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Managerial Communication: Module: 2 Basic Communication Skills:
Listening Skills: Listening in your career
Hey, listen up! Want to really accelerate and sustain your career success? Then you've got to be a highly
effective listener. As a leader, listening skills are more important than your speaking skills. No question.
Here are ten ways which can help you become a better listener:
Listen for ideas and central themes
Search for the speaker's central theme or main points instead of getting lost in, or reacting to, the supportive
Judge content, not delivery
Focus, to your best ability, on what the speaker is saying and try not to be unduly influenced by their way of
saying or delivering the message.
Search for areas of interest
It is extremely easy to tune out from a speaker, so work on sharing his or her enthusiasm. Search for new
ideas or insights which might be beneficial to you.
Don't jump to conclusions
It's easy to assume that you know the rest of a sentence or message after hearing the beginning. Avoid
prejudging a message, so you can receive and evaluate the whole message.
By taking notes you sharpen your reception, understanding, and, of course, retention of the information.
Concentrate and resist distraction
External distractions include non-related things you can see or hear which may be impacting your other
senses. Internal distractions occur when your mind wanders into unrelated memories or shifts its focus to
worries, plans, or anticipations. Stay focused.
Use the fast pace of thought to your advantage
Most people can think three or four times faster than they speak. Don't let your quick mind indulge in all
sorts of thoughts unrelated to the conversation. Capitalize on your thinking speed by actively sensing,
interpreting, evaluating, and summarizing the messages being received.
Check your emotions
It has been said that the intellect is the slave to emotions. Be sensitive to things that trigger your emotions
and increase your efforts to focus on a clear reception and understanding of what is being said.
Exercise your mind
You can turn away and tune out from complicated or difficult subjects, or you can intellectually wrestle with
complex information so that you will have a chance to grow and strengthen your own intellect.
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Work at listening
Be an active listener. Ask questions and seek clarification. Actively share in the speaker's efforts to improve
your level of understanding, whether or not you think you agree.
Benefits of good listening:
Most people want to be heard, but paradoxically very few people are good at listening. Learning to listen
offers benefits both on and off the job.
We‟ve all learned about the importance of polished and professionalspeaking skills, but what about listening
skills? Why do so many people crave the company of a good listener?
Simply put, because most people are terrible at listening. People tend to spend more time evaluating what
the speaker is saying or mentally composing their responses than they do actually listening.
The fact that so few people are good listeners means that people who do possess this rare skill set have some
Here are six:
Benefit of Listening: Respect
When you listen with full attention, you are communicating respect. By offering speakers respect, you gain
Benefit of Listening: Airtime
If you listen first, others are more likely to return the favour. There will always be people who, because of
stress, self-absorption or other reasons, will use another person's ear and not return the favour. Nevertheless,
the great majority of individuals understand there should be give and take in conversation.
Benefit of Listening: Information
Attentive listening helps you learn more about other people. Knowing more about people is helpful in
your professional life as well as personal life. Imagine the benefits when you understand your boss,
colleagues, customers, spouse, friends, and family members better.
Benefit of Listening: Increased Likability
Even people who aren‟t shameless narcissists crave attention. People like people who listen. You may also
find that as you listen to people more, you like them more.
Benefit of Listening: Better Relationships
Listening creates a feeling of goodwill in intimate and professional relationships. Improve your relationships
by listening non-judgmentally to the concerns and problems of others. The more you listen without
judgment, the more freedom speakers have to find their own solutions to problems.
Benefit of Listening: Greater Clarity
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Careful listening helps you avoid some of the confusion, misunderstandings and conflicts that are common
in conversations. Careful listening offers an opportunity to circumvent the usual arguments and conversation
The benefits of listening are interdependent and synergistic – the more you reap one benefit of good
listening, the more listening you will do, and the more the other benefits will start to pile up. As with most
other social skills, to master listening, practice is required. Luckily, the world is full of people who feel
unheard and like no one is paying attention.
To better understand the importance of having greatlistening skills, it is necessary to take into consideration
the multiple advantages that can derive from it, in the workplace and by extension in the classroom.
1-In the workplace
a) Employee’s perspective For the employee, listening: Expands capacity and knowledge
Great listening skills make an employee more competent and capable, regardless of his position. The more
an individual can get information out of the meetings, the instructions, and reports provided to him, the more
efficient and successful he will at completing his tasks. By listening effectively, he s able to grasp the t
exact information he needs in order to execute his work without committing regrettable mistakes. Also as a
result, listening enriches know-how and knowledge and helps fulfilling job requirements through
-Intensifies successful conversation Another advantage of effective listening for an employee is that he
becomes a better team player. If employees take the time to listen to each other, to their suggestions,
warnings, advice and informational inputs, it allows them and the departments they work in to coordinate
better, to avoid misunderstandings, and build profitable relationships among workers. Furthermore,
effective listening reduces risks of inter-personal conflicts in a workplace creates an environment of peace,
respect which facilitates enduring success for the whole enterprise
-Saves time and money Effective listening not only reduces risks of misunderstanding and mistakes that
could be very damaging to the business, it saves time and money for all departments forming a collaborative
workforce. How? … by avoiding the trouble and inconvenience of starting a task or a project over again,
just because the directives given were misunderstood. Employees do not waste precious time and a specific
budget allocated to a specific project, given that time and money are the two most important resources in
b) Leader/boss’s perspective For a manager, listening:
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- Helps detects and solve problems quickly As a leader, an entrepreneur should always be attentive to
what employees have to say, whether it concerns the mechanism, the processes or the project of a business
platform. In the workplace, they are the first ones to spot flaws and come up with suggestions for
amelioration. It is up the manager to grasp and distinguish necessary and useful information to take the
actions needed. In the same perspective, with “good ears”, he‟s able to make better decisions and to discover
more about all aspects of the company.
