Welcome to our free Working with Difficult People tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Working with Difficult People course.
In this lesson, you will learn about the different forms of communication.
There are six components of communication that we will review.
The sender is the originator of the message.
The receiver is the person intended to receive the message.
The message is the information that the sender wants to give to the receiver. Messages relay information. If the information does not get delivered appropriately, it is simply meaningless data. All messages should be meaningful.
The intent of the message is to do one of three things:
Good communication is important even in entertaining messages. After all, little is worse than telling a joke and having someone take it seriously.
Feedback tells the original sender:
Feedback can range from a grunt or an "OK" to a full paraphrasing of what was received.
Communication requires a complete loop, including feedback, unless the message is a broadcast intended to simply distribute information. In good communication, the message-feedback loop is repeated until both participants are satisfied that communication has taken place.
Noise, as it relates to communication, is not exclusive to sound. There are many kinds of noise, including:
In most situations, there will be noise. It is both the sender's and receiver's responsibility to be aware of the noise in their environment and to do what is necessary to overcome that noise. This may mean:
Filters modify the formation of the message and distort the reception of the message. Filters include:
Filters are not all bad. Filters are what help us discern between right and wrong, and are a part of our evaluation process that we build through experiences and education. The key to good communication is to understand filters and manage our own filters intentionally.
The best communication takes place when both parties listen and speak intentionally, but even if one person takes the lead, the exchange improves tremendously. A wise communicator will:
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions about the communication loop.
In this exercise, you will consider the following questions.
There are many ways to communicate, the majority of which do not involve words. According to Mele Koneya and Alton Barbour, authors of Louder than Words: Nonverbal Communication (Interpersonal Communication series. Columbus, OH: Merrill), oral communication is:
Because written language does not include intonation or body language, it becomes all the more important to express one's self carefully.
The following are various forms of communication and how they present themselves.
Verbal communication is the choice of words being used, whether written or oral. Verbal communication is affected by:
Voice intonation is a form of nonverbal communication that affects how we present our words. It includes:
The inflection is the pitch of the voice. Inflection tells a listener whether the person is making a statement or posing a question. It also communicates urgency. Notice how the inflection in the following sentences is distinctly different:
Emphasis is used to communicate the most important part of the sentence. Read the following sentences, placing the emphasis on a different word each time, and notice how the message changes:
Facial expressions are the strongest form of physical nonverbal communication because listeners are usually looking at the speaker's face. Facial expressions include, but are not limited to:
Physical stance is the position a person is in when they are talking to another person. It often communicates emotional status."
For example, when a person desires distance from the other person, he or she will:
When a person is feeling threatened or angry, he or she is likely to:
A person who wants more intimacy with another will:
Cultural norms will confuse nonverbal communications. For example:
To the best of one's ability, one should always consider the other person's cultural background before making assumptions about their communication.
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions about the different forms of communication.
For this exercise, please do the following:
Unless a message is a broadcast to distribute information or sent for entertainment purposes, one should always provide feedback to let the sender know that the message was received and the message was understood. Feedback may be:
When a sender is explaining something to the receiver and there could be doubt whether the message was received clearly, it can help if the receiver parrots (repeats) or paraphrases (rephrases) what the sender said. The sender can then acknowledge that the message was received correctly or restate the message to make it clearer.
When giving an opinion on the value or quality of something, a message can sometimes be received as hurtful.
For example, when a supervisor is commenting on the need for an employee to improve an area of his or her work, the employee may become defensive or offended by the statement.
To prevent this, use the sandwich approach to "sandwich" constructive criticism between two compliments. In this technique, the sender will:
Using the sandwich approach, the supervisor may say, "I appreciate your attention to detail and the quality of your work. I would like to you get the work done in a more timely manner, though, so please submit the report by its due date tomorrow at noon. I know you've done a lot of research, so I'm really looking forward to reading your insightful report!"
This is likely to be more easily accepted than if the supervisor said, "You're always late with your work. You need to get tomorrow's report done on time."
Using 'I' statements keeps the criticism from being focused directly on a person. In the previous message, we can see how the use of the words, "you" and "I" made a difference in the presentation.
The goal of critiquing is not to demean someone's work, but to present the issue and offer support and ideas for improvement. For this reason, it is very helpful to illustrate what the expected outcomes are.
This may be in the form of:
Objectives should always be clearly stated, and include:
Making something measurable provides the recipients with an understanding of the goal for which they are striving.
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions about constructive feedback.
In this exercise, consider the following questions.
A few feedback techniques were discussed in the last section. These included 'I' statements, paraphrasing and parroting. We will now look at some more skills and tools that can be used to improve communication.
Good communicators will take time to understand other people's perspectives and hear the people when they are speaking. A good communicator knows communication done right the first time saves a lot of time in the long run, even if it takes more time initially.
People with little patience will:
The value of listening cannot be underestimated. When we listen, we put ourselves into the receiver's position, rather than the sender's. We allow the speaker to state what is on his or her mind, and we take responsibility for giving feedback.
Active listening is the process of listening and responding with paraphrases and questions that ensure that the message from the speaker is being received.
Some active listening traits include:
Assumptions are very dangerous. An assumption is something taken for granted, and has the end effect of one person trying to read the mind of another person.
A sender should be cautious about assuming the receiver understood the message as intended. The receiver should seek clarification if there is any doubt about what was received.
A communicator who confuses sentence structure when speaking confuses the listener. Every language has its own structure, and people are conditioned to follow that structure when they are listening.
Good communicators will:
For example, a good communicator might construct his or her communication with a co-worker as follows:
If we are not sure the another person received our statement correctly, we should ask them to paraphrase it.
We have all heard parents ask their children, "What did I just say?" When we hear this, we know the parent is checking to make certain the child really heard what was said.
In the same way we can ask other people to paraphrase us. We can ask, "I hope what I said made sense. Do you mind rephrasing what I just said so that I know that I communicated correctly? (Notice the use of I statements, and the explanation for wanting the reiteration.)
If they did not get the concept we intended to communicate, do not repeat the sentence verbatim. Instead, say the same thing using different words. There might be something in the way we structured our original sentence or in the way they are receiving it that is not working. By rephrasing the sentence, we give the same information but in a way that they will understand.
A picture is worth 1000 words. We have heard this said many times before, and it is very true. Some people are verbal learners and can form a visual image in their mind from spoken or written words. Others are visual learners who do better with a visual model.
Visual aids may include:
When communicating important information, you may if appropriate and possible want to include a visual aid to communicate your point more effectively. If, for example, your boss is sharing how much higher sales numbers are this quarter, he or she may want to include a simple chart showing the dramatic difference. A simple graph can easily communicate the information more quickly than writing it out in sentences. Similarly, when you look at a picture or a chart or a diagram or other visual aid, it may take you several sentences to describe the information in the visual aid and/or convey the same message.
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions about constructive feedback.
In this exercise, you will...