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PA 685: Strategic Management of
Public Communications
Module 3:
Increasing Engagement
Increasing Engagement
Much of the work done in public communications is
designed to increase an organization’s engagement with
its targeted stakeholders.
One needs to first understand the difficulty in engaging
smaller audiences.
Fortunately, most public communication campaigns are
done by small groups and teams rather than by
individuals.
Learning how to boost engagement in these small group
settings with communication and active listening can
ultimately boost our performance in public
communication campaigns.
Why Learn About Small Groups?
Groups are everywhere and impact how you
work.
To meet needs of coworkers and ultimately
stakeholders.
To learn how to boost others’ performance.
To become an effective group member.
To participate in the democratic process.
What is Small Group Communication?
Communicating In Small Groups
Consists of a small number of people.
Common purpose.
Sense of belonging.
Members exert influence on others in the group.
Small group communication is the transactive
process of creating meaning among 3 to 15
people who share a common purpose, who feel a
sense of belonging, and who exert influence on
each other.
Characteristics of Effective Small
Group Members
 Experienced
Bring their own professional/personal experiences to a project, but are
open and willing to new perspectives from other group members.
Problem-solving ability
Aren’t afraid to step up and tackle difficult issues.
Openness
Transparency and honesty are the foundation for successful
groups.
Supportiveness
All group members must be encouraged to participate and feel
appreciated for their contributions.
Action oriented
Successful groups take action promptly rather than delaying
decisions for others to make later on.
Positive personal style
Negativity is the quickest way to stop a productive group meeting.
Establishing Culture in Small Groups
 Group Norms
When new groups form, norms must be established.
Norms can be revised with consensus, but basic informal rules
must be established for continued interaction.
 Role Structure
Understanding the roles individuals play in groups is also an
important consideration for the culture of the group.
Formal (positional/titular) and informal (behavioral) roles.
Behavioral functions
Task functions (tasks forces, special committees) have a limited
amount of time to complete the work, so they usually must work
more efficiently and quicker.
Maintenance functions (ongoing committees focusing on the
continued delivery of a service) may take longer to reach
decisions because of the nature of their work.
Establishing Culture in Small Groups
Group Cohesiveness
Trust and supportiveness help group members recognize
the contributions of one another, but it can become too
cohesive.
Groupthink: a psychological phenomenon that occurs in
groups whereby creative thinking and individual
responsibility is discouraged because group members
become oriented to the need for harmony—even if that
means making an incorrect decision.
Diversity can help counter Groupthink.
Observable diversity (physical characteristics).
Implicit diversity (worldview and outlook on the project
at hand).
Why Work in Small Groups/Teams?
Research shows that team work produces increased
creativity with workplace tasks.
By contributing to a group effort, individuals have an
increased commitment to implementation.
Individuals are able to show their value in the
workplace to others outside of management, and they
see the contributions others make for the organization
as well.
Group work promotes enhanced relationships for
those involved, which boosts morale and spirit inside
an organization.
What Happens When a Group is Too
Large...
Formation of subgroups could lead to conflicting
factions within the group.
Unequal participation as people are able to more
easily shirk their personal responsibilities.
Increased likelihood of domination as someone must
step forward to lead larger groups to accomplish the
goal at hand.
Higher demands on this leader result in increased
personal stress and tensions within the group.
More voices lead to having a more difficult time
achieving consensus.
Possible Disadvantages to Groups
The potential for “social loafing.”
Group members may choose to socialize rather than
focus on the task..
One person may dominate the discussion.
Whether through personal motivation to impress others
or simply wanting the work finished, one may try to
subvert the group.
“I’d rather do it myself” syndrome.
We’ve all been there—but this limits creativity and
group buy-in and only brings “my way is the right way”
to the table.
Pressure to conform—Groupthink!
Principles of Small Group Leadership
 Leadership is not always vested in the formal leader of a
group.
Leadership is not the result of being named a group chair
or leader. Often people look to someone they trust and
have confidence in to lead groups.
 Leadership is multi-dimensional.
Task orientation: Working to primarily accomplish a
specific project or task.