-Confers respect and trust By listening to staff members, a leader shows great respect and care to them. As
a result, he gains the trust and esteem of workers and achieve referent power as mentioned by French & in
Raven in the article “the bases of social power”. As an appreciated leader, he gets people to open up and is
able to collect useful information about them and their capabilities.
- Enhances motivation and encouragement Listening gives a leader the power and ability to encourage
and motivate employees. Moreover, a boss who listens stimulates his subordinates in reaching their maximal
potential and at the same time a maximum success. This is way to inspire a level of commitment in people
and the feeling of membership. Sometimes, it only take for a boss to listen to someone and give feedback
showing understanding , for the same person to feel he‟s part of a group, to find the encourage to overcome
some difficulties he might find at work.
- Allows better negotiations terms and resistance overcoming A leader also assumes the role of a
negotiator and often faces problematic situations in negotiations: When the parties are more focusing on
imposing their ideas and getting approval for their suggestions and propositions, they miss important
information such as the underlying demands and offer of each group. The meeting can continue on for the
interlocutors to realize at the end that they did not manage to come to an agreement. Knowing how to listen
effectively keeps negotiators from committing these types of errors and capture useful information that will
be able to use against the opponent and bend his offer at their benefit.
c) Customer’s perspective For the relations customers have with the company, listening:
-Strengthen customer relationships and facilitates products and services improvement
By putting in place a system to collect customers‟ feedback on the usage of a product or a service, the
company let the consumers know that their opinion matters and gain their loyalty. Furthermore, the
suggestions, critics and experience are used to ameliorate the products and services and innovate.
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2-In the classroom A student listening in class ( image taken
a) Student’ perspective Overall, effective listening contribute to the student‟s progress and the immediate
and observable advantages are that it : -Enriches knowledge
-Allows to sort, select and retain essential information
For more information about the subject, click here.
b) Teacher’ perspective As for the teacher who has the responsibility of guiding instructing students, when
he listens he s able to: - Uncover areas of misunderstanding and flaws, in which students with whom
students struggle more
- Improve teaching skills because the instructor learns to what method students respond better.
Problems with ineffective listening:
1. Others will become wary if you don't have the ability to listen
2. Perceived as less intelligent
3. Wasted time
4. Repeating messages is time-consuming
5. Energy can be spent on more important tasks
6. Businesses can lose money on behalf of employees' poor listening skills (i.e.; flight) Poor Listening
7. Effective listening is a staple of reaching one's goal
8. By concentrating, you avoid repeating a question already asked
9. Listening can lead to opportunities
10. Take ADVANTAGE Poor Listening Limits Your Chances for Success Pseudolistening: faking
attention Don't engage in pseudolistening!
Ineffective listening causes misunderstandings, mistakes and problems, which can be not only dangerous but
also fatal because:
without listening we take away information from ourselves, that is needed for an appropriate
response to a persons message;
we increase the probability of mistakes by not fully understanding what the individual wants to say;
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we are running the risk of appearing ill-mannered, because we interrupt the conversation;
we are wasting time by returning to restore the information we consciously or unconsciously didn't
we entangle our interlocutor into unnecessary discussions , by making them answer our inaccurate or
we are slowing down the pace of the conversation: it is decreasing because of distorted information,
many misunderstandings, or because of the interlocutors attempts to fight with the other person's
poor listening and similar.
Hearing versus listening
What is hearing?
Hearing is an action in which, just the sound is perceived by the ear, and it requires no or very little
concentration. Very little or no effort is required as your mind is occupied in other thoughts or perhaps you
are engaged in a different task while the other person is sharing his or her thoughts with you. Words spoken
are just heard. This is a passive process.
What is listening?
Listening is an action where you choose to actively concentrate on what you hear and your brain processes
the information into knowledge. You need to put in a lot of effort in terms of attention, processing, thinking,
analysing and concentrating. You do not think about anything else, or get engaged in any other tasks, but
you sit down and listen to what the speaker is saying, word by word. You look into the feeling and meaning
of what is being said. Words spoken are listened to and processed. This is an active process.
Difference between hearing and listening:
We always hear something around us all the time and it is just a physical ability. For example, while you are
at home, you might hear the sound of other people talking, sound of cooking in the kitchen, sound of
television, and sound of anything that is happening around. While you are at work, depending on where you
work, you hear the sound of various things around you. While on the road you hear the sound of traffic and
any events in the public, the people laughing, talking, shouting etc. And, at the end of the day, after you go
to bed and fall asleep, you hear sounds even while you sleep. All these happen around you and you do not
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necessarily see the incidents. It is just sound waves reaching your ears. Hearing is an alarm system which
operates even outside of the line of sight.
This also applies to music. Nowadays music is played everywhere, in shopping malls, in restaurants, in
supermarkets, in offices and everywhere. It puts people in a situation where they just hear this music as
every other noise around them. Not all of us listen to that music and acquire anything from it. People lose
the chance of acquiring any skills from it and in a way it devalues music. Most people use music to just fill
the silence while they are doing other tasks.
When you need to listen, you need to pay attention, because you need to interpret and respond in the end.
Listening is a skill which is diminishing and this can be due to advancement in digital technology, not
wanting to concentrate or too much of information to handle. Listening is a skill that can be improved with a
little bit of hard work, dedication and determination. Everywhere and in every relationship we come across
this complaining phrase quite often, “You never listen” or “You do not want to listen”. As Ernest
Hemingway quotes, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
A typical example that we come across in our day to day life is, people reading something on the internet
and responding to the speaker / trying to listen to someone, or typing something on the computer, eyes on
the screen and an ear listening to the other person or texting on the mobile and responding to someone who
is talking to you. These are common scenarios we come across in offices and personal lives almost every
day. These behaviours clearly indicate that the listener is behaving in an awful manner, not respecting the
other and indirectly this tells the speaker that they are less important than the work that the listener is doing.
