Phillip Jamison/ Class 6: Communication Skills

by Phillip Jamison

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

Through the daily interaction with people, communication is a basic trait that define and establish the character of a person.  Competent communication is an essential quality that distinguishes an individual amongst others.  The failure to manifest proper communication skills whether during a job interview or on the job can mean the difference between success or failure.  As once a Gunners Mate of the United States Navy.  I conducted hundreds of shooting range operations prior to or during overseas deployments.  I would hold the duties and responsibilities of the Range Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor (SAMI).  Here I’d command soldiers to fire their weapons.  For example: “For your next course of fire you will shoot 2 rounds down range, perform a magazine reload, then shoot 2 more rounds!  Then immediately place your weapon on safety!”  My command and verbal wording had to be clear and comprehensible and to the point.  Once I failed to properly annunciate a command during a live firing exercise.  This resulted in a few troops on the firing-line failing to track what I said, while few others did.  This completely disrupted the sequence of the firing order and training curriculum and order was lost.  Therefore the troops weren’t receiving the proper weapons training due to my inadequate communication skills.  If I obtained competent communication skills, this mishap could have been avoided.

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

When I was a personal trainer trying to market my physical fitness training abilities.  I struggled to gain the cliental required to be a successful trainer.  Other occasions I demonstrated inadequate communication skills were during online sales presentations, while trying to sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaigns to businesses around the U.S. to help their business grow through internet.  With the proper communication skills, I would have had more success on the job.

153. What do communication skills mean to you?

Communication skill is a process of transmitting information or opinions in a competent manner.  Throughout our daily interaction with each other, we exchange ideas or disclose information about our lives as well as engage in conversation to get to know one another.  Communications not only transmitted verbally, it’s also transmitted by gestures, facial aspects or bodily posture.  In addition, it can be exchanged through writing, or signals.  Good communication is essential to a successful individual.  I myself am always working to advance my communication skills, for this trait will distinguish the person I aspire to be.

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

If I can improve my communication skills as a federal prisoner.  This will relieve a lot of my stress and tension throughout my sentencing and beyond my incarceration.  In addition, when I improve these skills, it will help me reach my short/long-term goals in having a successful transition back into the community.  It will also help to keep me out of conflict with others and help to protect my life and health.  Good communication skills will aid me in properly confronting and leveling with an individual during a high risk situation in a more peaceful and assertive manner.  Good communication skills will assist me in reaching out to my outside support network in helping me with various needs to meet my short/long-term goals too.  “When good communication skills are obtained, one can sustain.”

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

Possessing good communication skills will greatly benefit an individuals prospects beyond imprisonment.  By having the ability to connect with outside resources, this will open a number of different avenues for a prisoner.  He can gain the support he needs in order to meet various requirements or obligations for his education or employment goals.  He could also receive financial support along the way as well as individual sponsorships.  Having good communication skills will open the doorway to many more opportunities for a man, however, he must have the fortitude and integrity to walk through it.

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

Developing strong oral and written communication skills will strongly benefit an individuals person growth development during their incarceration as well as building their support net beyond release.  At the same time, this will support them in keeping out of conflict with others or help them negotiate through conflict, which in the end protects their life and health.  I strongly urge all individuals to seek out and discover methods and programs with in the B.O.P./F.B.O.P that will promote their communication skills.

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

An individual must follow a strong course of action on strengthening their communication skills.  There are various self-educated methods that can be followed in promoting their skills such as reading books and magazines.  Not only should this be practiced intellectively, but more over verbally and repetition is vital.  Action must happen again and again.   They also want to look into understanding the proper use of transition subordinators and coordinators (but, however, contrary, etc) as well as avoiding the use of crutch words (um, uh, you know, etc).  With determination, courage and effort any skill can be learned and mastered.

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

I have committed myself to strengthening my verbal and written communication skills throughout my incarceration.  I’ve dedicated myself to the daily use of a dictionary and a thesaurus and make it a point on integrating various words I’ve retained throughout my day.  I’ve also attended and completed a Toastmasters International communications class.  Here I’ve learned the arts of speaking, active listening and thinking – vital skills that promoted self-actualization and enhanced my leadership skills.  This fostered my self-confidence and personal growth.  On top of this all, I continue to educate myself through the Course Straight-A-Guide.  Furthermore, I help tutor other prisoners with in the prison camp on enhancing their communication skills, because the best method of learning, is through teaching.