Socio-emotional orientation: Working on a project/task,
but also recognizing the social and emotional needs of
the group, plays a significant role in creating an
environment where the work can be done.
 Leadership cannot always be compelled.
3 Styles of Group Leadership—
Autocratic
Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership: One person is identified as
the leader from the onset and he/she dictates policies and
procedures, decides what the goal of the group is, and controls the
activities of the group.
Advantages: not as time consuming for everyone because
decisions are dictated, efficient for simple tasks, a way of
managing large groups.
Disadvantages: very low cohesion and participation by group
members other than the leader.
Communication behaviors.
Leader controls the discussion and dominates
interactions during group meetings.
Group members have low involvement and their feedback is
rarely listened to and acted on.
3 Styles of Group Leadership—
Democratic
 Democratic Leadership: Group members take a more
participative role in making decisions; also known as
“Participative Leadership.”
Advantage: Higher levels of satisfaction with the outputs of
the group and commitment to the groupwork by members.
Because of the consensus in reaching decisions, this style
works well for complicated tasks.
Disadvantage: With everyone speaking and involved in
decisions, this style can be very inefficient and time
consuming—not good for situations that need prompt action.
Communication behaviors
Mediates conflict, encourages participation, socio- emotional
orientation.
3 Styles of Group Leadership—
Laissez-faire
Laissez-faire Leadership: Leaders are hands off in regard
to decision making and allows group members to make
decisions, also known as “Delegative Leadership.”
Advantage: Utilizes the talents of the group by
getting them involved.
Disadvantage: The “hands off” approach does leave
the potential for misdirection.
Communication behaviors:
Facilitates group activity but does not guarantee discussion,
poor feedback from leaders, provides information usually only
at the request and direction of the group because leaders are
removed from decision making.
Types of Small Group Decisions
Consensus: Agreement by all group members on the
decision.
Compromise: Give-and-take by group members to reach a
decision.
Voting: Voting on the decision takes place and the decision is
based on the outcome of the vote—may be majority rules or
based on a predetermined policy (60% must be in support).
Railroading: A strong vocal minority voices its opinion and the
majority remains quiet when they see the strong support the
vocal minority has reached—even though the majority may be
against the decision.
Coalitions/Hand clasping: Different group members band
together to form a coalition supporting one option over others.
The Functions of Groups in a New Era
Making organizational decisions.
Effecting change.
Negotiating conflict.
Fostering creativity
Maintaining ties to stakeholders
Important for the practice of public communications!
Communicating in Small Groups
Relate your statements to preceding remarks and
comments.
Use conventional word arrangements—don’t try to
impress with unnecessary vocabulary or terminology
that may not be understood by the group.
Speak concisely.
State one point at a time.
Understand how the group dynamics will impact your
statements.
Understanding Group Dynamics
Cohesive Groups
• Emphasize “I” rather than
“we”
• Reinforce good attendance
• Establish group traditions
• Set clear goals
• Encourage participation
• Celebrate accomplishing
goals
• Stress teamwork and
collaboration
Uncohesive Groups
• Emphasize individual
contributions
• Less emphasis on attendance
• Less effort to develop
traditions
• Avoid setting goals
• Limit participation
• Discourage group celebration
• Stress individual
accomplishment
Understanding Group Dynamics
Group and team interactions frequently
produce predictable communication interaction
patterns that identify the frequency of who talks
to whom.
Three common communication networks that
occur within groups.
All-channel: Everyone talks to everyone else.
Chain: People convey a message to one person at a
time.
Wheel: People report back to a central point of
contact.
Understanding Group Dynamics
All-Channel Network
A free flow of messages exists. Everyone in the
group is encouraged to talk to one another to share
their thoughts.
Understanding Group Dynamics
Chain Network
Messages within the group are passed on to one
person at a time in either direction (upward or
downward).
Understanding Group Dynamics
Wheel Network
The person perceived to be at the center of the
group is the recipient of the most messages and
is seen as the one who is responsible for sending
those messages out to other group members.
Being an Ethical Group Member
Be trustworthy and supportive.
Be honest and truthful.
Be thorough and unbiased when evaluating
information.
Behave with integrity.
Manage group conflict ethically.
Be an active listener!
What is Active Listening?
Effective communication is two-way
Depends on speaking and listening.
Active listening is the process of receiving,
constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken
and/or nonverbal messages; to hear something with
thoughtful attention.
Hearing vs. Listening
Hearing - physical process; natural; passive.
Listening - physical & mental process; active;
learned process; a skill.
You must choose to participate in the process of
listening.
Hearing versus Listening
We listen at 125-250 wpm, think at 1000-3000
wpm.
75% of the time we are distracted, preoccupied, or
forgetful.
20% of the time, we remember what we hear.
More than 35% of businesses think listening is a top
skill for success.
Less than 2% of people have had formal education
with listening.
Mode of
Communication
Formal Years
of Training
Percentage of
Time Used
Writing 12 years 9%
Reading 6 to 8 years 16%
Speaking 1 to 2 years 30%
Listening 0 to few hours 45%
Why Be A Good Listener?
Needs of the Speaker
To be recognized and remembered
To feel valued.
To feel appreciated.
To feel respected.
To feel understood.
To feel comfortable about a want or need.
The Power of Listening
 Listening is the most powerful form of acknowledgment. It says,
“You are important.”
Listening builds stronger relationships and creates a desire to
cooperate among people because they feel accepted and
acknowledged.
Listening promotes being heard.
Listening creates acceptance and openness that conveys the
message that “I am not judging you.”
Listening leads to learning, and openness encourages personal
growth and learning.
Listening reduces stress and tension. By minimizing confusion
and misunderstanding, you eliminate related stress and tension
Listening is critical in conflict resolution. Much conflict comes
from the need to be heard. Successful resolution depends on
truly listening to each other.






Barriers to Listening
Equate with hearing.
Uninteresting topics.
Speaker’s delivery.
External distractions.
Mentally preparing
response.
Listening for facts.
Personal concerns.
Personal bias.
Language/culture
differences.
Faking attention.
Bad Listening Habits
Criticizing the subject or the speaker.
Getting over-stimulated.
Listening only for facts.
Not taking notes OR outlining everything.
Tolerating or creating distraction.
Letting emotional words block message.
Wasting time difference between speed of speech and
speed of thought.
Active Listening
Allows you to make sure you hear the words
and understand the meaning behind the
words.
Goal: go beyond listening to understanding.
Active Listening requires
Definite intent to listen.
Focus on the speaker.
Verbal and non-verbal encouragers.
Feedback loop to ensure accuracy.
Four Steps of Active Listening
1.
2.
3.
4.
Listen.
Question.
Reflect-paraphrase.
Agree.
Step 1: Listen
To feelings as well as words.
Words, emotions, and implications.
Focus on speaker.
Don’t plan, speak, or get distracted.
What is the speaker talking about?
Topic? Speaker? Listener? Others?
Look at the speaker.
Use verbal & non-verbal encouragers.
Step 2: Question
3 Purposes.
Demonstrates you are listening
Gather information.
Clarification.
Open-ended.
Tell me more?
How did you feel?
Then what happened?
Step 3: Reflect-Paraphrase
Reflect what is said (in your words).
Reflect feelings.
Reframe.
Capture the essence of the communication.
Remove negative framing.
Move toward problem solving.
Step 4: Agree
Get the speaker’s consent to your reframing.
Speaker has been heard and knows it!
Solution is near!
References
 Barge, J. K. (2002). Enlarging the meaning of group deliberation. In L. Frey
(Ed.), New directions in group communication (pp. 159–178). Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage.
Kubota, S., Mishima, N., & Nagata, S. (2004). A study of the effects of active
listening on listening attitudes of middle managers. Journal of Occupational
Health, 46, 60-67.
Poole, M. S. , Hollingshead, A. B. , McGrath, J. E. , Moreland, R. , &
Rohrbaugh, J. (2005). Interdisciplinary perspectives on small groups. In M. S.
Poole and A. B. Hollingshead (Eds.), Theories of small groups:
Interdisciplinary perspectives (pp. 1–20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sundstrom, E. , McIntyre, M. , Halfhill, T. , & Richards, H. (2000). Work
groups: From the Hawthorne studies to work teams of the 1990s and beyond.
