Communication Currents

Current Commentary

Practical Advice from Communication Experts

April 1, 2010
General Communication Studies

Do you want your children to pay attention when you talk to them? If so, you should listen to them when they want to talk to you. If your child approaches you with something that's important to him or her, such as extending a curfew or increasing their allowance, listen and discuss the topic with your child. Don't avoid your children or try to shut them down, and they'll be less likely to ignore you when you want to discuss a topic that's important to you.

--Rachel M. Reznik, Elmhurst College 

Every new relationship has the potential to develop, but the questions are "to what and how much"? Each person in the relationship uses an internal scale of NO, maybe, OK, Great, or Excellent and then they each apply that answer to what happens during the initial get-to-know-you stage. It all goes very fast, but you can watch people click or not in the first few minutes.

Take seriously what is said. Although it often seems people work out ideas during meetings, what is said, what is permitted, what is not said, are all important features. If others do not take what is said seriously, that is important to try to understand as well.

--Alice Crume, Kent State University Tuscarawas 

How should you respond when you feel you have been wronged by someone with power over you in the workplace? Instead of jumping to conclusions and criticizing the person to others, try talking to the individual directly using this three-step approach. (1) Describe what happened that bothered you, in a sequential order and with minimal details, using a neutral tone of voice; (2) ask the person for more information about the situation from his or her perspective; and (3) let it go and move on or appeal to an appropriate body. 

--Valerie Smith, California State University, East Bay 

Do you really want to become a better communicator? The challenge is not just learning what to change about yourself, but actually making the transformation. To do this, step out of your comfort zone and be the communicator you'd like to become. Express your viewpoint at the next business meeting, or introduce yourself to three people you don't know. If you know where you are, and where you want to be--then take the last step and make it happen.  

--Jeffrey Youngquist, Oakland University  

If you want to make the most out of your conversations, try using the three-second rule. When the person you're speaking with finishes talking, silently count to three before you start talking. This brief pause gives the person ample time to insure she's actually finished making her point. It also shows the person that you respect what she has to say and that you're willing to take the time to hear her out. 

--Eric Paul Engel, University of South Florida 

Gratitude goes a long way to making your workday easier. Whenever someone does you a favor at work make sure youcommunicate tothe person who helped you both that you know that it was a favor, and that you are appropriately grateful. 

--John Socas, Bronx Community College 

When involved in a serious conversation, one of the most useful components is eliciting clarifying statements from the other person. Before reacting emotionally, take the time to say, “That is upsetting to hear. What do you mean by that?” This promotes dialogue, opening up the discussion for further conversation.  

--Erin Christie, Rutgers University 

Successful groups don't just happen. Team members must be competent in, and able to effectively communicate about decision making, conflict management, relational maintenance, organizing structures, and action planning, among other practices. It's not enough to just place people in groups and expect them to succeed. Learning about the complexities of groups, and participating in a variety of team situations, are fundamental ingredients for producing skilled team members and effective groups.  

--Renee A. Meyers, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee