Communication Styles Paper
Nova Southeastern University
HSDD 5500: Disability Services Administration
Dr. Alina Gonzalez
July 6, 2021
Communication Skills Required for Success
Shayna Gaunt, MA, BCBA, is the founder and executive director of Kid Mechanix, Inc.,
an ABA therapy centre providing a variety of programs and services to children with autism
spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families (interview, June 24, 2021). She has over 20 years of
experience implementing the science of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) with individuals
with ASD, Downs Syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and various other learning
and developmental disabilities. She has been certified as a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst
since 2005 (interview, June 24, 2021). Shayna holds an extremely important administrative role
in this company, as she oversees all operations for the entire organization, including day-to-day
scheduling, staff hiring and training, client intake interviews and assessments, and so much more
(interview, June 24, 2021). Speaking with Shayna, she identified key communication skills that
are necessary for success and advancement in the field of developmental disabilities, which
include; clarity, being concrete and concise, empathy, and the ability to listen (interview, June 24,
2021). Being clear, concrete and concise in the language you use is essential to avoid
miscommunications, which is essential in setting expectations and boundaries as an
administrator, especially within a human service agency. The ability to empathize with people
and the ability to listen to others, including coworkers, employees, clientele, and any other
primary or secondary stakeholders, is critical in developing a deep understanding of the
challenges and successes of those around you (interview, June 24, 2021). This is vital as it helps
to guide services and all future interactions. These communication skills are not only necessary
for success in the field of developmental disabilities, but are also transferable to success in
everyday life (interview, June 24, 2021).
My Current Communication Skills
I believe that, of the above-mentioned skills, I currently already possess the ability to
empathize and the ability listen to others. Not only do I feel that I possess these specific skills,
but I do believe that these are some of my biggest strengths with regards to my communication
style. I have the ability to really hear what people are saying, internalize the information,
empathize with those individuals, and problem solve when necessary. However, I have a
tendency to be more passive in my communication style and focus more on listening, as opposed
to those who are more straightforward and assertive communicators. For this reason, I feel that I
need to develop and continue to improve on my ability to be clear, concrete and concise when
communicating with others.
De Vries et al. (2009) found that there were seven main dimensions of communication
styles; preciseness, reflectiveness, expressiveness, supportiveness, emotionality, niceness, and
threateningness. Preciseness consists of clarity, conciseness, efficiency, and composure (De Vries
et al., 2009). Reflectiveness consists of engagement, analytical reflectiveness, and philosophical
or poetic communication behaviours. Expressiveness reflects a mix of talkativeness, certainty,
energy, and eloquence (De Vries et al., 2009). Supportiveness consists of accommodation,
admiration, and stimulation. Emotionality reflects the components sadness, irritability, anger, and
tension (De Vries et al., 2009). Niceness consists of the friendliness, modesty, and cheerfulness.
Finally, threateningness consists mainly of abuse and deceptiveness (De Vries et al., 2009). After
analyzing these dimensions of communication and examining the important communication
skills outlined by Shayna Gaunt, I feel that she most strongly values preciseness, expressiveness,
and supportiveness. I think the De Vries et al. (2009) effectively outlined various types and levels
of communication, as well as the most critical attributes of each communication style. One of my
biggest struggles in communicating clearly and effectively is my preciseness and expressiveness.
I often find myself searching for the right words to accurately describe what I am thinking or
how I am feeling, and this often causes misunderstandings due to my lack of clarity. Further, I
have a tendency to ramble with my words, and this inability to be concise can also cause
misunderstandings amongst individuals with whom I am communicating. Conversely, I feel that
my ability to listen and empathize with people further lends itself to my proficiency in
Hartman and McCambridge (2011) found that 97.7% of Fortune 500 vice presidents
believe that communication skills had affected their advancement to a top executive position.
Additionally, they found that effective communication skills, including oral, written, and
interpersonal skills, have established a minimum threshold that determines the success of a new
employee and is directly linked to organizational success. Millennials are often characterized as
being technologically advanced and highly capable of multitasking effectively, yet are seriously
deficient in various oral, written and interpersonal communication skills necessary to succeed as
an individual and as part of an organization (Hartman & McCambridge, 2011). Further, success
and advancement in the field relies heavily on a diverse set of communication styles and
techniques to deliver appropriate messages, solicit feedback, and motivate those around you
(Gilley, et al., 2009). In order to learn to successfully communicate in all areas, and with all
people, it is important that I am able to develop and improve in the areas where I am currently
lacking. To do so, I must construct and adhere to a personal action plan with the goal of
ultimately strengthening my ability to communicate effectively.
According to Lukaszewski (2003), one of the most effective ways of addressing unhelpful
and destructive communication behaviours is by labeling and describing them. Doing so enables
recognition of the issue, discourages the behaviours, and ultimately will allow for reflection and
lead to a change in the undesirable behaviour (Lukaszewski, 2003). I believe that this course, and
this paper, has encouraged a lot of self-reflection and has acted as an extremely effective first
step in my personal action plan to enhance my communication skills; identifying the problem.
Through this reflection I have identified, labelled, and described my greatest challenges in
communicating effectively with others, which is my inability to communicate clearly, using
concrete, concise language. I personally learn and grow the most when I am put into situations
outside my comfort zone that put pressure on me to succeed. Therefore, the next step in my
action plan would be to identify areas in my life where I can push myself and my communication
skills further or enter leadership positions where I am required to communicate more effectively
In order to evaluate my growth and the perceivable changes in my communication skills
and style, I would use a combination of self-monitoring and evaluations completed by others.
The self-evaluation process would include journalling and habit tracking that would provide me
with various insights into the choices I make each day with regards to communication styles,
why, and the outcome. Additionally, I would request assistance from trusted peers, colleagues,
and those in leadership and supervisory positions in completing peer evaluation forms on a
regular basis that would allow me to track my progress from an unbiased, objective lens.
Chiviacowsky and Wulf (2005) state that self-controlled feedback schedules benefit learning as
they are more tailored to the performers’ needs than externally controlled feedback schedules.
Therefore, these two forms of evaluation would provide functional and constructive feedback,
and result in significant increases in my ability to develop new communication skills and
improve upon those I already possess.
Chiviacowsky, S., & Wulf, G. (2005). Self-Controlled Feedback Is Effective if It Is Based on the
Learner's Performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 76(1), 42–48. https://
De Vries, R. E., Bakker-Pieper, A., Alting Siberg, R., van Gameren, K., & Vlug, M. (2009). The
Content and Dimensionality of Communication Styles. Communication Research, 36(2),
Gaunt, S. (2021, June 24). Interview by J. Stein.
Gilley, A., Gilley, J. W., & McMillan, H. S. (2009). Organizational change: Motivation,
communication, and leadership effectiveness. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 21(4),
Hartman, J. L., & McCambridge, J. (2011). Optimizing Millennials’ Communication Styles.
Business Communication Quarterly, 74(1), 22–44. https://doi.org/
Lukaszewski, J. E. (2003). Overcoming destructive management communication behavior.
Public Relations Quarterly, 48(3), 25.