Chapter 10

Building Effective Communication Skills


•             The transfer of information among individuals.

–         Speaking

–         Writing

–         Reading

–         Listening

The process of interpersonal communication

•             Interpersonal communication: an interactional process whereby one person sends a message to another

•             At least two people must be involved

•             It is a process

•             The process is interactional (i.e., not one-way)


•             Senders encode ideas into message; receivers decode message into ideas

•             Primary means of sending messages is language

•             Channel: the sensory channel through which message reaches receiver

•             Noise: any stimulus that interferes with accurately expressing or understanding a message


•             Context: the environment in which communication takes place

•             The importance of communication

•             An essential aspect of everyday life

•             Quality of communication can affect satisfaction in marriage


•             Nonverbal communication: transmission of meaning from one person to another through means or symbols other than words


•             General principles of nonverbal communication

•             Multi-channeled

•             Frequently conveys emotions

•             Is relatively ambiguous




•             May contradict verbal messages

•             Is culture-bound

Interpersonal Communication

Universal Emotions

•             You open the door and the Prize Patrol is outside.  You have just won the $20 million dollar Publisher's Clearinghouse Award.  You are HAPPY!

•             You go to the cafeteria for lunch and are about to bite into your salad when you see a huge hard-backed cockroach crawling in the lettuce…..antennae waving.  You are DISGUSTED!

•             You find out that your pet cat of 19 years was run over by a Mack truck.  You are SAD!


Universal Emotions

•             You find out that your girlfriend/boyfriend is sleeping with your best friend.  You are ANGRY!

•             You are walking across campus at 2 A.M.  You hear footsteps and heavy breathing right behind you.  You are AFRAID!

•             You find out that you and your instructor are long lost cousins.  You are SURPRISED! (Hopefully not disgusted or saddened!).





•             Paul Ekman and colleagues have identified six emotions associated with distinctive facial expressions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise

•             Some facial expressions are universally recognized but many expressions vary from culture to culture

•             Display rules: norms that govern the appropriate display of emotions


•             People can regulate facial expressions to deceive others

•             Eye contact

•             Duration of eye contact is most meaningful

•             High levels of eye contact associated with attentiveness



•             High levels also associated with effective social skills, credibility

•             Gaze is means of communicating intensity of feelings, but not positive or negative emotion

•             Culture affects patterns of eye contact

•             Gender and racial differences have been found in United States

Listening vs. Hearing

•             Hearing is passive, listening is active, intentional, chosen, and requires internal and external behaviors to receive messages accurately.


•             At work we spend about 60% of our time listening.

Why do we receive so little training in listening skills?


•             After hearing a ten minute presentation listeners retain about half what was said.

•             After 2 days, another half is forgotten.

•             College students: 20% having erotic thoughts, 20% reminiscing, 20% paying attention to the lecture, only 12% of those actively listening.

Listening Skills

•             Intentions that promote good listening:

•             To Understand Someone

•             To Enjoy Someone

•             To Learn Something

•             To Give Help or Solace


This occurs when some other intention is being satisfied:

•             Pretending to listen to make people think you are interested in them so you will be liked.

•             Being vigilant for signs of potential rejection.

•             Listening for one thing and ignoring others.


4. Focusing on your rebuttal or the next thing you want to say.

5. Pretending to listen so someone will listen to you.

6. Listening to uncover vulnerabilities to gain an advantage.

7. Looking for weak points in the speaker’s reasoning so you can come out on top.


8. Checking only to see how the speaker is reacting to make sure you produce the desired effect.

9. Half-listening because that is what a nice person should do.

10. Pretending to listen to be polite.

Blocks to Effective Listening

•             Judging – defining things as good or bad.

•             Mind Reading – your assumptions  

•             Stereotyping – your widespread generalizations

•             Interrupting – Interrupts flow

•             Comparing – listening to make comparisons



•             Advising – finding advice for the speaker

•             Rehearsing – reviewing what to say next

•             Stage-Hogging – listen to change focus back to yourself

•             Filtering – listening to what you want to hear and ignoring the rest

•             Dueling – arguing for the sake of arguing


•             Derailing – distracting to never reach a conclusion

•             Daydreaming – being caught up in your own fantasies

•             Placating – overinvestment in being nice and ignoring your won feelings

•             Hidden Agendas – an unacknowledged goal in the conversation

•             Overreacting – becoming overemotional about a particular word or statement that offends one

Building Blocks of Effective Listening

•             ACTIVE LISTENING

–         Paraphrasing – stating in your own words what someone has just said

•         It sounds like you are saying…

•         As I understand you…

•         What I hear you saying is…

•         From your point of view…


•             Clarifying – asking questions to help you understand the speaker’s message

      I’m confused, could you explain that further?

      Let me be sure I understand you…

      Could you repeat that?

      What is that supposed to mean? Idiot!!





•             Feedback – sharing your reactions to what you heard.  It should be:

          1. Immediate

          2. Honest

          3. Supportive

Ex. “ I get the feeling you are not telling everything here.” instead of, “You’re lying.” or “You’re holdin gout on me.”


Empathic Listening

•             Listening not just to the words, but trying to understand what the other person is feeling and thinking.  Getting inside the other person’s frame of reference.

•             Paraphrasing the speaker’s feelings, attitudes and emotions.


•             Empathic listening often communicates that you value the other person and their experience.

–         I sense you are feeling…

–         You feel…

–         You seem…


•             Good listeners listen with their eyes as well as their ears, paying attention to non-verbal communication as well as verbal. When non-verbals do not match verbal meaning we get incongruent communication and double messages.


•             The way something is said, rather than what is said. (38% impact)

–         Tone and pitch of voice

–         Vocal inflections

–         Emphasis on certain words

–         Length and frequency of pauses


•             The other 55% is communicated by facial expressions, bodily movements and gestures, duration of eye contact, and posture.

Personal space: a zone of space surrounding a person that is felt to "belong" to that person

•             Proxemics: the study of people's use of interpersonal space

•             Other animals show similar tendency, called territoriality

•             Size of personal space depends on nature of relationship and type of situation

•             Distance is regulated by social norms; varies by culture


•             The use of interpersonal space tells us about the nature of the relationship.

•             Women seem to have smaller personal spaces than men

•             People of similar status tend to stand closer together

•             Invasions of space elicit variety of reactions

Detecting Deception

•             Signs of autonomic nervous system arousal.

–         Increased/irregular respiration, pupil dilation, blushing, increased frequency of swallowing and blinking.  What do they really indicate?


•             Body movements

–         People tend to gesture less when lying, covering or touching the nose or mouth when speaking.


•             Speech patterns

–         Liars give evasive or indirect answers, overly detailed or complicated explanations or defensive tirades.  More slips of the tongue occur and more pause words like ah, um, uh.

Rules for Effective Non-Verbal Communication

•             Maintain good eye contact, but do not stare.

•             Use your body language to communicate interest.

•             Speak clearly and modulate your voice.


•             Use touch appropriately for your culture.

•             Respect the personal space of other people.

Non-verbal Behavior for Effective Listening

•             Maintain good eye contact.

•             Lean forward slightly.

•             Nodding or saying, “Uh huh,” to indicate that you are listening.

•             Keep your arms open.