Group Dynamics, 4 ,44–67.
Sunwolf , & Frey, L. R. (2005). Facilitating group communication. In S. A.
Wheelan (Ed.), The handbook of group research and practice (pp. 485–
509). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.





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PA 685 Strategic Public Communications Module 3

  • 1. PA 685: Strategic Management of Public Communications Module 3: Increasing Engagement
  • 2. Increasing Engagement Much of the work done in public communications is designed to increase an organization’s engagement with its targeted stakeholders. One needs to first understand the difficulty in engaging smaller audiences. Fortunately, most public communication campaigns are done by small groups and teams rather than by individuals. Learning how to boost engagement in these small group settings with communication and active listening can ultimately boost our performance in public communication campaigns.
  • 3. Why Learn About Small Groups? Groups are everywhere and impact how you work. To meet needs of coworkers and ultimately stakeholders. To learn how to boost others’ performance. To become an effective group member. To participate in the democratic process.
  • 4. What is Small Group Communication? Communicating In Small Groups Consists of a small number of people. Common purpose. Sense of belonging. Members exert influence on others in the group. Small group communication is the transactive process of creating meaning among 3 to 15 people who share a common purpose, who feel a sense of belonging, and who exert influence on each other.
  • 5. Characteristics of Effective Small Group Members  Experienced Bring their own professional/personal experiences to a project, but are open and willing to new perspectives from other group members. Problem-solving ability Aren’t afraid to step up and tackle difficult issues. Openness Transparency and honesty are the foundation for successful groups. Supportiveness All group members must be encouraged to participate and feel appreciated for their contributions. Action oriented Successful groups take action promptly rather than delaying decisions for others to make later on. Positive personal style Negativity is the quickest way to stop a productive group meeting.
  • 6. Establishing Culture in Small Groups  Group Norms When new groups form, norms must be established. Norms can be revised with consensus, but basic informal rules must be established for continued interaction.  Role Structure Understanding the roles individuals play in groups is also an important consideration for the culture of the group. Formal (positional/titular) and informal (behavioral) roles. Behavioral functions Task functions (tasks forces, special committees) have a limited amount of time to complete the work, so they usually must work more efficiently and quicker. Maintenance functions (ongoing committees focusing on the continued delivery of a service) may take longer to reach decisions because of the nature of their work.
  • 7. Establishing Culture in Small Groups Group Cohesiveness Trust and supportiveness help group members recognize the contributions of one another, but it can become too cohesive. Groupthink: a psychological phenomenon that occurs in groups whereby creative thinking and individual responsibility is discouraged because group members become oriented to the need for harmony—even if that means making an incorrect decision. Diversity can help counter Groupthink. Observable diversity (physical characteristics). Implicit diversity (worldview and outlook on the project at hand).
  • 8. Why Work in Small Groups/Teams? Research shows that team work produces increased creativity with workplace tasks. By contributing to a group effort, individuals have an increased commitment to implementation. Individuals are able to show their value in the workplace to others outside of management, and they see the contributions others make for the organization as well. Group work promotes enhanced relationships for those involved, which boosts morale and spirit inside an organization.
  • 9. What Happens When a Group is Too Large... Formation of subgroups could lead to conflicting factions within the group. Unequal participation as people are able to more easily shirk their personal responsibilities. Increased likelihood of domination as someone must step forward to lead larger groups to accomplish the goal at hand. Higher demands on this leader result in increased personal stress and tensions within the group. More voices lead to having a more difficult time achieving consensus.
  • 10. Possible Disadvantages to Groups The potential for “social loafing.” Group members may choose to socialize rather than focus on the task.. One person may dominate the discussion. Whether through personal motivation to impress others or simply wanting the work finished, one may try to subvert the group. “I’d rather do it myself” syndrome. We’ve all been there—but this limits creativity and group buy-in and only brings “my way is the right way” to the table. Pressure to conform—Groupthink!
