Shawn Piper/ Class 6: Communication Skills

by Shawn-Piper

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

I have always been a pretty good communicator, so other than in personal relationship situations, I’ve always been able to convey the point I was trying to get across.

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

There were a couple of times when I went out to get more contracts for my auto detail business and I fell short.

153. What do communication skills mean to you?

Being able to relate to what another person is trying to say, as well as be open minded and being optimistic about others’ views and feelings. Saying what I want in a way that any and all can understand without sounding or being shallow or on the other hand aggressive.

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

You have many different people from different walks of life and many different walks of life. So if I’m able to communicate to someone that I wouldn’t normally give the time of day, or vice versa, I may be able to open up a door of opportunity for myself or the other person. Just by being a genuine people person with the ability to comprehend things by someone with a different view on life.

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

It’s best to be an extravert, someone that is open and has people skills can read people and it’s easy for others to read them. That is how you can meet the people that are willing to give you a chance or a lift. Your personality and drive are part of your communication skills so now only do you need to have a good vocabulary, but your attitude needs to be right if you want to obtain success.

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

Being able to get your point across to many different people, no matter what background they are from, shows your diversity. The things that you write or act out must be comprehensive to all that you are trying to reach. It will show that you have people skills and aren’t limited to one ethnic background or social class of people.

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

By reading different books. Taking the time to learn words they don’t understand. Possibly flip open the dictionary and study a new word each week. Take Toastmasters, public speaking, or debate class, if one is available. Try just saying hello to a few people you don’t know each day.

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

I read a lot and I’ve taken public speaking, I’m in T.O.A.D., Reflections, substance abuse class, settng the foundation to be co-facilitator. I attend A.A. and I’m always willing to share. I try to speak with all of those I come across daily. I have plenty of writing I must do this book, my ministry and principles to healthy living class as well.

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

It shows that you can convey messages and aren’t afraid to speak or express yourself. You are a listener, because it’s not all about you and your message. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just listen. Then there are times that you must be slow to speak and quick to listen. Being a good communicator is key to company images. I value good communication skills in the category of being a people person, you have to be able to interact well with others to be either.

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

It’s been a while since I’ve been in school and had to do serious writing. So as I said, by doing this book and the other activities of self-improvement that I’m engaging in, as well as my school work. I write a lot and know my writing will only be enhanced as time goes on. I also have to send my portfolio off via email so as to improve my typing skills.

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

Some people shut down and become introverts, not wanting to deal with the reality at hand. Some don’t want to change due to peer pressure or whatever fear they feel or the fear of change itself. In other ways they don’t want to leave their comfort zone. I have learned change is good. I know this is the same mouth that I praise my G-d with, so it shouldn’t have curse words coming out of it. I was coaching kids at the time of my arrest, so I already started to change my language and attitude.

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

You have to start somewhere and then build on it. It takes work and dedication, just as I’m dedicated to get up and be at the work out site each morning at 5:45am. I also set aside time to myself for studies, 2-3 times each day if I’m not in class. It varies on time in the morning, afternoon, but always from about 6-8pm. You must have discipline.

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

Read with an intention to learn something from what you’ve read. Whether it be a new word, tips for life skills, vocabulary broadening, or comprehension. Uping your game to be a better communicator takes time, but is well worth it.

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

The bible continually. Inside, was the first book I read when I was arrested, giving much insight on things to expect in prison. I’ve read James Patterson to get away and change up my usual reading of autobiographies, Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise, Forbes, occasionally Sports Illustrated and WSJ. I like real life stories, specifically non-fiction. I need to know how the world is shaping up and how people are becomming successful. I need to stay business motivated and abreast of world events, to stay up on the stock market due to my learning of stocks, commodities, IPOs and other trades.

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

Like I said, I do autobiographies and non-fiction, so it helps by giving me views of peoples’ lives and I like motivational books that help self betterment.

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?

I rarely have any free time in schedule. I use my free time for networking or sleeping.

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

I really haven’t been practicing that as of now. Most of my time is spent on education and physical fitness. I tried to stick to the simplest terms of communication to not complicate things, being those that I’m dealing with have a lot to take in as it is.

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

To be truthfully honest with you, I have to look that up and get back to you.

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

It depends on the people you’re dealing with. There are some very intellectual people that use a vocabulary that is on a higher level than tv watchers, domino players and those not looking to better themselves. That is why I strive to communicate and associate myself with those that are of a business sense, and not those with limited communication skills.

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

If you speak clearly and pronounce your words correctly, it shows some level of intellect. You are wanting to be seen as one who wants to get a point across clearly and decisively. What you are saying is of importance to you.

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

Right now I’m really not one to speak on grooming or dressing due to my finances as well as the attire that is available. But I do know that you must dress for success. Appearance is everything. I had a time when I stayed up on my grooming to a “t”, then I kind of slack off in the winter. Don’t confuse grooming with hygiene though. I’m very focused on keeping good hygiene. Also, when you get a limited number of t-shirts, socks and other grooming and hygiene essentials, you have to make due with what you have until you can exchange for new stuff and that sometime can be one year that you have make 3 t-shirts, 3 boxers and 2 wash clothes last.

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

People can see all that you have done while incarcerated. Prospective employers can compare what you’ve documented to your actions in society. If you’re doing what you profess and exhibited, your drive and determination will let you meet your aspirations. It is vital that your growth and changes that you’ve done to better yourself.

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?

I have a few books that I’ve read and taken notes on and have applied what was useful to my everyday life.

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