pronunciation and diction. Practicing these things helps improve my communication.

Everyday I try to improve my communication skills. I do this by simply practicing everything that I have learned everyday.

168. How would you describe the argot of the imprisoned class?

The distinct argot of prison is unlike any other. It is composed of trite phrases and slang. These phrases are littered with profanity and defies multiple laws of proper English grammar. I would gauge that this language is below the lowest class of society.

This argot is mainly composed of banal, hackneyed, cliches. Most of these cliches are derivatives from some sort of terrible influence. Whether the influence is rap music, country music, rock music, or any other influence, the language that is created is also terrible.

This language is basically meaningless. How can someone have a meaningful conversation with phrases such as: :”What’s good witcha’ or You good?; That’s crazy” Even the most commonly used phrase “what’s up” is meaningless. Also in prison everyone goes by some nickname. Everyone is either, player, brother, bro, bo, dude, fam, or homeboy. And the name that they call themselves is a nickname also. In this prison alone, there are at least ten guys named “E” and at least five of every other letter of the alphabet. The point is, is that everything is watered down to the point of no meaning or sophistication.

Along with being trite, and meaningless. The language in prison is riddled with malapropisms, mispronunciations, syntax, and grammatical errors. In prison the suffix “ing” is reduced simply to “in” As in doin’ comin’ goin’ or Bein’. Also it is not uncommon to hear such grammatical errors such as: I seen something or me and him seen something. Another aspect of this jargon is the use of nonexistent words such as: seent, killted, axted, for seen, killed, and asked. The prison language is littered with many errors and simple things such as double negatives and other errors. All of these errors further reduce the strength of the language.

The final and most influential aspect that ruins the language is the excessive use of profanity. Almost every sentence is laced with a curse. Many use the “F” word as every part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, etc. In a desperate attempt to enhance their language, the over use of profanity reduces the level of communication below any level existing in society.

When I first came to prison, I swear that I couldn’t understand my cell-mate– a prisoner of 13 years. Granted he had a strong southern draw, but his accent could have been Japanese because the language itself was totally incomprehensible. This proved to me that a different language did exist.

The prison argot is a language of its own. It is essential a culmination of slang from across America. Everyone from different parts of the country and from other countries, bring something to add to the language. Although this language is diversely created it is a very distinct and low level language. It is far from proper English and a prison would be prudent to refrain from using it at all costs.

169. In what ways does the jargon of imprisonment compare of contrast with the language in the society you expect to encounter upon release?

In comparison, The language that I expect to encounter in society is a complete contrast to the language of prison. In my opinion even the lowest class of society is a step above the worst class of prison language. Since I don’t expect to associate with the lowest class of society I assume that the contrast will be even greater.

I expect the contrast to be similar to the contrast of apples and oranges. The only similarity that exists, is that they are both fruits. Just as the languages are both derivatives of English.

I don’t expect to ever lower my standard of speaking. Not now nor when I am released. Therefore the language that I will use in comparison to prison jargon, is a complete contrast.

170. What does an individual speaker’s enunciation convey to his listeners?

A persons level of enunciation evinces a lot about that person. Enunciation or lack there of is a tell tale sign of education, sophistication, and class. People with excellent articulation are immediately assumed to be smarter, more sophisticated, and belonging to a higher class. Likewise people who lack the skill of articulation are assumed to be the opposite.

Many aspects are involved with diction. Vocabulary, syntax, grammar, pronunciation, and inflection are all involved. Mastering these elements takes time and effort, which shows others that the time was taken to develop these skills. Therefore, revealing a level of education. Also when people hear excellent articulation they immediately relate them to someone who also has a great level of sophistication and class. It is like the chirp of a bird. Every bird has a distinct chirp. If someone heard a “quack” they automatically know that it is a duck.

It is a fact that enunciation evinces a lot about a person. It is a reality that everyone is judgmental on some level. The majority of people judge based on how someone speaks. Therefore, the level of diction conveys to anyone one’s level of education, sophistication, or class.