  • 11. Principles of Small Group Leadership  Leadership is not always vested in the formal leader of a group. Leadership is not the result of being named a group chair or leader. Often people look to someone they trust and have confidence in to lead groups.  Leadership is multi-dimensional. Task orientation: Working to primarily accomplish a specific project or task. Socio-emotional orientation: Working on a project/task, but also recognizing the social and emotional needs of the group, plays a significant role in creating an environment where the work can be done.  Leadership cannot always be compelled.
  • 12. 3 Styles of Group Leadership— Autocratic Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership: One person is identified as the leader from the onset and he/she dictates policies and procedures, decides what the goal of the group is, and controls the activities of the group. Advantages: not as time consuming for everyone because decisions are dictated, efficient for simple tasks, a way of managing large groups. Disadvantages: very low cohesion and participation by group members other than the leader. Communication behaviors. Leader controls the discussion and dominates interactions during group meetings. Group members have low involvement and their feedback is rarely listened to and acted on.
  • 13. 3 Styles of Group Leadership— Democratic  Democratic Leadership: Group members take a more participative role in making decisions; also known as “Participative Leadership.” Advantage: Higher levels of satisfaction with the outputs of the group and commitment to the groupwork by members. Because of the consensus in reaching decisions, this style works well for complicated tasks. Disadvantage: With everyone speaking and involved in decisions, this style can be very inefficient and time consuming—not good for situations that need prompt action. Communication behaviors Mediates conflict, encourages participation, socio- emotional orientation.
  • 14. 3 Styles of Group Leadership— Laissez-faire Laissez-faire Leadership: Leaders are hands off in regard to decision making and allows group members to make decisions, also known as “Delegative Leadership.” Advantage: Utilizes the talents of the group by getting them involved. Disadvantage: The “hands off” approach does leave the potential for misdirection. Communication behaviors: Facilitates group activity but does not guarantee discussion, poor feedback from leaders, provides information usually only at the request and direction of the group because leaders are removed from decision making.
  • 15. Types of Small Group Decisions Consensus: Agreement by all group members on the decision. Compromise: Give-and-take by group members to reach a decision. Voting: Voting on the decision takes place and the decision is based on the outcome of the vote—may be majority rules or based on a predetermined policy (60% must be in support). Railroading: A strong vocal minority voices its opinion and the majority remains quiet when they see the strong support the vocal minority has reached—even though the majority may be against the decision. Coalitions/Hand clasping: Different group members band together to form a coalition supporting one option over others.
  • 16. The Functions of Groups in a New Era Making organizational decisions. Effecting change. Negotiating conflict. Fostering creativity Maintaining ties to stakeholders Important for the practice of public communications!
  • 17. Communicating in Small Groups Relate your statements to preceding remarks and comments. Use conventional word arrangements—don’t try to impress with unnecessary vocabulary or terminology that may not be understood by the group. Speak concisely. State one point at a time. Understand how the group dynamics will impact your statements.
  • 18. Understanding Group Dynamics Cohesive Groups • Emphasize “I” rather than “we” • Reinforce good attendance • Establish group traditions • Set clear goals • Encourage participation • Celebrate accomplishing goals • Stress teamwork and collaboration Uncohesive Groups • Emphasize individual contributions • Less emphasis on attendance • Less effort to develop traditions • Avoid setting goals • Limit participation • Discourage group celebration • Stress individual accomplishment
  • 19. Understanding Group Dynamics Group and team interactions frequently produce predictable communication interaction patterns that identify the frequency of who talks to whom. Three common communication networks that occur within groups. All-channel: Everyone talks to everyone else. Chain: People convey a message to one person at a time. Wheel: People report back to a central point of contact.
  • 20. Understanding Group Dynamics All-Channel Network A free flow of messages exists. Everyone in the group is encouraged to talk to one another to share their thoughts.
  • 21. Understanding Group Dynamics Chain Network Messages within the group are passed on to one person at a time in either direction (upward or downward).
  • 22. Understanding Group Dynamics Wheel Network The person perceived to be at the center of the group is the recipient of the most messages and is seen as the one who is responsible for sending those messages out to other group members.
  • 23. Being an Ethical Group Member Be trustworthy and supportive. Be honest and truthful. Be thorough and unbiased when evaluating information. Behave with integrity. Manage group conflict ethically. Be an active listener!