This puts the speaker in an awful situation and makes them feel inferior
Hearing Vs Listening - A Summary
It is a physical ability and not a conscious act It is a skill and is a conscious act (Psychological)
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Is hearing randomly Is listening intentionally and analysing
Everyone hears unless there is a physical disability Not everyone listens
Perceiving sound by the ear
Making an effort to hear and it involves reception,
analysis, interpretation and response
You just hear sound and noise but do not
You understand what is being said or heard
Does not need focus Needs focus and care
Hearing uses only one of the five senses which is
Listening uses hearing, seeing and sometimes the sense
of touch too
Receiving sound vibrations
Observing the behaviour and adding meaning to what
the speaker says
The only similarity between hearing and listening is that you do both with the aid of ears.
Listening is very important when it comes to customer services and other professions where you have to
listen to people at all times, for example doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, counselors journalists,
interviewers, teachers, tutors, advisers etc. Almost all professions require listening skills at some point or
the other. In an office and home environment, we are most of the time around people who want to be
listened. So it is always good to improve your listening skills and be a better listener and a better human.
The way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.
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A process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to
Factors Influencing Perception
· The Perceiver – attitudes, motives, interests, experiences, expectations
· The Target – novelty, motions, sounds, size, background, proximity, similarity
· The Situation – time, work setting, social situation
Assessing others perceptions
Attribution Theory When individuals observe behavior, they attempt to determine whether it is internally
(under the personal control of the individual) or externally (outside causes “force” you to behave a certain
Fundamental Attribution Error The tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and
overestimate the influence of internal factors when making judgments about the behavior of others.
Self-Serving Bias The tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal factors while
putting the blame for failures on external factors.
characteristics of good and bad listeners:
Appreciates all parts of what is being said.
Concentrates / pays attention.
Takes brief notes that are to the point, if needed.
Is open to the ideas presented.
Holds eye contact and has good body posture.
Responds to the speakers' tone and inflections.
Uses eye contact appropriately.
Is attentive and alert to a speaker's verbal and nonverbal behavior.
Is patient and doesn't interrupt (waits for the speaker to finish).
Is responsive, using verbal and nonverbal expressions.
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Asks questions in a no threatening tone.
Paraphrases, restates or summarizes what the speaker says.
Provides constructive (verbal or nonverbal) feedback.
Is empathic (works to understand the speaker).
Shows interest in the speaker as a person.
Demonstrates a caring attitude and is willing to listen.
Doesn't criticize, is nonjudgmental.
Characteristics of a Poor Listener:
Has a wandering mind / gaze.
Show no enthusiasm.
Likes to argue the point.
Takes too many notes thus missing the point.
Is easily distracted.
Interrupts the speaker (is impatient).
Doesn't give eye contact (eyes wander).
Is distracted (fidgeting) and does not pay attention to the speaker.
Is not interested in the speaker (doesn't care; daydreaming).
Gives the speaker little or no (verbal or nonverbal) feedback.
Changes the subject.
Talks too much.
Gives unwanted advice.
Too busy to listen.
Types of listening
Here are six types of listening, starting with basic discrimination of sounds and ending in deep
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Discriminative listening is the most basic type of listening, whereby the difference between difference
sounds is identified. If you cannot hear differences, then you cannot make sense of the meaning that is
expressed by such differences.
We learn to discriminate between sounds within our own language early, and later are unable to
discriminate between the phonemes of other languages. This is one reason why a person from one country
finds it difficult to speak another language perfectly, as they are unable distinguish the subtle sounds that
are required in that language.
Likewise, a person who cannot hear the subtleties of emotional variation in another person's voice will be
less likely to be able to discern the emotions the other person is experiencing.
Listening is a visual as well as auditory act, as we communicate much through body language. We thus also
need to be able to discriminate between muscle and skeletal movements that signify different meanings.
The next step beyond discriminating between different sound and sights is to make sense of them. To
comprehend the meaning requires first having a lexicon of words at our fingertips and also all rules of
grammar and syntax by which we can understand what others are saying.
The same is true, of course, for the visual components of communication, and an understanding of body
language helps us understand what the other person is really meaning.
In communication, some words are more important and some less so, and comprehension often benefits
from extraction of key facts and items from a long spiel.
Comprehension listening is also known as content listening, informative listening and full listening.
Critical listening is listening in order to evaluate and judge, forming opinion about what is being said.
Judgment includes assessing strengths and weaknesses, agreement and approval.
This form of listening requires significant real-time cognitive effort as the listener analyzes what is being
said, relating it to existing knowledge and rules, whilst simultaneously listening to the ongoing words from
Biased listening happens when the person hears only what they want to hear, typically misinterpreting what
the other person says based on the stereotypes and other biases that they have. Such biased listening is often
very evaluative in nature.
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In evaluative listening, or critical listening, we make judgments about what the other person is saying. We
seek to assess the truth of what is being said. We also judge what they say against ourvalues, assessing them
as good or bad, worthy or unworthy.
Evaluative listening is particularly pertinent when the other person is trying to persuade us, perhaps to
change our behavior and maybe even to change our beliefs. Within this, we also discriminate between
subtleties of language and comprehend the inner meaning of what is said. Typically also we weigh up the
pros and cons of an argument, determining whether it makes sense logically as well as whether it is helpful
Evaluative listening is also called critical, judgmental or interpretive listening.
In appreciative listening, we seek certain information which will appreciate, for example that which helps
meet our needs and goals. We use appreciative listening when we are listening to good music, poetry or
maybe even the stirring words of a great leader.