171. In what ways do an individual’s grooming habits or manner of dress communicate his values?

Communication goes far beyond words. People sometimes say more by not saying anything. This is why personal grooming and overall appearance are very important.

A person is judged by more than what they say. They are usually judged before they even utter a word. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and pictures don’t say a thing.

When I think about it now there are many things that can be told about someone just by what they are wearing, and how they look. If a person is wearing a T-shirt, shorts, running shoes, and they are sweaty and their hair is messy. I could easily and accurately assume that this person was just working out. Likewise if I see a person wearing a suit, nicely dressed, with their hair combed and kept. I would assume that this person just came from work. Also if I saw a person with dirty jeans, boots, and they were dirts. I wold also assume that this person came from work. Futhermore, I can assume that they first person is a disciplined, and conscious of their appearance and health. The second person, I would assume that they are a “white collar” worker. Maybe a stock broker, or a lawyer. I would assume that this person is successful, and educated. For the third person I would assume that this person is a “blue collar” worker. I wold assume that he is good with his hands, hardworking and works hard for his money.

I could be completely wrong about each of these people, but these are the inevitable assumptions that anyone would assume. Not only can a person make a good assumption about where the person was, they can also easily assume their values.

Some statictics say that a first impression is mad within the first seven seconds. That alone tells a lot. It shows that the majority of judgment is passed upon how someone looks alone.

172. To what extent does documenting a prison journey communicate an individual’s commitment to success upon release?

Documentation of anything offers proof that something happened. The entire subject of history is based on someone’s documentation, and someone perception. Without documentation, history woulf not exist. I believe that for a prisoner it is the same. Documentation offers proof and tangible evidence, that a prisoner can use in their future.

If I didn’t document what I did here; it is more that likely that everyone would assume that I was sitting around doing nothing. That is the general assumption of society. My constant documentation offers more evidence to refute this assumption. Likewise, anyone can use this type of documentation to communicate this point.

I believe that the documentation that I provide proves a lot about me. It ultimately proved that I am disciplined and devoted to my future success.

Providing documentation of my prison journey, provides evidence and clearly communicates my dedication to success.

One of the exercises Michael embraced to develop his communication strategy included writing book reports. In Earning Freedom, he wrote that books opened opportunities that contributed in meaningful, measurable ways to prepare him for triumph over the obstacles he expected to encounter. Each book had a purpose, and to stay on course, he used the following format to write his book reports:

  • How I came across the book (title of book):
  • Why I choose to read (title of book):
  • What I learned from (title of book):
  • Ways in which (title of book) will contribute to my success upon release:

 173. In what ways would writing similar book reports contribute to the development of your communication skills and preparations for success upon release?

Writing book reports makes reading with a purpose possible. When a person writes book reports they are forced to read with the end in mind They are forced to retrieve the information that they have just read. Recalling the the information then ossifies the information to memory. Along with recalling the material read, book reports provide proof that the book was read.

There is a study method that is named SQ3R method. This method is supposed to be the most effective way to study. Writing book reports forces a person to use the SQ3R method. SQ3R is an acronym that stands for: scan, question, recite, review, retrieve. The initial reading of the book is considered the scanning. The questions are the ones posed by the book report. And answering the questions forces a person to go back and recite, review, and retrieve. If the SQ3R method is truly an effective study technique, and book reports force a person to use it. Then writing book reports is also an effective study technique.

Along with being an effective way to study, writing book reports also provides proof that the book was read. Throughout elementary school and high-school, I was always forced to write many types of books reports, on every book that I read. Otherwise, no one in the class would have read them and the teachers wouldn’t have known the difference. The book reports proved to the teachers that the books were read. The same applies now. I could read 1000 books and not be able to tell one fact about any of them, or I could just say that I read 1000 books. The only way to prove it is through documenting what was learned. One way to do that is through book reports.

Not only are book reports a great way to learn. The provide verifiable proof that a person not only read a book but learned something from it.

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