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COMMUNICATION NOTES


 


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INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

 

"What we've got here is failure to communicate."

-STROTHER MARTIN / Cool Hand Luke

 

"Communication is the transfer of information and understanding from one person to another person. It is a way of reaching others with ideas, facts, thoughts, feelings, and values. It is a bridge of meaning among people so that they can share what they feel and know. By using this bridge, a person can safely cross the river of misunderstanding that sometimes separates people."

-DAVIS & NEWSTROM / Human Behavior at Work

 

"Communication is the sending and receiving of messages. So vital is communication that it has been described as the glue that holds families and organizations together. To be successful in work or personal life, you usually have to be a good communicator. You can't make friends or stand up against your enemies unless you can communicate with them. And you can't accomplish work with or through others unless you can send and receive messages effectively."

-ANDREW DuBRIN / Human Relations for Career & Personal Success

 

COMMUNICATION AT WORK

 

"Organizations cannot exist without communication. If there is no communication, employees cannot know what their co-workers are doing, management cannot receive information inputs, and supervisors cannot give instructions. Coordination of work is impossible, and the organization will collapse for lack of it. Cooperation also becomes impossible, because people cannot communicate their needs and feelings to others. We can say with confidence that every act of communication influences the organization in some way. When communication is effective, it tends to encourage better performance and job satisfaction. People understand their jobs better and feel more involved in them."

-DAVIS & NEWSTROM / Human Behavior at Work

 

TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION

 

"Speech communication is a game between talker and listener against the forces of confusion."

-NORBERT WIENER

 

"A significant point about communication is that it always involves at least two people -- a sender and a receiver. One person alone cannot communicate. It takes one or more receivers to complete the communication act. The relationship is not always obvious to managers who send out bulletins to employees. They tend to think that when their bulletins are sent, they have communicated. But transmission of the message is only a beginning. A manager may send a hundred bulletins, but there is no communication until each bulletin is received, read, and understood. Communication is what the receiver understands, not what the sender says."

-DAVIS & NEWSTROM / Human Behavior at Work

 

"The most stubborn barrier in nature is between one person's thoughts and another's."

-WILLIAM JAMES

 

"The two-way communication process is the method by which a sender reaches a receiver with a message. Two-way communication, made possible by feedback, has a back-and-forth pattern similar to that observed in watching tennis from courtside. In two-way communication, the speaker sends a message and the receiver's responses come back to the speaker."

-DAVIS & NEWSTROM / Human Behavior at Work

 

"Effective communication is a two-way activity. An exchange of information or a transaction takes place between two people. Person A may send messages to person B to initiate communication, but B must react to A to complete the communication loop."

-ANDREW DuBRIN / Human Relations for Career & Personal Success

 

GOOD COMMUNICATION IS…

 

Goal Oriented

Clear and Understandable

Conveys Respect for the Listener

Open and Allows for Response

Uses Emotions with Consistency

Avoids Games and Hidden Agendas

Seeks Mutual Understanding

Takes Ownership by Using "I" Statements

Avoids Assumptions

 

HARSHMAN & PHILLIPS / Team Training

 


LISTENING SKILLS

 

"To listen is to make a conscious effort to hear . . . to attend closely."

-WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY

 

"Nature provided you with two ears but only one mouth. Are you listening twice as often as you are talking?"

-KEVIN MURPHY

 

"Listening is an essential skill for making and keeping relationships. If you are a good listener, you'll notice that others are drawn to you. Success comes a little easier because you hear and understand people. People who don't listen are bores. They give the message: What you have to say doesn't matter much to me. They aren't fun to talk to because the other person never feels satisfied that he or she has been heard. It's dangerous not to listen. You miss important information and you don't see problems coming."

-McKAY, DAVIS, & FANNING / How To Communicate

  

"You're not listening often really means  you don't understand what I said  in the way that I meant it,  or  I'm not getting the response I wanted.   Being listened to can become a metaphor for being understood and being valued."

-DEBORAH TANNEN / You Just Don't Understand

 

"Listening is a commitment and a compliment. It's a commitment to understanding how other people feel, how they see their world. It means putting aside your own prejudices and beliefs, your anxieties and self-interest, so that you can step behind the other person's eyes. You try to look at things from his or her perspective. Listening is a compliment because it says to the other person: I care about what's happening to you, your life and your experience are important. People usually respond to the compliment of listening by liking and appreciating you."

-McKAY, DAVIS, & FANNING / How To Communicate

 

"Don't let the lines of communication get tangled up in your need to talk too much, too often.  The more you talk, the less you listen, and the more you talk, the less others will listen."

-KEVIN J. MURPHY

 

"Hearing is done with the ears, but listening requires use of the mind. Effective listening helps receivers get exactly the idea a sender intended. They then can make better decisions because their information inputs are better. Good listeners also save time because they learn more within a given period of time; and they learn about the person talking, as well as what the person is saying. Good listening is also good social manners; managers, peers, and subordinates think more of us when we listen to them attentively. Finally, our good listening encourages others to respond by listening to what we have to say."