In sympathetic listening we care about the other person and show this concern in the way we pay close
attention and express our sorrow for their ills and happiness at their joys.
When we listen empathetically, we go beyond sympathy to seek a truer understand how others are feeling.
This requires excellent discrimination and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals. When we are
being truly empathetic, we actually feel what they are feeling.
In order to get others to expose these deep parts of themselves to us, we also need to demonstrate our
empathy in our demeanor towards them, asking sensitively and in a way that encourages self-disclosure.
In therapeutic listening, the listener has a purpose of not only empathizing with the speaker but also to use
this deep connection in order to help the speaker understand, change or develop in some way.
This not only happens when you go to see a therapist but also in many social situations, where friends and
family seek to both diagnose problems from listening and also to help the speaker cure themselves, perhaps
by some cathartic process. This also happens in work situations, where managers, HR people, trainers and
coaches seek to help employees learn and develop.
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The word 'dialogue' stems from the Greek words 'dia', meaning 'through' and 'logos' meaning 'words'. Thus
dialogic listening mean learning through conversation and an engaged interchange of ideas and information
in which we actively seek to learn more about the person and how they think.
Dialogic listening is sometimes known as 'relational listening'.
Sometimes the most important factor in listening is in order to develop or sustain a relationship. This is why
lovers talk for hours and attend closely to what each other has to say when the same words from someone
else would seem to be rather boring.
Relationship listening is also important in areas such as negotiation and sales, where it is helpful if the other
person likes you and trusts you.
Energy - physical and mental
Perhaps all people have two types of energy–mental and physical–and they‟re not interchangeable.
Think about people who are introverted versus extroverted. You can try to force yourself to be your
opposite, but you will be unhappy doing do, and the longer you do it, the more likely you are to end up
Some people have excessive amounts of physical energy. They‟re known as “hyperactive.” Some people
have excessive amounts of mental energy. We tend to be called “lazy.” Most everyone else has a balance
between the two (“average”), although some people have excessive amounts of both (Benjamin
Franklin comes to mind); these people with endless ideas and the energy to accomplish them are called
“geniuses.” (Of course, it‟s possible to be a genius with only one type of energy, but most of the people who
truly become epic and go down in history have huge amounts of both.)
the number of people who have almost unlimited amounts of both physical and mental energy are a rarity
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I define situational knowledge as the knowledge you have for the duration of a project or release, but which
you‟ll probably let fade after six months (or less). Maybe it won‟t fade, but it won‟t be as far to the front of
your brain as newer knowledge you pick up.
Verbal and non verbal skills:
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Oculesics is one form of nonverbal communication, which is the transmission and reception of meaning
between communicators without the use of words. It can include the environment around the
communicators, the physical attributes or characteristics of the communicators, and the behavior of the
The four nonverbal communication cues are spatial, temporal, visual and vocal. Each relates to one or more
forms of nonverbal communication
Chronemics - the study of time
Haptics - the study of touch
Kinesics - the study of movement
Oculesics - the study of eye behavior
Olfactics - the study of scent
Paralanguage - the study of voice communication outside of language
Proxemics - the study of space
the branch of knowledge that deals with the amount of space that people feel it necessary to set between
themselves and others.
Proxemics is a subcategory of the study of nonverbal communication along with haptics (touch), kinesics
(body movement), vocalics (paralanguage), and chronemics (structure of time).
Proxemics can be defined
as "the interrelated observations and theories of man's use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture".
Types of Proxemics
Intimate – 0 to 10 inches – Reserved for close friends and family
Personal – 18 inches to 4 feet – For friends and informal conversation
Social – 4 to 12 feet – An area for formal conversation and business transactions
Public – beyond 12 feet
In the United States, there are four types of “distance” which people use to communicate on a face-to-
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Intimate distance (0-2 ft.)
Personal distance (2-4ft.)
Social distance (4-12 ft.)
Public distance (>12 ft.)
Intimate distance is that which is used for very confidential communications. This zone of distance is
characterized by 0 to 2 feet of space between two individuals. An example of intimate distance is two people
hugging, holding hands, or standing side-by-side. People in intimate distance share a unique level of comfort
with one another. Those who are not comfortable with someone who approaches them in the intimate zone
will experience a great deal of social discomfort or awkwardness.
Personal distance is used for talking with family and close friends. Although it gives a person a little more
space than intimate distance, it is still very close in proximity to that of intimacy, and may involve touching.
Personal distance can range from 2 to 4 feet. Like intimate distance, if a stranger approaches someone in the
personal zone, he or she is likely to feel uncomfortable being in such close proximity with the stranger.
Social distance is used in business transactions, meeting new people and interacting with groups of people.
Social distance has a large range in the distance that it can incorporate. From 4 to 12 feet, it is clear that
social distance depends on the situation. Social distance may be used among students, co-workers, or
acquaintances. Generally, people within social distance do not engage in physical contact with one another.
People may be very particular about the amount of social distance that is preferred. Some people may
require much more physical distance than others. Many times, if a person comes too close to another
individual, the individual is likely to back up and give himself the amount of space that he feels
more comfortable in.
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Public distance is measured at 12 or more feet between persons. An example of this is illustrated in the
following picture, where two men sit far apart on a park bench, in order to preserve their public distance.
Each of the previous types of proximity are heavily influence by people's perception of what the "correct"
type of distance should be in a certain situation.
Culture is one of the factors which contribute to people's perceptions of how proxemics should be used.