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

Employers rate strong communication skills at a high, for this illustrates the professionalism and quality of the business. Employers want good communicators who can make decisions and solve problems while working effectively as part of the team. The art of possessing strong communication skills plays a strong factor in the growth of a business. Additionally, strong verbal dexterity and emotional content add more to persuasion. A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation. Having good communication skills grants an individual the ability to convert ideas, move product and complete operations.

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

I convey my communication skills through letter writing, emails, phone contact and transparently via Internet. Through this process, I express my thoughts and feelings regarding circumstances I’m currently going through. This allows individuals to see things more clearly through my introspect empathizing my situation. Other methods I convey my communication skills are through motivational quotes and metaphoric speeches. For this reason, this engages the listens and/or readers mind to see and understand the message I’m delivering more clearly.

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

The prison lifestyle can either make or break a man. The prison environment is heavily populated with individuals who speak irrational whether it‘s slang or cursing. Additionally, there are a vast majority of prisoners who at the drop of a hat will look to challenge an individuals integrity through instrumental aggression. This is why it’s highly benefit to develop strong communication skills. By developing these skills, this can help a prisoner avoid high risk situations high risk situations with other prisons as well as deal with authority figures more assertively. Assertive communication isn’t only about verbal delivery. It also consists of listening, good eye contact and body language.

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

Developing communication skills has a strong relation to physical fitness. Simply for the reason of repetition, practice and commitment. As a prisoner finds and discover new methods on improving their communication skills. He want’s to factor what he has learned into his daily living. Through the process of time, and practice, he will gain stronger verbal dexterity, he’ll gain a stronger attention span, and become a professional sounding individual. A prisoner wants to take advantage of every opportunity to practice their skills so that when important occasions arise, they will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotional effect on others.

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

To read with a purpose means to fully understand and internalize what it is that I’m reading.  Above all, it’s not about how much I read, but what I read.  “Quality over quantity.“  Like eating, what I put into my body can effect my life.  For instance, if I chose to intake a lot of sugars and saturated fats.  This could greatly effect my health, later leading to high cholesterol, obesity or even heart failure. With reading, if I chose to read magazines for simple pleasure or instant gratification.  This may help me meet my short-term goals, however, this will impede me from meeting my long-term goals.  Reading the proper material can greatly benefit my success during imprisonment and beyond the prison.  For this reason, I’ll gain the proper knowledge I need to expand my playing field and be successful.

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

Since the beginning of my incarceration, I have involved myself in reading a variety of different books, with each book serving it’s own purpose.  First and for most, I consistently and persistently read the “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.” This has helped me to gain a stronger relationship with the Lord and gain a stronger connection with the spiritual realm.  The day I accepted God into my life was the day I allowed all of my inner pain and the healing love of God to collide.  Additionally, I’ve read a vast majority of books that have helped me to understand the prison lifestyle as well as how to navigate my way through the prison environment safe and successful.  These books are “Earning Freedom Conquering a 45 Year Prison Sentencing”, “Triumph The Straight-A-Guide, and “My 8,344 Day of Prison.”  Each of these books are authored by Michael G. Santos.  Mr. Santos is proven evidence that the messages within the his books can help other prisoners overcome the adversity of a lengthy prison sentencing.  With this being said, if it worked for him, it can work for many others as well.  I myself was sentenced to spend 30 months in a federal prison where I’m required to serve a mandatory 85% of my sentencing due to federal sentencing guidelines.  What this means is that I’ll have to serve 24 months in prison, only if I abide by the F.B.O.P rules and regulations, which can constitute in earning good time off.  Any disciplinary infraction could lead to loss of good time.  Therefore, I want to maintain a strong bearing by navigating my way through prison only making valued based decisions.

In addition to books I’ve read throughout my prison term.  I’ve read “99 Days and a Get Up” and “Life Without a Crutch”, both written by Ned Rollo.  These books have helped me to identify the possible stressors I could face when transitioning back into the community. Additionally, they’ve taught me how to overcome the struggles of drug addition as well as the after math of incarceration.  Furthermore, I’ve read “7 Principles of Making Marriage Work” by Nan Silver…  The title speaks for itself..  Also “Healing the Shame that Binds You” by John Bradshaw.  This was a book that assisted me in overcoming the gripping trauma of toxic shame that grew within me from a young age, which later followed me into my adulthood.  Healing the Shame That Binds You helped me to identify the struggles within myself that lead to the actions I express, which later resulted in the separation of my family.

