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COMMUNICATION SKILLS

From birth we are engaged in the process of communicating. Why, then, do we experience so many problems in communicating our wants and needs to others? Communication involves more than just speaking words. In order to communicate effectively, we must be willing to express feelings/thoughts and be willing to listen to what is being said.

Acceptance

  • Think back to an experience when you were talking to someone and they discounted what you said with statements like, "You could have done better" or "Why do you always do that?"

  • Statements like these not only convey a message of unacceptance, they can also block open communication.
  • The words we choose, our tone of voice and the non-verbal messages we send can communicate a feeling of acceptance or unacceptance.

  • Statements that convey an invitation to talk openly are:

* "Tell me about it."

* "This seems important to you."

* "Letís talk about it."

* "How do you feel about it?"

* "Iíd like to know what you think about it."

  • Non-verbal messages are those messages we convey through our actions. Eye contact, body posture, facial expressions and gestures are all forms of non-verbal communication. It is important to become aware of what we are saying non-verbally when we talk to others.

Listening

  • In order for communication to be complete, you need someone to listen to you. Too often a problem in communication is that the person being spoken to (receiver) misunderstands what the speaker (sender) is saying. One way to ensure that this does not happen is to use a method of listening that is called ACTIVE LISTENING. this is when you check out with the sender what he is saying. You can do this by making clarifying statements like:
    • "So what you are saying is....."
    • "It seems like you are feeling frustrated with...."
    • "Let me check this out with you so that I understand what you are saying."

Confronting

  • It is often necessary for us to confront negative behaviors. This is not a pleasant time. It is during these times that it is important to remember to keep the lines of communication open.
  • Allow others to express their feelings appropriately. This does not mean that you should allow them to yell or get into name-calling. When this does happen, it is not acceptable behavior. Make sure you are aware of your non-verbal messages. Tone of voice is important. You could say the same words, but project different meanings simply by your tone of voice.
  • When confronting, it is important that you let others know your feelings regarding a specific behavior. Good approaches might be:

 

  • "I am concerned about...."
  • "Could we talk about this?"
  • "I want to hear what you have to say."

 

The approach you take in confronting others will determine the success of communication. Some important rules to remember are:

  1. Nobody likes to be told they are wrong.
  2. Express your feelings regarding specific behavior.
  3. Discuss your issues and concerns appropriately and assertively without yelling.
  4. Use active listening to check out what is being said.

COMMUNICATING IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. HOWEVER WHEN YOU CAN PUT THE TECHNIQUES DISCUSSED INTO ACTION AND WORK ON POSITIVE WAYS OF COMMUNICATING, THE RESULTS CAN OFTEN BE POSITIVE EXPERIENCES. THE MORE YOU PRACTICE THESE SKILLS THE MORE NATURAL THEY BECOME. IT IS IMPORTANT TO ADMIT TO YOURSELF THAT COMMUNICATING IN AN APPROPRIATE MANNER WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE MORE PRODUCTIVE.


TEN GUIDELINES OF COMMUNICATION

1. Be an active listener and do not answer until the other person has finished talking.

2. Be slow to speak. Think first about what you are going to say and how it may sound. Speak in such a way that the other person can understand what you say.

3. Speak the truth always, but do it with unconditional love. "Unconditional" means no matter what you say or do, I will still love you.

4. Do not use silence to frustrate the other person. Explain why you are hesitant to talk at this time.

5. Do not become involved in quarrels, fighting, name-calling or cursing. It is possible to disagree without quarreling.

6. Do not respond in anger. Count to 10, leave the room and come back when you can respond in an acceptable manner.

7. When you are wrong, admit it and ask for forgiveness. Remember these six important words, "I am sorry" and "I was wrong". When someone confesses to you, tell them you forgive them. Be sure it is forgotten and not brought up to that person again. Keep the past the past.

8. Do not make promises. When promises are not kept, feelings of guilt appear and the desire to give up arises.. Make a commitment to the other to try to improve. When you fall, then try again and again. Failing is when you no longer try.

9. Do not blame or criticize the other, restore and encourage them by building them up. If someone verbally attacks, criticizes or blames you, do not respond in a like manner.

10. Try to understand the other personís opinion. Make allowances for differences. Be concerned about their interests. Sometimes there is neither a right or wrong way, just an opinion. You do not always have to agree.


"TELL EACH OTHER EVERY DAY THAT YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND FORGIVE EACH OTHER. IF YOU LOVE AND FORGIVE, YOU WILL BE TOGETHER THE REST OF YOUR LIVES


"GETTING THROUGH TO EACH OTHER"

  • Agree to these ground rules
  • Pick a time and place thatís comfortable and workable for those involved
  • Agree that you will not resort to name-calling or blaming each other
  • Stick to the issues at hand, not past ones just ones that brought you to this point of meeting
  • Let each person speak without interruption
  • Be specific, and use very clear íIí statements. No, íYou did thisí or Ďyou made meí.
  • Check to make sure you are understood. Let the other repeat back what they heard. See if what you were saying was heard as you meant it to be heard.
  • Brainstorm, see what you can do to change the situation, and try to make both positions part of the solution.
  • Now, try the solution and see if it works. If not, renegotiate.

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATING: SELF-EVALUATION

Answer each of the questions below with a number 1-4.

1- Most of the time

2- Frequently

3-Occasionally

4-Almost never

_____________________________________________________________________

DO YOU:

1. _____ Tune out people who say something you donít agree with or donít want to hear?

2. _____ Concentrate on what is being said even if you are not really interested?

3._____ Assume you know what the speaker is going to say and stop listening?

4. _____ Repeat in your own words what the speaker has just said?

5. _____ Listen to the other personís viewpoint, even if it differs from yours?

6._____ Learn something from each person you meet, even if it is ever so slight?

7._____ Find out what words mean when they are used in ways not familiar to you?

8._____ Form a rebuttal in your head while the speaker is talking?

9._____ Give the appearance of listening when you arenít?

10. ____ Daydream while the speaker is talking?

11. _____ Listen for main ideas, not just facts?

12. _____ Recognize that words donít mean exactly the same thing to different people?

13. _____ Listen to only what you want to hear, blotting out the speakerís whole message?

14. _____ Look at the person who is speaking?

15. _____ Concentrate on the speakerís meaning rather than how he or she looks?

16. _____ Know which words and phrases you respond to emotionally?

17. _____ Think about what you want to accomplish with your communication?

18. _____ Plan the best time to say what you want to say?

19. _____ Think about how the other person might react to what you say?

20. _____ Consider the best way to communicate ( written, spoken, phone, bulletin board, memo, etc.)

21. _____ Think about what kind of person youíre talking to (worried, hostile, disinterested, shy, rushed, stubborn, impatient, etc.)?

22. _____ Feel you usually Ďget throughí to the other person?

23. _____ Think, ĎI assumed he or she would know thatí?

24. _____ Allow the speaker to vent negative feelings toward you without becoming defensive?

25. _____ Exercise regularly to increase your listening efficiency?

26. _____ Take notes when necessary to help you remember?

27. _____ Hear sounds without being distracted by them?

28. _____ Listen to the speaker without judging or criticizing?

29. _____ Restate instructions and messages to be sure you understand correctly?

30. _____ Come in with a statement about what you believe the speaker is feeling?