  • 24. What is Active Listening? Effective communication is two-way Depends on speaking and listening. Active listening is the process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages; to hear something with thoughtful attention. Hearing vs. Listening Hearing - physical process; natural; passive. Listening - physical & mental process; active; learned process; a skill. You must choose to participate in the process of listening.
  • 25. Hearing versus Listening We listen at 125-250 wpm, think at 1000-3000 wpm. 75% of the time we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful. 20% of the time, we remember what we hear. More than 35% of businesses think listening is a top skill for success. Less than 2% of people have had formal education with listening.
  • 26. Mode of Communication Formal Years of Training Percentage of Time Used Writing 12 years 9% Reading 6 to 8 years 16% Speaking 1 to 2 years 30% Listening 0 to few hours 45%
  • 27. Why Be A Good Listener? Needs of the Speaker To be recognized and remembered To feel valued. To feel appreciated. To feel respected. To feel understood. To feel comfortable about a want or need.
  • 28. The Power of Listening  Listening is the most powerful form of acknowledgment. It says, “You are important.” Listening builds stronger relationships and creates a desire to cooperate among people because they feel accepted and acknowledged. Listening promotes being heard. Listening creates acceptance and openness that conveys the message that “I am not judging you.” Listening leads to learning, and openness encourages personal growth and learning. Listening reduces stress and tension. By minimizing confusion and misunderstanding, you eliminate related stress and tension Listening is critical in conflict resolution. Much conflict comes from the need to be heard. Successful resolution depends on truly listening to each other.      
  • 29. Barriers to Listening Equate with hearing. Uninteresting topics. Speaker’s delivery. External distractions. Mentally preparing response. Listening for facts. Personal concerns. Personal bias. Language/culture differences. Faking attention.
  • 30. Bad Listening Habits Criticizing the subject or the speaker. Getting over-stimulated. Listening only for facts. Not taking notes OR outlining everything. Tolerating or creating distraction. Letting emotional words block message. Wasting time difference between speed of speech and speed of thought.
  • 31. Active Listening Allows you to make sure you hear the words and understand the meaning behind the words. Goal: go beyond listening to understanding. Active Listening requires Definite intent to listen. Focus on the speaker. Verbal and non-verbal encouragers. Feedback loop to ensure accuracy.
  • 32. Four Steps of Active Listening 1. 2. 3. 4. Listen. Question. Reflect-paraphrase. Agree.
  • 33. Step 1: Listen To feelings as well as words. Words, emotions, and implications. Focus on speaker. Don’t plan, speak, or get distracted. What is the speaker talking about? Topic? Speaker? Listener? Others? Look at the speaker. Use verbal & non-verbal encouragers.
  • 34. Step 2: Question 3 Purposes. Demonstrates you are listening Gather information. Clarification. Open-ended. Tell me more? How did you feel? Then what happened?
  • 35. Step 3: Reflect-Paraphrase Reflect what is said (in your words). Reflect feelings. Reframe. Capture the essence of the communication. Remove negative framing. Move toward problem solving.
  • 36. Step 4: Agree Get the speaker’s consent to your reframing. Speaker has been heard and knows it! Solution is near!
  • 37. References  Barge, J. K. (2002). Enlarging the meaning of group deliberation. In L. Frey (Ed.), New directions in group communication (pp. 159–178). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Kubota, S., Mishima, N., & Nagata, S. (2004). A study of the effects of active listening on listening attitudes of middle managers. Journal of Occupational Health, 46, 60-67. Poole, M. S. , Hollingshead, A. B. , McGrath, J. E. , Moreland, R. , & Rohrbaugh, J. (2005). Interdisciplinary perspectives on small groups. In M. S. Poole and A. B. Hollingshead (Eds.), Theories of small groups: Interdisciplinary perspectives (pp. 1–20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Sundstrom, E. , McIntyre, M. , Halfhill, T. , & Richards, H. (2000). Work groups: From the Hawthorne studies to work teams of the 1990s and beyond. Group Dynamics, 4 ,44–67. Sunwolf , & Frey, L. R. (2005). Facilitating group communication. In S. A. Wheelan (Ed.), The handbook of group research and practice (pp. 485– 509). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.    