-DAVIS & NEWSTROM / Human Behavior at Work

  

ACTIVE LISTENING


"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

-STEPHEN R. COVEY

 

To be an effective listener, you must listen actively, listen with empathy, listen with openness, and listen with awareness. Be committed to understanding what is being said."

-McKAY, DAVIS, & FANNING / How To Communicate

 

"Effective communication involves listening as well as talking.  Listening is not passive.  Listening involves activity.  The speaker is actively sending a message, while the listener is actively receiving and responding to that message. Listening requires involvement, attentiveness, alertness and energy.  Listening requires deliberate action on the part of the listener."

-MICHAEL LEBEAU

 

"Practice the management of listening by being responsive, listening purposively, controlling your attention, and being objective."

-MILTON DICKENS

"To say the right thing at the right time, keep still most of the time."

-JOHN W. ROPER

 

"Most of us are lazy listeners most of the time, partly because we never thought that listening  (like reading, writing and speaking)  is a skill that can be improved by guided practice.  The most used and least understood of the major skills of human communication is listening."

-MILTON DICKENS

 

"Listening is an active process that requires your participation. To fully understand the meaning of a communication, you usually have to ask questions and give feedback. Then, in the give and take that follows, you get a fuller appreciation of what's being said. You have gone beyond passively absorbing, you are a collaborator in the communication process."

-McKAY, DAVIS, & FANNING / How To Communicate

 

PERCEPTION

 

"Interpersonal perception is the process by which a person discerns the overt (surface) and covert (underlying) behavior of another.  Surface feelings are obvious from the words used and the way they are stated. They are clearly related to the situation. Underlying feelings are inferred and interpreted by reading between the lines. They are more abstract, and may not be directly related to the situation. Good communicators learn to detect particular cues or clues in a situation.  To be interpersonally effective one must be able to perceive the behavior of others accurately. Effective communicators will observe the non-verbal behaviors of the person with whom they are communicating. These observations contribute to better understanding of the other person.  They add to the perceptions of the person and the situation."

-GAZDA & COMPANY / Human Relations Development

 

BLOCKS TO LISTENING

 

Comparing

Comparing makes it hard to listen because you're always trying to assess who is smarter, more competent, more emotionally healthy, more articulate.  Some people focus on who has suffered more, who's a bigger victim.

 

Mind Reading

The mind reader doesn't pay much attention to what people say. He's too busy trying to figure out what the other person is really thinking and feeling. The mind reader pays less attention to words than to intonations and subtle cues.

 

Rehearsing

You don't have time to listen when you're rehearsing what to say. Your whole attention is on the preparation and crafting of your next comment. You're waiting your turn rather than actually listening.

Filtering

When you filter, you listen to some things and not to others. You listen just enough to determine whether or not the details are compelling, then you let your thoughts wander.

 

Judging

When you prejudge someone, you don't pay much attention to what they say. You've already written them off. Hastily judging a statement as stupid or immoral or crazy means you've ceased to listen and have begun to simply react.

 

Daydreaming

You're half-listening and something the person says suddenly reminds you of something else. Your mind wanders through a chain of associated thoughts unrelated to the speaker's message.

 

Identifying

When you are identifying, you take everything a person tells you and refer it back to your own experience. You launch into a story before they finish theirs. Everything you hear reminds you of something that you've felt, done, or suffered.

 

Advising

As an advisor, you are a problem-solver, ready to offer suggestions. You don't have to hear more than a few sentences before you begin dispensing advice. You didn't hear or acknowledge the other person's feelings.

 

Sparring

Rather than listen, you argue and debate. You focus on finding things to disagree with. Using subtle putdowns and sarcasm, you dismiss the other person's point of view.

 

Being Right

You can't listen to criticism, you can't be corrected, and you can't take suggestions. So, you twist facts, start shouting, make excuses, or issue accusations. You will go to any lengths to avoid being wrong.

 

Derailing

Derailing is accomplished by suddenly changing the subject. You divert the conversation when you get bored or uncomfortable with the topic. Or you might respond with a joke in order to avoid discomfort or anxiety.

 

Placating

You want to be nice, pleasant, and supportive. You want people to like you. So, you agree with everything. Only half-listening, your responses are shallow and insincere.

 

(McKAY, DAVIS, & FANNING / How To Communicate)

 


DISCOUNTING OTHERS

 

"Sometimes we display behaviors and attitudes that create negative feelings. We may act with indifference or in a manner that causes others to feel frustrated and defensive. In seeking to improve our communication skills, we need to be aware of those instances when our behavior causes uncomfortable feelings and unproductive responses. Sometimes, instead of fostering positive interactive experiences, we may be guilty of discounting others with whom we are interacting.  What is discounting? Discounting is what happens when we dismiss, demean, ignore, or minimize a person.  Discounting is a lack of attention or negative attention that hurts someone else. We discount others with sarcasm (cutting remarks, critical comments, insulting tone of voice), impatience (uneasiness, restlessness, intolerance), avoidance (shifting responsibility, assigning blame), and superiority (snobbishness, arrogance, domineering, patronizing). Discounting, either intentionally or unintentionally, is a sure way to make a person angry. When we take people's problems seriously and don't make judgments as to the size, solvability or extent of the problem, we are indicating to them that we respect and accept their frame of reference."

