Chapter 9 Outline

Chapter 9: Communicating

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Effective communication can defuse arguments, avert misunderstandings, create harmonious relationships and lead to greater personal and career satisfaction. Chapter Nine will provide tips to strengthen your natural communications skills.

I. Everyday Personal Communication

We communicate every day. Communication is crucial for everyone.

a. Talk the Talk. You have 30 seconds to make a first impression.

i. Have an appropriate expression. Be sure your facial expression matches your words. A survey found that 93% of communication is nonverbal.

ii. Moderate your speaking speed. Either extreme of speaking quickly or slowly can turn off listeners. If you need to adjust, practice speaking out loud and consciously listen to yourself during conversations.

iii. Use pauses. Pausing gives people time to absorb your words.

iv. Eliminate fillers. Try to avoid words such as “umm” or “uh.” The word “like” has taken over today’s casual conversation. Fillers can be extremely distracting and lessen the perception of yourself as a professional.

v. Speak loudly enough to be heard, but don’t be overbearing. Whispering can be seen as condescending while speaking too loudly can be annoying.

vi. Smile while you’re speaking on the phone. Remember to keep a pleasant expression on the phone in place of body language.

vii. Watch your diction. Completing words make you sound smarter.

viii. Control your breathing when you get nervous or excited. You will sound more credible.

Effective communication is often an outgrowth of a positive self-image.

b. Listen and Learn. Communication isn’t just knowing what to say and when to say it, it’s also about knowing when to stop talking and listen.

i. Passive Listening. This is for when a conversation is emotional, confidential or of a personal nature. Use the acronym S.O.L.E.R. to teach passive listening skills.

1. Sit squarely facing the other person.

2. Open your posture toward the speaker

3. Lean forward

4. Eye contact is important

ii. Active listening. This is used in a flowing give-and-take conversation.

1. Concentrate on the speaker’s message and resist distractions

2. Keep an open mind to others’ ideas

3. don’t tune out if you disagree

4. Indicate you understand what the speaker has said by restating their ideas

c. Avoiding Conflict with “I” Messages. Conflict is inevitable in any type of relationship. By using “I” messages instead of “you” messages, the other person will feel emotionally safe in responding to your statement. Avoid generic statements such as “always” and “never” and remember to watch your body language.

II. Better Communication for Education Success

Effective communication is vital for the education environment.

a. Classroom Communication. It’s important to remember you are in the classroom to learn. Use these tips to respect your education.

i. Be on time

ii. Arrive prepared

iii. Sit at the front of the class and away from any windows with eye-catching views.

iv. Don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices

v. Keep your conversations on task

vi. Don’t dominate the classroom discussion

vii. Do become involved in class discussion

viii. Save the clowning around for the weekend

ix. Handle disappointment and mistakes maturely

b. Communication in Group Projects. Employers indicate one of the skills they are looking for is the ability to work in a team to achieve the common goal. The following are strategies to help facilitate group communication.

i. Make sure everyone in the group feels equally valued

ii. Listen actively

iii. Be responsive to each other

iv. Be curious

v. Establish clear common goals and identify specific roles for each group member

vi. Commit to attend, prepare and be on time for group meetings

vii. Take responsibility for your share

viii. Value multiple points of view

ix. Make a group decision whether to reject or accept an idea

x. Keep minutes on group meetings

c. Approaching a Teacher About Your Grades or Other Issues. Professors are considered to be experts in their field and deserve the respect their position brings. If you have an issue with your teacher, employ the following tips.

i. Assess responsibility for the problem

ii. Set an appointment and be on time

iii. Use polite conversation to set the tone

iv. Use your “I” messages

v. Don’t argue

vi. Show an attitude of gratitude

vii. Move through the hierarchy if you don’t believe your grievance has been addressed by your instructor

viii. Take a group approach

ix. Document and be prepared to back up your claim

x. Be realistic about the outcome of your meeting

III. Interpersonal Communication on the Job

The workforce contains a variety of fluid relationships. Work relationships form the basis for promotion, pay increases, goal accomplishment and work satisfaction. Here are a few suggestions to getting along at work:

i. Bring suggested solutions with the problems to the meeting table

ii. Don’t play the blame game

iii. Remember that verbal and nonverbal communication matters

iv. Never blindside a coworker, boss or reporting staff member

v. Keep your commitments

vi. Share credit for accomplishments, ideas and contributions

vii. Help other employees find their greatness

b. Dealing with Difficult Coworkers. Conflict is bound to show itself at some time and you don’t get to choose who you work with. Use these ideas to deal with difficult coworkers.

i. Clarify what’s in conflict

ii. Find common goals

iii. Don’t take things personally

iv. Stick to the issues at hand

v. Be polite, but not patronizing

vi. Do not become emotional

c. Customer Service Skills. In the majority of jobs, you will have to deal with customers. Here are a few ideas for better communicating with customers.

i. Consider your audience

ii. Don’t speak techno-lingo

iii. Use good listening skills

iv. Respond to the customers statements

v. Remember common courtesy

d. Developing Dynamic Presentation Skills. Sometimes communicating has nothing to do with conversation skills but with presentation skills. Many companies require employees to give some type of presentation. If you have a few tricks up your sleeve, you can overcome your nerves and give a dynamic presentation.

i. Take a minute to regulate your breathing, just before you have to take the floor

ii. Begin by greeting your crowd

iii. Stay in motion

iv. Make eye-contact

v. Avoid fillers

vi. Vary your voice inflection

vii. Modulate your speed

viii. Have fun with it

Connecting the Dots

Effective communication creates a feeling of community and intimacy where everyone’s contributions are valued. The stronger skill set you have, the greater success you will have in your personal, educational and professional life.