People from different cultures have different views on what the proper personal space should be. For further
information, please see the proxemics and culture page to learn more about how culture affects people's
There are four forms of human territory in proxemic theory. They are:
a place where one may freely enter. This type of territory is rarely in the constant control of just one
person. However, people might come to temporarily own areas of public territory.
a place where people congregate informally
a place where people continuously have control over their individual territory
the space immediately surrounding us
These different levels of territory, in addition to factors involving personal space, suggest ways for us to
communicate and produce expectations of appropriate behavior
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The setting in which you try to communicate to a person can play an important role in how effective your
communication is. Things such as outside noise or distractions that take away your audience's attention can
limit the amount of information he actually retains. Obstacles that remove your direct line of vision with a
person or his vision with a visual presentation also can affect the way he retains information.
There are several environmental factors that can enhance or detract from communication. Some of
the barriers to effective communication include echoes, long distance barriers, noise, poor lighting, and
Poor lighting takes away visual cues and body language that many people need, especially people who may
be hard of hearing. Any visual displays cannot be seen well in poor lighting conditions taking even more
away from the communications process. Noise is another environmental factor that adversely effects
communication. The noise can be traffic noise outside an office or place of business which blends into what
is called white noise, or the noise of an annoying co-worker talking on their cell phone to a family member.
Noise is simply anything that can be heard that is distracting and takes attention away from the intended
Long distance can detract from effective communications in that it takes longer for verbal communication to
reach its target and sometimes visual cues and body language are taken out of the equation. Technology has
improved phone service to the public over the past few decades where communication via voice is now
reliable to anywhere in the world, but without visual clues and body language the communication process is
not at an optimum.
Visual noise can refer to anything that is distracting in a visual manner such as traffic going by outside an
office window or a fight between co-workers. Once a person becomes interested in something other than the
person talking to them, the communication process stops.
The key to effective communications is to recognize and eliminate all or as much of these environmental
factors that take away from the communications process. While there may be some factors that you cannot
control, the fact is there are many of them you can and should eliminate.
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Defn: the ability to use the language correctly and appropriately to accomplish communication goals.
Communicative competence is made up of four competence areas: linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and
Linguistic competence is knowing how to use the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of a language.
Linguistic competence asks: What words do I use? How do I put them into phrases and sentences?
Sociolinguistic competence is knowing how to use and respond to language appropriately, given the
setting, the topic, and the relationships among the people communicating. Sociolinguistic
competence asks: Which words and phrases fit this setting and this topic? How can I express a
specific attitude (courtesy, authority, friendliness, respect) when I need to? How do I know what
attitude another person is expressing?
Discourse competence is knowing how to interpret the larger context and how to construct longer
stretches of language so that the parts make up a coherent whole. Discourse competence asks: How
are words, phrases and sentences put together to create conversations, speeches, email messages,
Strategic competence is knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns, how to
work around gaps in one‟s knowledge of the language, and how to learn more about the language
and in the context. Strategic competence asks: How do I know when I‟ve misunderstood or when
someone has misunderstood me? What do I say then? How can I express my ideas if I don‟t know
the name of something or the right verb form to use?
In the early stages of language learning, instructors and students may want to keep in mind the goal of
communicative efficiency: That learners should be able to make themselves understood, using their current
proficiency to the fullest. They should try to avoid confusion in the message (due to faulty pronunciation,
grammar, or vocabulary); to avoid offending communication partners (due to socially inappropriate style);
and to use strategies for recognizing and managing communication breakdowns.
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Chronemics studies time usage in nonverbal communication; it states that the way we perceive time is a
powerful communication tool. How we perceive time can be expressed by our punctuality, our willingness
to wait, the speed of our speech, and the amount of time people are willing to listen.
Chronemics is how we perceive time and how it can define the importance of someone or something. Some
people are very important and only have the time to see people through appointments and in that instance,
his time shows how important he is. Timing is very important when either calling in an an appointement or
responding to a letter or e-mail because timing leads to expectations and could possibly influence the
communication that will occur when you are face-to-face. Chronemics varies greatly from culture to culture
and they are based upon monochronic and polychronic. America is a monochronic country which means that
time is viewed as a commodity, it is scheduled, managed, and arracnged. Many spanish speaking cultures
are polychronic which means they do several things at the same time. They will break appointments and
meetings if their family needs them without any guilt or an apology.
Predictable patterns between cultures with differing time systems
Monochronic People Polychronic People
do one thing at a time do many things at once
concentrate on the job are highly distractible and subject to interruptions
take time commitments (deadlines, schedules)
consider an objective to be achieved, if possible
are low-context and need information are high-context and already have information
committed to the job are committed to people and human relationships
adhere religiously to plans change plans often and easily
are concerned about not disturbing others; follow are more concerned with those who are closely related
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rules of privacy and consideration than with privacy
show great respect for private property; seldom
borrow or lend
borrow and lend things often and easily
emphasize promptness base promptness on the relationship
are accustomed to short-term relationships have strong tendency to build lifetime relationships
Jargon: The specialized language of a professional, occupational, or other group, often meaningless to
Jargon is "the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity occupational or social
The philosopherCondillac observed in 1782 that "every science requires a special language
because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he continued, "It
seems that one ought to begin by composing this language, but people begin by speaking and writing, and
the language remains to be composed."
In earlier times, the term jargon would refer to trade languages
used by people who spoke different native tongues to communicate, such as the Chinook Jargon.
In other words, the term covers the language used by people who work in a particular area or who have a
common interest. Much likeslang,
it can develop as a kind of shorthand, to express ideas that are
frequently discussed between members of a group, though it can also be developed deliberately using chosen
terms. A standard term may be given a more precise or unique usage among practitioners of a field. In many
cases this causes a barrier to communication with those not familiar with the language of the field. For
example, bit, byte, and hexadecimal are jargon terms related to computing.
A euphemism is a generally innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive
or suggest something unpleasant.
Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others use bland,
inoffensive, and often misleading terms for things the user wishes to dissimulate or downplay. Euphemisms
are used for dissimulation, to refer to taboo topics (such as disability, sex, excretion, and death) in a polite
way, and to mask profanity.