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

Every one of the books I have read has supported me in becoming a better father, husband, modeled citizen and a man of moral value.  Whether they pertain to the cultivation of relationships,  communication skills, employment, religion, etc.  The knowledge gained from this reading material will have a strong impact in my personal growth and follow me into community.  I only believe in investing my time in reading material that will benefit my future beyond imprisonment.  I continuously practice and commit myself in following this belief.  For this reason, we are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.– Aristotle

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?

It is important that I prepare for my future, for I have many obstacles to overcome.  How I choose to invest my time during my confinement can dictate the outcome of my transition.  With this in mind, I want to persistently find and create methods on area’s or qualities within myself I can improve.  It is important to properly determine whether or not I want to invest my time in this activity.  I can use the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, or Threat assessment technique.  Through this process I can effectively rationalize my thought, just before making a choice, therefore supporting me in identifying if an activity is beneficial for me.  Will this activity only assist me in meeting my short-term needs or help me to meet my long-term goals? The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.” –George Eliot

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

It would greatly benefit me to continuously work on improving the dexterity, annunciation, and pronunciation on how I communicate with others.  I’ve committed in practicing this throughout my day to day interaction with others, for the prison environment can be used as a microcosm of the outside community.  But a method I’ve involve myself in using while alone is “Reading Out Loud.”  I’ll read a book as if I’m speaking to a room full of people.  This has been an effective tool that has helped me to exercise projection, emotional content and dexterity.  Next to this, I have committed myself in gaining a “Motivational Speaker” certification through Toastmasters International that the prison offers.  Toastmasters has strongly aided me in exercising my ability to speak in front of large groups of people as well as my ability to properly deliver a speech.  In addition, it has helped me to rectify the use of crutch words that are not in contexts with the message I‘m delivering, such as um, uh, so, you know, etc.  Practicing this on a day to day basis will help me to speak with persuasion, confidence, clarity and purpose.

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

At the prison I’m confined to, there are individuals from different walks of life.  Some are well educated and have earned college degrees, some are business owners, while some grew up around gang violence and poverty.  A large percentage of the individuals here typically utilize a type of jargon that can be categorized as a child of immaturity.  They communicate at a low grade level, while using slang and profanity.  They lack the proper dexterity and annunciation of proper communication.

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

The prison jargon would strongly decrease my chances in having a successful transition back into society.  This will stagnant relationships with authority figures, positive peers and employers.  Individuals will perceive me to be a man who lacks proper education as well as values.  The jargon of imprisonment does not compare to the contrast of the language spoken in society.  When an individual possesses strong values and profound speaking skills.  This will distinguish him amongst others within society.

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

As a speaker, proper enunciation can define the level of discipline in my personal growth, development and education.  This can also convey the quality of the values, in which I manifest.  Proper enunciation supports the clarity and delivery of a message I‘m delivering.  This expresses confidence in my statement and confidence in myself.

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

Proper grooming standards can convey my level of discipline and personal pride.  Possessing strong and articulated grooming skills and following professional dress habits communicates strong values within myself.  With that in mind, I want to be properly cleaned and shaved and my business attire must be neatly pressed and unblemished.  The way I gain a positive reputation is to endeavor to be what I desire to appear.

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

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:

 Documenting my daily activities will help me evaluate the progress of my growth  and help me to identify the area’s I need more improvement.  This will also help me to keep track of the methods I’ve used in the past that have aided me in achieving growth.  This will allow me to identify whether or not this method is effective or has rendered to be a hindrance to my growth.  Documenting my actions can also benefit me in building a relationship with my probation officer.  By providing this information to him/her on how I’ve spent my time as a federal prisoner.  This will eliminate the skepticism he will have about me being a fresh prisoner releasing from the prison environment.  I anticipate that he’ll have a positive and guardedly optimistic outlook toward my committed effort in documenting my progress and daily actions.         

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 will display the level of writing skills and communication skills I possess and expresses my literacy, vocabulary and educational development.  By repetitively writing book reports throughout my incarceration – like fitness exercising, this will strengthen my writing skills as well as my communication skills.  This will teach me proper transitional words and enunciation and enhance my creativity skills, while a thesis, body and conclusion.

Phillip Jamison/ Class 7: Support Networks

One Response to “Phillip Jamison/ Class 6: Communication Skills”

  1. Carol Z says:

    Phil: Received nice letter and yes I do follow your blogs-
    I think of you often and keep you in my prayers.

    You are actually I feel a very good writer and so
    it is always interesting to read.
    So happy to finally hear from you and knowing you
    have learned so much that if you think about it would
    take many many years of therapy or life lessons to learn.
    You are a great student of life and you are always expanding. Hang in there – Time goes quickly!

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