The Art Of Communication - Online Article

MURPHY”S Laws of Communication

  1. Communication usually fails – except by chance.
  2. If any message can be understood in many ways, it will usually be understood in the way that can cause the most harm. Studies have shown that if seven messages are sent, only one gets through effectively!

Non - Verbal Behavior Intepretation

Brisk, erect walk Confidence Standing with hands on hips Readiness, aggression Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly Boredom Sitting, legs apart Open, relaxed Arms crossed on chest Defensiveness Walking with hands in pockets, shoulders hunched Dejection Hand to cheek Evaluation, thinking, touching, slightly rubbing nose Rejection, doubt, lying Rubbing the eye Doubt, disbelief.

Hands clasped behind back Anger, frustration, apprehension Locked ankles Apprehension Head resting in hand, eyes downcast Boredom Rubbing hands Anticipation Sitting with hands clasped behind head, legs crossed Confidence, superiority Open palm Sincerity, openness, innocence Pinching bridge of nose, eyes closed Negative evaluation Tapping or drumming fingers Impatience Steepling fingers Authoritative.

Patting/fondling hair Lack of self-confidence; insecurity Tilted head Interest Stroking chin Trying to make a decision Looking down, face turned away Disbelief Biting nails Insecurity, nervousness. Pulling or tugging at ear Indecision

Active Listening

Active listening is listening carefully, with the added effort of trying to understand the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.And then, showing to him that you understand him. The skills of Active Listening are :Suspending Judgement: Keep an open mind. Don’t speak or interrupt. Concentrate on hearing and understanding the speaker. Make him aware that you understand him.

  • Attending Skills: Attention to the speaker through eye-contact, head nods, suitable sounds, and verbal statements.
  • Clartionifica: Check with the speaker the meaning of words, and your following of the subject matter.
  • Summarization: Briefly repeating to the speaker the main points of what he has said.
  • Paraphrasing: Briefly reporting back to the speaker, in your own words, your understanding of what he has said. This is the most important skill of active listening.

Exercise on Active Listening

In the worksheet given below, there are six statements in the left-hand column, made by one person to another. You have to paraphrase the statements and write a brief response as per the procedure already explained to you. The paraphrase statements may start with the stems “It sounds like…” “It appears that…” “It seems as though…” “I imagine that…”

What you are told Active Listening response ?

  1. I wasted a lot of time in attemptingthe first question, and as a result I had to hurry while answering the other questions. I don’t know if the answers are good enough for me to pass the exam.
  2. Jyotsna came to my house, and said to me:”Amita, I would love to have lunch with you, but after the last fiasco I think I won’t take the risk again.” I’ll never speak to her again. 
  3. My parents interfere a lot with whatever I want to do. They always keep advising me about everything. It’s as if parents never want us to do what makes us happy.
  4. Younger brother to elder brother: “You are much more intelligent than I am, and that’s why mother is ashamed of me. She loves you more than she loves me, and I hate this.”
  5. Arjun is jealous of my getting higher grades than him. He is such a poor sport that he shows it openly in the class. He tries to cut me out of so many activities. I think that’s why he doesn’t lend me his notes when I ask him to.
  6. These union meetings are a real pain in the neck. They never start on time. They give some time, but everyone strolls in as if they are doing us a favour. I am really mad at being the only punctual person at these meetings.

Active Listening Quiz

Try this simple self-scoring quiz to find out if you actively listen. If you usually practice the skills mentioned below, score yourself with “2.” If you sometimes practice the skill, give yourself “1.” If you don’t practice it at all, give yourself “0.” Keep this quiz with you, and refer to it from time to time, so as to find out whether you have improved in areas where you were lacking, and have become a really active listener. Above all, be very honest in scoring yourself. Ideal answers are not required. This quiz is your own confidential one, so rate yourself honestly to find out how you can improve.

  • I talk with others personally. ________
  • I’m asked my advice by other people. ________
  • I’m the kind of person whom people feel easy to talk to ________
  • I don’t talk with someone else unless I have something I have to talk about. ________
  • I’m willing to say something to others usually. ________
  • When I can’t follow what the other person is talking about, I ask him to clarify. ________
  • I listen to the other person, putting myself in his/her shoes. ________
  • I listen to the other person, summarizing in my mind what he/she has said. ________
  • I sometimes give the other person a brief summary of what he/she has said. ________
  • I can mutually understand anybody. ________
  • I can take an interest in anybody. ________
  • I tend to listen to others seriously. ________
  • I can keep listening to the other person, even if I’m not interested in his/her talk. ________
  • I can listen to the other person, even if he/she has a different opinion from mine. ________
  • I tend to talk in a direct and persuasive way, while talking with others. ________
  • When I begin to talk at the same time as the other person did, I let him/her talk. ________
  • When the other person is hesitating, I wait for him/ her to begin talking. ________
  • I listen to the other person, paying attention to his/ her unexpressed feelings. ________
  • While listening, I’m careful not to interrupt the other person’s talk. ________
  • I don’t get tired from listening to others. ________
  • I ignore phones or other distractions while listening to a person. ________
    If I don’t know the answer to a problem or question, I say “I don’t know.” ________
  • While talking to someone, I use the person’s name often. ________
  • In emotional conversations, I paraphrase the speaker at key points. ________
  • In case I have an important meeting to attend, I tell the speaker before.
  • He starts so as to forewarn him, but I don’t distract him by looking at
    my watch from time to time, or asking him to hurry up. ________
  • I thank the speaker for sharing his feelings with me. ________
  • I am not irritated even if he repeats himself often. ________
  • I am good at all the attending skills. ________
  • I speak slowly and carefully so as not to make offensive statements. ________
  • As far as possible, I avoid speaking during the conversation,
    unless the speaker explicitly asks me to. ________

