James Hunt/ Class 6: Communication Skills

by James Hunt

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

Throughout life without the skills your self confidence can take a hit, such as in school when you do not speak up for fear of being wrong and sounding stupid. Or when you misspoke and brought about the opposite effect of what you intended.

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

I still like to use a lesson I learned from T.I., who said that “when people approach him and he could tune them out within seconds all from the manor in which they attempt to deliver their spiel.” He could tell how the information was given, how it was obtained, and he could tell if they were prepared.

153. What do communication skills mean to you?

It means to be able to transcend barriers, and open doors that would otherwise remain closed. It is the ability to show off your skills, and your vision.

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

It allows you to more easily get across to people, and more quickly. It helps you navigate and stay focused on the task, without rambling or lack of direction. I will not have to revert to emotions taking precedent over intellect or reason. You can share what you are going through without pity, but from a position of strength, reminding others that regardless of what is going on around us, we are improving.

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

The skills help me sell myself, and articulate how valuable I would be to a company. I can relay my ideas with ease.

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

When I reach out to my network, either through email or the phone, I can more easily convey what I am doing, why, and how it will help me upon release.

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

Reading and doing the work to understand what you read, and the context of the words. Constantly developing your skills can be a joy, a process towards improvement.

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

I read with a purpose, learning from others I admire. If I do not know a word I look it up, then use it verbally and or in writing.

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

It allows you to effectively communicate your vision, your skills, and maybe even become a voice for the company.

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

Writing for others to see and to review. Speaking, they will hear you. The more I read the better I speak and the better I think.

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

It hinders your growth in the way of what you constantly hear. The level of communication, the slang terms and meanings, the incomplete sentences and the profanity can stunt your development.

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

By practicing every day your muscles will become stronger and bigger

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

It means you have a vision with each book, a goal to walk away with something that will help you in life. You must read with an objective, a defined goal.

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

Reading has always been my escape, my movie in my mind. It is a pleasure for me. I read self help improvement books, fiction to learn styles as well for entertainment. I love informative books, and business books on the trucking industry. The more I read the better I retain the information.

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

Books like Hurricane Carter, Nathan McCalls Makes me want to Holla, books like Michael’s, Herman Hesse and those types are books that illustrate people who have redeemed themselves from bad decisions, and they have gotten back on track and found a vision. They want to become better, like me. They want to communicate their message better, like me. These books help me prepare.

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?

Every decision I make I ask myself, “How will this help me in the future?”. Then I plan my day.

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

By writing, talking to myself in my head, reading with a plan and purpose. I write letters. When I am done with the 10 classes Justin will send me my work. Then I can review it, makes notes, changes, add to it. Just keep improving.

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

Broken english, slang spoken with no plans to improve.

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

There is no place in the world to speak like the way some do in prison. There is no comparison and I make it a point to talk as if I were in a business meeting. Period.

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

If you use words properly people notice you instantly. People can give a second take when they hear you discuss values, and why you choose those values. They may look at the record, but your ability to use works and sentences changes the narrative. It is a game changer!

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

It says non-verbally how someone feels about himself and what he thinks is important.

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

It shows how he spent his time, the level of commitment he made to bettering his life. It shows execution of planning and purpose. It shows veracity, desire, in spite of our situation. It shows what we once saw and what we see now and what we are thinking, doing and what we are working towards.

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?

It will teach you to explain and examine what you read while at the same time force you to practice on your writing. Later you will be reexamine your reports and chart progress, like my accountability logs help me do. They also make sure I read with a purpose. Justin emailed a quote from the poet Dante who said, “there is no knowledge without retention.”

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