How can reflective writing bring past events back into focus?

How can reflective writing bring past events back into focus?

Introduction

A reflective thought is an “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends” (Dewey, 1933). I would say that reflective writing focuses on bringing past events back into focus, and is a chance to see if you would do anything different. An effective presentation has two main key aspects of communication verbal and non-verbal, Sharma (2004) states that a person who is not talking expresses communication through body language. Furthermore, Rogers (2009) explains that our strongest impressions of a speaker are often visual impressions, a gesture, intended or not is apt to have as great an effect on listeners as the word you are speaking.

In regard to the consultancy case it was vital to pay attention to what the client, defined by Weiss (2003:7) a client can be an individual or organisation that engages a consultant to achieve certain results’, had stated and whilst during the interview not to press so hard on issues that had already been stated. During the presentation it is important to pay attention the client’s body language such as relaxed facial expressions and tone of voice to determine interest. Gestures also keep the client engaged Rogers (2009) suggests that ‘movement gives the audience the impression that you are talking with them and rather than at them’.

I was not able to attend the first initial contact with the client which was the interview due to medical reasons; however the other members of the consultancy firm, with permission, were able to record the meeting. I was then able to listen to the interview to gain an understanding of what was asked and the response. Weiss (2003) introduces the 10 traits of a consultant; Weiss also describes communication as influence “effective use of language influences a discussion”. I believe that Rogers theory (2009) of a speaker emphasizes important words and ideas by speaking louder or by repeating a key concept became evident when a member of the team asked ‘what is your customer base’ the client’s response was that ‘we have loyal customers, mostly repeat customers, new customers hear from loyal customers by word of mouth, our customers are very loyal’.

My initial contact with the client was during the presentation, this was when the client met the whole of the team for the first time and for the team to make a good first impression. According to Ambady & Skowronski (2008) exposure for a few seconds produces the first impression, which is normally very accurate. Body language is key to a good first impression Taylor (2005) expresses that the use of tone and gestures should be used to reinforce words. I believe that my presentation skills need a great deal of improvement as I get nervous and start to repeat what I have already said and not making sense. Levin & Topping (2006) suggest a number of methods which could b used to combat nerves, in the future I will take these into consideration. Mandel (2000) defines 3 statements for planning a successful presentation. Through my experience at giving presentations the use of this would have been very helpful.

In the future I will focus more on preparation as this could easy the nerves which show through my body language, as once the presentation starts it is difficult to fix non-verbal behaviour Rogers (2009).

I enjoyed learning the module. At first I was not too sure about what the module entailed, progressing through the week I found the topics covered interesting, for instance I knew that a person is judged on appearance and body language on the first impression, but I did not know that it only took a person less than a minute for form an opinion which is usually correct. I liked the learning style in the workshops as I find it easier to learn something by first seeing then doing and then asking questions if I need to, this was all done in the tutorial workshops. Kolb’s learning theory (1984) also aided my learning to some extent.

According to Parker (2008:13) teams are everywhere, in businesses, sport, education and the arts; of great importance in professional life, and that not all teams are effective.

My initial thought about my selected group was that we could work well; we all seem to be aiming for a high grade. I previously knew one of the group members as we were working on other group work together, this made it easier to talk within the group. The group was solely formed for the purpose of completing the consultancy skills project. According to Business dictionary (2011) A team is defined as “a group of people with a set of complementary skills required in completing a task, job or project where the sum of performance is greater than performance of individual members”.

I took the VARK learning style test it showed that I am a multimodal learner which took me by surprise as in past tests I have shown to be a kinaesthetic learner. When working I look at all possible options and eliminate inappropriate ones. I feel that I was not able to do this as things were rushed. All team members participated in a Belbin test and from the use of this we went through the development stages described by Tuckman (1965). The Belbin test helped to identify each members preferred roles. The team learnt to respect one another’s preferred working environments; essential within a team environment (Douglas 1978).

The group was very understanding when I had to take time off for personal and health reasons as I gave dates for my absence when the group was formed. In the beginning the work was shared equally, however due to illness I could not participate as much as I would have like so the group had to take over most of my role. However through my absence I was in constant contact with the group. Communication is “the process of using verbal and non verbal cues to negotiate a mutually acceptable meaning between two or more people within a particular context and environment” (Lumsden et al, 2004). Communication methods used by the team indicated email involving all members was thought the most efficient method of virtual work enabling clear information flow apparent in modern project management (Martin and Tate, 2001).

I feel that we worked well as a team, however unforeseen circumstances contributed to some friction within the group. The group organisation was also poor, due to other assignment commitments we left quite a few things to the last minute, which means people were under pressure, which caused arguments. According to Allen (2009), “effective teams are well organised, spend time building relationships and have quality communication;”

Each person brought something different to the group. From looking at the Belbin tests I can see that two of the team members are suited to be project managers as they scored high in complete finisher, which was highlighted when the report was being written. Another member scored highly on co-ordinator, I feel that this did not shine through. Other aspects of the results from the Belbin test shone through throughout the life of the project. Portraying several aspects of effective teams; sharing a common purpose, bonded together by mutual interdependency, utilisation of individual talents, maintaining a problem solving focus and encouraging one another (Gray and Larson, 2011).

Next time I will try to handle situations better. Referring back to Allen (2009) better organisation would prove beneficial; a project plan with a time line would have helped us keep in control of all work. Looking back on the Belbin test there are a lot of traits that I need to work on. I can motivate myself to do work and get on with a task, however working in a group you need the ability to motivate others which I feel I lack. During this group/team work has highlighted many of my strengths and weaknesses. I feel that I have improved on my confidence at meeting new people. This task has also made me more aware of my surroundings. Completing the Belbin and VARK test I can see me preferred learning and my preferred roles, this enables me to work on these traits for future work and references. This has been an experience that if I had a chance to do it again there would be a number of things that I would change, with this being the case it has given me areas that I can work and improve on. I hope that the other members of the team have learnt something from me as working with them I have learnt a great deal.

References

Allen, B. (2009). Study Skills for Business and Management Students. London: McGraw Hill: Open University Press

Ambady, N, & Skowronski, J J (2008). First impressions. New York: Guilford Publications INC. p18.

Bradbury, A (2006). Successful Presentation Skills. 3rd ed. London: Kogan Page.

Business Dictionary. (2011) Team definition. Available at: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/team.html [Accessed on Friday 1st April 2011]

Cook, N D. (2002). Tone of voice and mind the connections between intonation, emotion, cognition, and consciousness. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Dewey, J (1933). How We Think.

Douglas, T (1971) Basic Groupwork. London: Tavistock Publications.p69

Gray, C.F. Larson, E.W. (2011) Project management: the managerial process. England: McGraw-Hill Irwin (5th Edition)

Levin, P & Topping, G (2006). Perfect Presentations. Berkshire, England: McGraw Education. p94-95.

Lumsden et al (2004) Communicating in groups and teams: sharing leadership. Boston: Wadsworth

Martin, P. Tate, K (2001) Getting started in Project Management. John Wiley and Sons: eBook

Parker, G. (2008) Team Players and Teamwork: new strategies for developing successful collaboration. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons (2nd Edition)

Rogers, R L, Mattu, A, & Winters, M (2009). Practical Teaching in Emergency Medicine. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sharma, V M (2004). Body Language: The Art of Reading Gestures and Postures. Delhi: Pustak Mahal. p15.

Taylor, S (2005). communication for business a practical approach. 4th ed. Essex: Pearson Longman.

Wainwright, Gordon (2010). Understand Body Language 2010: Hodder Education 2010.

Weiss, A (2003). Getting Started in Consulting. 2nd ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p5-8.