The opposite of euphemism roughly equates to dysphemism.
Euphemisms may be used to avoid words considered rude, while conveying their meaning: "Kiss my you-
know-what!" instead of the more vulgar, "Kiss my ass/arse"; the expletive sugar to substitute shit. Some
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euphemisms are so commonly used as to be standard usage: "pass away" for "die". Over the centuries
euphemisms have been introduced for "latrine", and themselves replaced as they came to be considered
unacceptable; "toilet", once itself a euphemism, is often euphemised as "bathroom", "restroom", etc.
Euphemisms are used to downplay and conceal unpalatable facts, as "collateral damage" for "civilian
casualties" in a military context, and "redacted" for "censored".
Euphemisms are usually employed to avoid saying anything controversial or indiscreet and can be really
witty and out-and-out comical at times. From classic literature to movies and from boardrooms to drawing
rooms, euphemisms are extensively used everywhere when talking about sex, violence, or any other topics
that is deemed as taboo or inappropriate in the civil society. What's more, euphemisms can make your
dialogues more poetic, add certain amount of sophistication to them and make them sound more proper and
right. Euphemisms are an easy way to express oneself in a nice way without hurting or shocking anyone.
Hope this extensive list of examples on euphemism will help you master the skill of polite conversation
better and make you appear more couth.
Avoiding Racist Language
What is Racism?
Racism is the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race
is superior to others.
Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
Being racist can offend readers
it can also make them feel excluded or 'categorized'
What is Sexism?
prejudice or discrimination based on sex
attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.
Reference to a person's race should only be mentioned if it is relevant to the situation.
Avoid negative stereotypes of different ethnic groups
Respect preferred labels of each ethnic group
Avoiding Sexist Language
Avoid male or female pronouns when referring to groups composed of both men and women
Also try to avoid the use of word combinations such as him and her, his/her, and s/he.
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Do not use gratuitous modifiers when the person practising the profession happens to be a woman.
There are many alternatives to gender-biased language.
Alternatives: humanity, people, human beings
Original: man's achievements
Alternative: human achievements
Alternatives: synthetic, manufactured, machine-made
Original: the common man
Alternatives: the average person, ordinary people
Original: man the stockroom
Alternative: staff the stockroom
Original: nine man-hours
Alternative: nine staff-hours
Paralanguage is nonverbal communication such as your tone, pitch or manner of speaking.
An example of paralanguage is the pitch of your voice.
The set of nonphonemic properties of speech, such as speaking tempo, vocal pitch, and intonational
contours, that can be used to communicate attitudes or other shades of meaning.
You may have heard someone say, 'It's not what he said, it's the way he said it."
Inflection can have an effect on the impact of a message; and while inflection is applied to words, it is a
nonverbal treatment which can completely change the meaning a person would be expected to attach to the
words. Inflections or emphasis applied vocally to a message are known as paralanguage.
Paralanguage sounds just the opposite from the words themselves. Someone may have greeted you with a
"good morning!" but the tone of the words revealed that it was anything but a good morning.
Paralanguage or vocalics is a part of non-verbal communication because it is not related to the content or
verbal message but the other attributes of speaking which include the pitch, the tone, the volume, tempo,
rhythm, articulation, resonance, nasality and even the accent of the speaker collectively known as prosody.
Paralanguage is thus the study of nonverbal cues of the voice. A notable linguist George L. Trager
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developed a classification system to study the vocal cues, which consist of the voice set, voice qualities, and
Voice Set: The voice set is defined as the context in which the speaker is speaking. The factors that
influence this context are taken into account, which include elements like the situation, gender, mood, age or
even a person's cultural background.
The Voice Qualities: The voice quality is defined by factors like volume, pitch, tempo, rhythm, articulation,
resonance, nasality, and accent. These factors actually give each individual a unique 'voice print'.
Vocalization: This factor takes into account three elements: characterizers, qualifiers and segregators.
Characterizes are emotions that are expressed while speaking like smiling, frowning or yawning. A voice
qualifier refers to the style of delivering a message. Vo
Oculesics, a subcategory of kinesics, is the study of eye movement, eye behavior, gaze, and eye-
related nonverbal communication. The specific definition varies depending on whether it applies to the
fields of medicine or social science
Eyes are perhaps the most expressive features on human beings. You can say so much from one look that
you exchange, be it a positive one or a condescending look, the eyes say it all. Oculesics is the study of the
role of eyes in nonverbal communication. Eye contact can indicate a lot of emotions ranging from interest,
attention, and involvement. A simple gaze comprises the actions of looking while talking, while listening, or
even while observing. Other factors that can be studied to correlate them with the purpose of communication
is the timing of one's gaze, frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and even the rate of
Eye contact indicates interest, opennesss, and sometimes even arousal, though aggressive eye contact--or
staring--can be interpreted as a sign of hostility. In addition to this, lack of eye contact also transmits a
message, oftentimes that the listener is bored and/or is not paying attention. It must be noted that culture
plays a role in oculesics, for the necessity of eye contact and the civility it provides in American culture
differs greatly from an Asian culture, for example, where eye contact is often considered rude
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Haptics refers to the study of touching as a tool of nonverbal communication. The various forms of touching
that can be included in non-verbal communication includes handshakes, holding hands, kissing, back
patting, high fives or even brushing an arm. Also someone fidgeting with their own hands, or running their
fingers through their hair is also involuntarily sending a message about their level of involvement and
interest in the communication process and are referred to as "adaptors". The meaning conveyed from a touch
is however highly dependent upon several other factors like the context of the situation or even the
relationship between communicators.