Feedback

Feedback is information to the concerned persons regarding the good or bad effect of their action or behaviour. The action or behaviour is continued or modified based on this feedback. The three characteristics of feedback are: Feedback is always given by an outside source. Feedback points out the gap, if any, between the intentions and the effects. Thus corrective action can be taken. Feedback gives rise to different perspectives, leading to collation, discussion, and holistic results. The tool we use for giving feedback is called the Feedback Response. It is a four-step model, and can be used for all situations, whether negative or positive feedback is to be given. The four steps are as follows:

  1. Behaviour Description – In this step we tell the other person exactly what he said or did.
  2. Feelings – In this step we tell the other person what we felt because of his action or behaviour.
  3. Impact – In this step we tell the other person what was, or would be, the effect of his action or behaviour.
  4. Request – In this step we request the other person for a change in his action or behavior which would correct the situation.

Let us take a practical example to illustrate this. Let us say that you belong to a team of five persons, and one of you is being sent abroad by your company. Each member of the team is hoping to be that person. Your boss quietly lets you know that you will go abroad, and tells you to keep it confidential till it is announced. Another friend of yours, Ashok, who is also close to the boss, comes to know this. He rushes to your cubicle to congratulate you. He stands at the cubicle door and says loudly: “Congrats! I heard that you are going abroad!” You silently motion to him to keep quiet, and take him out of the office to the coffee machine. There, you give him feedback as per the four-step model.

  • Behaviour Description: Ashok, when you said congrats loudly in the Office, Feelings : I really felt embarrassed, since my team-mates don’t know about it yet.
  • Impact: My friends will think that I’m cheating them in some manner.
  • Request: Could you please keep the matter a secret till it is announced by the boss?

Exercise on Feedback Response

Let us now try to form feedback responses in the four cases given below. After brainstorming about the response statement, each team will act out the situation in a ‘before-after’ scenario.

Case 1

Your mathematics department is the last room in the corridor. The new annex of the college is being constructed just next to the classroom. Work is going on day and night so as to finish the new building on time. Sometimes the construction work disturbs your class, but you are putting up with minor disturbances. From the past three days, the contractor is doing concreting of the various areas of the new wing. He has the habit of dragging the concrete mixer in the passage next to your class room every day for the work. There is a loud noise every time. Sometimes the mixer is taken past the room 3 to 4 times a day. Everyone is getting disturbed because of this.You want to give the contractor feedback regarding this matter.

Behaviour Description:
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Feelings:
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Impact:
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Request:
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Case 2

Your room-mate in the hostel is Rohan. He is a very good person, and does not create any problems for you. He is quiet and studious, and does not disturb you when you are studying. He does not bring his friends to the room without first asking you. However, Rohan does have a small habit that really irritates you. When he comes out of the bathroom after having his bath, he tends to leave his clothes and towel thrown about on the floor. Since this is a minor thing, and he is good in all other ways, you just put his clothes and towel in the clothes basket, and not tell him anything. Recently, he has also started to leave the soap, not in its case, also on the floor, which is a really dangerous thing, especially in the dark. Now you are getting really irritated, and you want to give him feedback regarding his habit.

Behaviour

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Feelings:
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Impact:
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Request:
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Case 3

Ramola is one of the members of your debating team of 5 people, and all the rest are boys. She is a very quiet person, and doesn’t speak much; in fact, rarely speaks at all. The other boys are all very fluent with their facts and figures, and have been on the team for a long time. Ramola has been put on the team because of the English Professor, who is her uncle. The others don’t like it, but keep quiet because they can’t do anything about it. The debating team wins during the preliminary contests, with Ramola being just satisfactory, and then travels to Delhi, for the finals, where they meet the debating team from St. Stephens College. That particular debating team is of a very high quality, and your team somehow manages to keep a balance. It is Ramola’s turn to speak last. Only by being extraordinarily good can she make your team win. You curse the English Professor for having put Ramola on the team. When Ramola starts to speak, you and your team-mates are amazed. She is not only very fluent, but her marshalling of facts, figures, and research material shows that she is a real intellectual. Her performance is so good that the judges have no hesitation in awarding the trophy to your team. You want to give feedback to Ramola on her performance.

Behaviour

Description:
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Feelings:
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Impact:
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Request:
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Case 4

You and four of your friends belong to a Project team, and your Project Leader is Anil. Anil is an efficient worker, and he also enthuses the other persons of the team to deliver their best. But there is a problem. For some reason, Anil seems to be indifferent towards you and your ideas. You have been ignoring this aspect of his behaviour for some time. Lately, however, Anil has been showing his attitude towards you in the project meetings also. He allows everyone else to speak freely, but when you want to speak or give your ideas which will really save time and money for the project, he raises his hand in a “Wait” gesture. You feel quite angry and demoralized because of this, You are also not able to put up your really good ideas because of his attitude.

You want to give feedback to Anil about how you feel.

Behaviour

Description:
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Feelings:
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Impact:
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Request:
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Receiving Feedback

  • Accept the feedback gracefully.
  • Paraphrase the feedback.
  • While paraphrasing, maintain a neutral or positive body language.
  • Ask the other person for specific behaviour description.
  • Reassure him that this information is for taking corrective action.
  • Then explain your point of view and actions.
  • Thank the other person for his feedback.

About the Author:

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Comments

Prashant Gaur on 2009-02-20 08:58:32 wrote,

Well this is an Article which i've been waiting for so long....a very nice Article in which you can ironically just see the mirror image of your personality & just know about where you really lag behind other good communicators & moreover you can easily get to know what you should do to get on par with them.....!!!!