Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Communication skills

Sam told me I need to improve my communication skills with my field assistants and with Dr. K. (my Ukenzagapian external committee member/in-country advisor). Sam acts as my sort of liason for sorting these things out because he is Ukenzagapian but also totally assimilated into American culture. The problem was two-fold.

1. The way in which I was communicating with Dr. K. over email was potentially disrespectful because I was asking him to do things more like a colleague rather than an advisor. I think this was a misunderstanding because I thought that he wanted me to go through him for communicating with my field assistants while I'm back in Big City to reduce the possibilty of mis-translation.

2. The field assistant-to- Dr. K. -to- Sam grapevine reports that my field assistants often didn't understand what I was trying to do until we did it, but if I'd explained what I wanted to do more clearly then they could've helped me figure it out. Basically, my instructions are unclear. Dr. K. also said this about the directions I tried to give over email for a project my field assistants are setting up this month.

This second point worries me because it confirms my fear that I came across just as clueless in the field as I sometimes felt.

This fear was also confirmed when Sam told me that Dr. K. expected me to have more things figured out already because I'm getting a Ph.D. in the U.S. and Sam is having to remind him that grad students come in with a variety of experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. In short, I didn't really know what I was doing and it showed.

I know I need to harden the f#$@ up and be able to take some constructive criticism. I'm still learning. A lot. I shouldn't be so hard on myself. But still...

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