Kinesics is the study of body movement, facial expressions, and gestures. Five kinds of kinesics are used
in our everyday communication. These five are emblems, illustrators, affect displays, regulators and
adaptors. Developed by anthropologist Ray L. Birdwhistell in the 1950s, Kinesics is nothing but the study of
body movements, facial expressions, and gestures. Kinesics studies include the study of following elements:
Posture: Body posture says a lot about a person's degree of attention or involvement, the difference in status
between communicators, and also the level of fondness a person has for the other one. The studies carried
out int the field of kinesics reveal that mirror-image congruent postures, where one person's left side is
parallel to the other's right side, leads to favorable perception of communicators and positive speech. Also, if
a person leans forward or a shows a decrease in the backwards lean, it signifies positive sentiment during
communication. Posture can be studied through various indicators like direction of lean, body orientation,
arm position, and overall body movement.
Gestures: A thumbs up, or a simple wave of the hand says so much. Yes, gestures form an integral part of
non-verbal communication. Gestures allow us to express a variety of emotions and thoughts like contempt,
hostility, approval, affection etc.
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Kinesics is the non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body, or the body as a
whole. All body movements that show what the person is really thinking can be classified as kinesic.
Kinesic communication is one of the obvious forms of non-verbal communication and is the most talked
about but it can also be one of the most confusing because there can be so many different meanings among
different cultures. Some movements could be offensive to other cultures or some movements may just have
no meaning to some and they will not now what you are portraying and there will be confusion. Body
language differs between every culture and therefore is almost impossible to have a worldly known
movement. Kinesics can be broken down into five categories: emblems, illustrators, affect displays,
regulators and adaptors.
Non-verbal messages that have a verbal counterpart. To show you what that means the British use a sign for
victory. That sign is holding up the forefinger and the middle finger to create a V for victory but in the U.S.
we might see that more as a number 2 and in Australia that could be insulting. Making the O sign for “ok”
can also be seen as the number zero meaning that whatever they were trying or doing was worthless. Even
though there are endless meanings and to all the movements of body language we can still identify with
what was intended because a lot of movements are known throughout the world and even though that may
not be their custom they will might understand that it was not intended the way they took it.
Illustrators are used more consistently to illustrate what is being said and the amount of different uses or
meanings they may have are endless. Like in Latin cultures they use illustrators more then they do in Anglo-
Saxon cultures and if you don't use them they consider that a lack of interest and Anglo-Saxon cultures use
illustrators more then Asian cultures. Asian cultures consider using illustrators a lack of intelligence.
Affective Displays are facial movements that show a certain emotional state. The basic displays are
mostly universal because everyone knows them like sadness, happiness, scared but the amount that it is used
can vary drastically from culture to culture. Some may think that if you don't use affective displays then you
lack emotion but that is not true. Take an Italian, they normally show their anger more in situations and a
Japanese person who may show anger just as much. In Italy you can express those displays of emotion but in
Japan you might be expected to not show as many affective displays because of the way their culture is.
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Regulators are non-verbal signs that regulate, modulate and maintain the flow of speech during a
conversation. These can be both kinesic, such as the nodding of a head, as well as nonkinesic, such as eye
movements. Regulators moderate the flow of information, and are frequently used to see if the person they
are talking too has understood the message. Vargas (1986) notes, that black students in the US felt insulted,
because they perceived that they were being talked down to by their white educators. She concluded that
black students made different use of regulators and that therefore the white educators were under the
impression that the black student did not understand what was being said to them. Whereas the white
students would nod an murmur “uh-huh”, black students in the research appeared to nod less perceivably
and use “mhm” as a regulator utterance. Regulators are vital to the flow of information. Therefore a
misinterpreted regulatory non-verbal sign may be highly confusing in international business communication,
and lead to serious problems, such as the problem shown above
Adaptors include postural changes and other movements at a low level of awareness, frequently made to
feel more comfortable or to perform a specific physical function. Because adaptors are usually carried out on
a low level of awareness, they have been hailed as the secret to understanding what your conversation
partner really thinks. Many adaptor movements, such as moving in a chair, may be employed more
frequently to resolve a specific physical situation, rather than being an indicator of „secret thoughts'. So it's
hard to tell whether it's a secret thought or if its just getting physically comfortable. Adaptors as such may
not carry any significant meaning, neither in their own culture nor across cultural boundaries. However,
adaptors may easily be read as emblems across cultural borders, even if not intended. As adaptors are
usually performed with a low level of awareness, such a misinterpretation can be highly significant precisely
because the person performing the adaptor movement may not be aware that he is performing any precise
movement. For example, the showing of the soles of the feet or shoe may be a result of taking up a more
relaxed seating position. However, in many Arabic countries this gesture may be understood as an offensive
Emblems are body movements that substitute for words and phrases. We beckon with are first finger to
mean “come here.” We use an open hand heldup to mean “stop.” However, be wary of emblems; they may
mean something different in a different culture.
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In much of the world today, the thumbs up means, "O.K.", "Right On!", or "I like this movie.” But in Iran,
Afghanistan, Nigeria and parts of Italy and Greece it is an obscene insult, especially when combined with a
sweep of the arms.
The second form of kinesics, illustrators, accompany and reinforce our verbal messages. For example, we
nod our head when we say yes, shake our head when we say no, stroke our stomach when we are hungry,
and shake our fists when we are angry.
Illustrators tend to be more universal than other kinds of body movement. However, they can also be
misinterpreted. Even men and women regard the simple nod differently. Many women may think a man is
agreeing when he nods his head as she speaks, but actually all he is say is “I hear you.” When they get into
a meeting together and she finds him speaking out against her idea, she may be surprised and angry, because
she thought she had his support.
The third kind of kinesics is affect displays. Affect displays are movements of the face and body which
show emotion. Consider how you react when your favorite team scores, or watch your angry teenager slam
the door as she leaves the room, and look at two men threaten each other when they are upset but don‟t dare
to fight openly.
