Dr. Jennifer H. Waldeck Speaks the Truth to NAC Students About Communication
In the last lecture of the Chapman Visiting Scholars Series for the school year, Dr. Jennifer Waldeck stressed the importance of being able to communicate willingly and effectively with the Nicholas Academic Centers’ students. Dr. Waldeck, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Chapman University, used the concepts from her co-authored book, Business and Professional Communication in a Digital Age to examine the role communication plays in people’s everyday lives.
According to Dr. Waldeck, “Our willingness to grow as a communicator in all kinds of settings, even the ones outside our comfort zone, can help us in incredible ways.” Using “The Simultaneous Transactions Model of Communication,” she noted that a number of factors influence the ways people communicate, including physical surroundings, organizational culture, and social relationships. Hugo Gutierrez, NAC Executive Director, confirmed this by sharing with NAC students how he communicates in various settings with different groups: “There are many different angles I have to consider in my position here working with the organization. I engage with students and staff, and partners like Dr. Struppa and Dr. Waldeck, who come to visit, and funders. There’s a wide range of people I communicate with, and communication seems to be tailored to fit the audience.”
NAC students attending the lecture participated in a number of exercises designed by Dr. Waldeck to encourage people to pay closer attention to their audience and the ways in which they communicate. In one exercise, students sat with their backs to one another, and they struggled to communicate without using any visual cues. The students then faced their partners and found it much easier to have a conversation. NAC senior, Joe Serrano said, “It was hard to hear with our backs to one another, especially with so many people talking.” Dr. Waldeck noted that distractions like noise could impact people’s ability to communicate with their partners. She also mentioned that facial expressions and other body language could help listeners interpret what the speaker is saying and how he or she feels about it.
To further test the students’ ability to communicate, Dr. Waldeck challenged students to role-play, using specific words, tones, and gestures. When asked about the experience, NAC junior, Giovanni Hernandez stated, “It was interesting to see [the effects of] the tone you use… and I had to use body language to show whether I was interested or not.” Some of the students found it difficult to be convincing when saying things they did not mean. Cindy Ramirez, NAC sophomore, also participated in the role-playing exercise: “I was supposed to say something sincere, like ‘it’s nice to have you in our group,’ but it was kind of hard because I wasn’t really in that situation, and it was challenging for me to say it in a sincere way.”
Helping students recognize the importance of clear communication is just one of the methods the Nicholas Academic Centers use to prepare students for a collegiate environment.
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