-MICHAEL LEBEAU

 

"The worst sin towards our fellowmen is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity."

-GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

 

POSITIVE INTERACTION

 

"Effective communication is about producing positive interactive experiences.  Learning the words, the attitudes and the motivations of certain behaviors will help you understand others. Note other people's body language, their voice tones, their facial expressions and the words they use. These clues combine to form specific behaviors that have a potential for causing discomfort or conflict for you. Effective communication is about our reactions and responses.  It demonstrates effective ways to deal with our co-workers and ourselves. People who use effective communication techniques at work tend to get along better with family and friends as well.  Effective communication skills will help you achieve the best possible results for you and your co-workers."

-MICHAEL LEBEAU

 

"What makes us human is the way we interact with other people. To the extent that our relationships reflect kindness, consideration, concern, compassion, cooperation, and responsiveness, we become more human. In humanizing relationships, individuals are sympathetic and responsive to human needs. They invest each other with the character of humanity, and they treat and regard each other as human. In a dehumanizing relationship, people are divested of those qualities that are uniquely human and are turned into machines and objects, in the sense that they are treated in impersonal ways that reflect unconcern with human values."

-DAVID JOHNSON / Reaching Out

 


FACILITATIVE SKILLS

 

“Mankind's supreme achievement in the world is communication from personality to personality."

-KARL JASPERS

 

"To be facilitative in relationships and interactions means fostering an atmosphere of trust, understanding and affirmation.  An effective facilitator does this by establishing good rapport with the other person and by letting the other person tell his/her story.  Within this supportive and nonthreatening environment, meaningful communication takes place, whereby feelings and emotions are accurately and appropriately reflected.  By effectively demonstrating empathy, respect and concern, the facilitator provides a safe setting in which the other person feels accepted and free to express himself/herself in any manner.  The goal is to allow the other person to fully explore the concerns he/she has."

-GAZDA & COMPANY / Human Relations Development 

 

"An effective facilitator understands the importance of encouraging the other person to completely communicate his/her thoughts and feelings and to fully explore the range of emotions associated with the concerns at hand.  By letting the other person express his/her feelings, the facilitator is able to promote a certain cathartic release.  The other person needs to tell his/her story, (voice a complaint, vent frustration, express anger) and the facilitator needs to listen actively and attentively."

-GAZDA & COMPANY / Human Relations Development

 

"Facilitative responding is a way of demonstrating to other people that you are truly listening, that they have your full attention, and that you are attempting to understand what they wish you to understand about them."

-GAZDA & COMPANY / Human Relations Development

 


RESPECT


"To be disrespectful is to be ineffective as a communicator. An effective communicator cannot express respect to the other person if he/she fails to demonstrate a sense of acceptance and affirmation.  A person cannot communicate respect if he/she attempts to impose his/her beliefs and values on the other person.  Nor can respect be communicated if one dominates the conversation or devalues the other person. To show respect is to listen in a nonjudgmental way.  To show respect is to be open to involvement with the other person and to be willing to make sacrifices and take risks in order to further the relationship."

-GAZDA & COMPANY / Human Relations Development

 

"To be respectful is to feel or show deferential regard for.  To avoid violation or interference with.  Regard with honor or esteem.  Willingness to show consideration or appreciation. Submission or courteous yielding to the opinions, wishes or judgment of another."

-AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY

 


HAVE A HEART

 

By Bracey, Rosenblum, Sanford & Trueblood

 

Constructive feedback works best when team members are communicating from the heart. If your team members could tell you how they would like to be approached, they might make the following suggestions based on this acronym:

 

H         Hear and understand me.

E         Even if we disagree, please don't make me wrong.

A         Acknowledge the excellence within me.

R         Remember to look for my positive intentions.

T         Tell me the truth with compassion.

 

 

Hear and understand me.

It is crucially important for people to feel fully listened to and understood. When they feel this way, they will then be ready to hear what you have to say.

 

Even if we disagree, please don't make me wrong.

Nobody likes to have his or her worth as a person questioned. People always resent it, and if they don't get mad, they get even.

 

Acknowledge the excellence within me.

Everyone has the potential to grow, and people will tend to respond positively to anyone who addresses their potential greatness, even if no current evidence of it has yet surfaced.

 

Remember to look for my positive intentions.

When someone proposes an idea or plan, no matter what you think of the plan itself, you explicitly acknowledge that the person has positive reasons for making the proposal.

 

Tell me the truth with compassion.

Talk to people rather than about them, and do it in a respectful and caring, rather than a disdainful or condescending way.

 

 


ALABAMA COUNSELING ASSOCIATION   n   Leadership Handbook