Regulators are the fourth category of kinesics. They control the flow and pace of our communication.
When we start to move away, it is a signal that we want the communication to stop. When we look away or
at the floor it shows we may be disinterested. When we yawn we are bored or maybe just tired.
There is a whole area of study that deals with turntaking, the use of regulators to let someone know when we
want to speak, when we want them to speak, or when we don‟t want to speak. When we want to speak,
maybe we raise a finger or lift our head. When we want to let the other person speak, we pause and look
away. When we don‟t want to speak, we may nod or raise a hand. It‟s a real science, but somehow we learn
all these skills without ever taking a lesson.
The final area of kinesics is adaptors. We use adaptors to relieve tension. We tap the desk, or twist our
hair. We shake our legs or rub our nose. Sometimes these are nervous habits. Others are involuntary ticks.
I found out when I stayed with an uncle that we shared some common adaptors. He covered his mouth with
a finger when he spoke, something I also did, but didn‟t notice my father doing. Yet obviously, I must have
learned it from my father.
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How does it help to know about kinesics? Understanding nonverbal communication can help us
communicate better. We avoid misunderstandings. We are clearer in the meanings we transmit.
What are your main messages? A message is not the same as an advertising slogan or a marketing line; a
message is a simple and clear idea that summarises the essence of your programme or projects. It should
function as a guiding principle for all kinds of communications, from the contents of leaflets, brochures and
websites, but also for media interviews or conversations with your stakeholders.
The main point is that messages must be clear and consistent across all kinds of communications. The best
would is to apply the KISS-rule: Keep it short and simple! Without clear messages, a communication agenda
lacks clarity and focus and your agenda risks becoming diluted. Too many different messages will breed
Start by deciding your programme‟s message – a sentence that states clearly and simply what your
programme is trying to do. Try to avoid too general issues and focus on a specific
achievement/challenge/opportunity. It is recommendable to constantly communicate the messages to your
target groups, for example by including them on your promotional material such as flyers, website, press
releases and so forth.
A good example of European Territorial Cooperation messaging is the INTERACT programme slogan
“Sharing expertise”. Other programmes use different slogans such as “Innovations & Environment, Regions
of Europe Sharing Solutions” (INTERREG IVC)” or “Cooperating more” (Spain – Portugal CBC
programme), or the general recommendation by the European Commission which is “Investing in your
future” Understand the distinction between a request, a demand and a wish. A wish is when we hope
someone might take note of what we ask for. The language used is likely to be non-specific, the tone of
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voice is hopeful, or hopeless, and there is very little commitment to the asking. Often the outcome is not
forthcoming A demand has limited choice. You either do what is demanded, or you don't. There is little
availability for negotiation. People build resentment when they believe there is a demand on them When we
make a request, we are creating choice. For example, if I throw you a tennis ball and I request that you throw
it back to me, what are your options? The request empowers the person that you are making the request to.
They have choices. (Don't make a request unless you want the person to have choices, and you would be
completely satisfied if their response was no)
Making and responding to a request It's important to be polite when you ask for something.You can
make a request by using:
can you ...?
could you ...?
will you ...?
would you mind ...?
Here are some examples of how to make a request..
Could you possibly
open the door for me, please?
would you mind opening the door for me ?
Can you show me your photo album, please?
Will you lend me your book, please?
Could you possibly show me the way to the post office, please?
Would you help me with this exercise, please?
Would you mind lending me your pen, please?
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Responding to request:
Sure here you are.
No, I'm sorry I need it
I'm afraid I can't.
Things to remember about making a request:
1. "Would you mind..." is followed by a gerund (verb+ing)
Example:"Would you mind lending me your book? "
2. The response to the following request:
A: "Would you mind giving me your book? "
"No, I don't mind."(which is a positive response to the request. It means that I accept to lend you my
or "Yes." (which is a negative response to the request. It means that I don't want to lend you my
3. Could is more polite than can.
If you‟re a boss, one of the most important parts of your job is giving directions. Whether you‟re training,
coaching, or assigning work, it‟s critical to do the job right.
If you think about what you do when you sharetravel directions, you‟ll do a better job with supervisory
directions. Here are some tips to remind you of what works.
Choose your words carefully. Use the language that works best for your team member and what they
Some people prefer left/right directions. Others would rather have North/South. Some like distances in
miles, but others prefer “about thirty minutes.” Sometimes the situation or location calls for special
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language. My friend Rosa Say tells me that on Oahu, “mauka” means “toward the mountains,” while
“makai” means “toward the ocean.”
And there are local usages for travel directions. If you go “to the city,” it might be San Francisco or
London. And, in New York City, “the city” is the island of Manhattan. You find the same kind of special
language at some companies or in some industries.
Supplement your words if you can. Words are good, but if you can supplement them with diagrams
(maps) or demonstrations, you‟re more likely to be effective. Act things out. Give examples.
Use a variety of methods. I love my GPS, but I always work things out on a map before I travel to
Some people prefer to receive directions aurally. Others prefer them written out. Still others want something
they can refer to if they find they don‟t understand.Check for understanding. If you don‟t check, you
assume that you communicated perfectly. That‟s just not likely. Follow up to be sure. Even if your team
member understood perfectly when you give your directions the first time, it may not last. It‟s just the way
humans work that we can think we understand until it‟s time to actually follow the instructions. Couple that
with the fact that you, the boss, can‟t possibly think of every detail and you have a recipe for confusion.
Some team members will be reluctant to tell you that understanding has turned to confusion, so you have to
go and check. Part of your job is regularly touching base with your people, so use some of that time to see if
your directions are working out the way you and your team member expected. Then adjust as needed.