Volunteerism Essay Example
My experiences with the two organizations I volunteered at were nothing less than inspiring and educational. I chose CareNet Pregnancy Centers and Snack Pak 4 Kids. I first chose CareNet because I have previously volunteered there several times before and have always had such a welcoming experience. The type of work they do and all the services they offer for women, children and families is phenomenal! I really feel like my communication skills are always really put to a test when I volunteer here because there are so many different women who are in need and some even are at a place where they feel lost. It is important to ensure that you are being sensitive and mindful when speaking with these women or families because the last thing you’d want to do is hurt or offend anybody. Snack Pak 4 Kids is also another organization that I love. This organization focuses on helping families and children who are in need of food. It’s really important to me to know that both of these places are non profit organization because it really shows that these people genuinely want to help their community.
Before taking this course, I didn’t really pay close attention to small details when having a conversation with someone. However, I have come to realize how nonverbal messages, emotional messages and the perception of yourself and others is important with any conversation you are having. Non verbal messages can tell you a variety of things about a person, such as: the expression on their face, whether or not they make eye contact with you while speaking or how they stand. Devito explains in Chapter 6 how facial messages can tell someone a lot about your interaction within the conversation. Devito says, “Throughout your interpersonal interactions, your face communicates many things, especially your emotions. Facial movements alone seem to communicate messages about pleasantness, agreement, and sympathy…” (Devito, Joseph A)(p. 126) When volunteering at CareNet, I learned that many of the women who go in there are very quiet and shy at first. They seem embarrassed or afraid, but quickly learn how kind and caring the people are. They make you feel comfortable and safe which is very important because some of their clients are young girls seeking help due to an unplanned pregnancy. By nodding your head, giving a smile or even giving a light touch on the shoulder can make all the difference when interacting with these women who are in these situations.
When working or volunteering with these organizations who deal with children and families who are in need, I feel as if it is crucial to understand how to be emotionally available and understand how to interact appropriately with them. Emotional messages and knowing how to react to different emotions is something you must understand whether you are dealing with someone else’s emotions or your own. In Chapter 7 of Interpersonal Messages: Books a La Carte Edition, Devito noted that, “Expressing your feelings is only half of the process of emotional communication; the other half is understanding the emotions of others and responding to these appropriately.” (Devito, Joseph A) (p. 164) Many of these kids come from broken homes or have emotionally unavailable parents, and most have a hard time expressing their true emotions due to a common fear of letting people in. Whether someone wants to be helped or not, I’ve learned it makes all the difference to ensure somebody that you have a listening ear if they ever need it.
Your perception of yourself and others reflects on how you interact within your interpersonal relationships. Being self aware allows you to be more in tune with who you really are and can help you understand how to effectively communicate your emotions. We all have four different types of selves: open self, blind self, hidden self and unknown self. Your open self is information about yourself that you know and others know, such as: your hair color, skin color, race, sex, name, etc. The information varies upon the relationship you have with certain people. Your blind self is information about yourself that you don’t know, but that others do know. For example, certain nonverbal messages you tend to express when happy, angry or annoyed is something that others can catch on about you while you are unaware. Your hidden self includes all information that only you know. This can be anything you choose to withhold from the world. Your unknown self is information you and others do not know and can only be projected through a dream or tests, which supports the fact of how we are all learning new things about ourselves. In Chapter 3, Devito lists five ways you can increase your self awareness. One thing that really stuck out to me was when Devito stated this: “Each person with whom you have an interpersonal relationship views you differently; to each you’re a somewhat different person. Yet you really are all of these selves, and your self-concept will be influenced by each of these views as they are reflected back to you in everyday interpersonal interactions.” (Devito, Joseph A)(p.54) Not only does this apply to yourself but to others as well. We see each other in different ways based on our relationships and how they also perceive us. That is why first impressions are always judged so harshly because that is what will affect someone’s perception of you. When servicing with these organizations, I make sure to always leave a good impression on anyone I come into contact with because that first interaction will go a long way.
My experiences with this course and with my service hours really made me more aware of how others communicate with me, and also helped me understand how to deal with my emotions better. I have learned how to increase my self esteem, self awareness, and how to open the door to being more expressive when it comes to how I feel. These interpersonal skills can be used every single day, in any type of work environment. The more you understand how to communicate more efficiently, the better your relationships will be in the long run. One of Devito’s first points in Chapter 1 was,” Interpersonal communication helps you relate to others and to form meaningful relationships whether it’s face to face or online. Such relationships help to alleviate loneliness and depression, enable you to share and heighten your pleasures, and generally make you feel more positive about yourself.” (Devito, Joseph A) (p.13) I couldn’t agree more with this point and after completing this course I feel more than positive that I will be able to take this material and apply it successfully to my everyday life. I feel as if I can begin to form healthier relationships with the people around me, and also help those who lack the ambition to become more secure in their own relationships.