“Communication is the basis for all human interaction and for all group functioning.  Every group must take in and use information.  The very existence of a group depends on  communication, on exchanging information and transmitting meaning”

 “Effective communication exists between two persons when the receiver interprets the sender’s message in the same way the sender intended it.”

David W. Johnson and Frank P. Johnson, “Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills”

The three essential elements of communication are: the sender (speaker), the receiver (listener) and the message (meaning).

 Listening: Being attentive to the verbal and non-verbal messages

  Pay attention to the speaker

  • keep eye contact with the speaker
  • avoid taking notes when one person is speaking
  • listen for both the message and the meaning:  what is the person telling you?  What is the person saying about the situation that helps you understand their feeling as well as their ideas?
  • ask questions that will clarify what you have heard (“You were saying that you felt that our parish needed to be more welcoming.  Is there a specific way that you had in mind ?”)
  • listen for verbs since these indicate action.  Most people want action.
  • be aware of the non-verbal messages being sent. (Observe facial expressions and body language)
  • if you are not sure about something, check it out with the speaker
Speaking: Make your message clear

  Deliver accurate information

  • Avoid general and sweeping statements. Limit your use of absolutes: words such as always, never, everyone, no one. Words that better define most situations are some, many, few, often, rarely, sometimes.
  • Do not speak for the unnamed others (“some groups want to ….” or “some people feel that ….”)
  • Be brief, no one really wants the long version of your story
  • Avoid anecdotes and little shorts, people want substantive information

  Speak for yourself and no one else

 Make “I” statements, take ownership of your thoughts and suggestions   (example: I think/feel/ believe…”. or “It has been my experience…..”)

 Use provisional language

  This is a softer way of delivering your message. It is an important tool when collaborating with peers.  It may require some practice, since in other aspects of their lives the members of the Parish Pastoral Council or other parish groups may need to give instruction, make decisions or be in charge.

 Normal manner of speech
 Using provisional language

Normal- “We should take this course of action..”

Provisional- “I wonder if we might consider..” 

Normal- “This is the way to do it..”

Provisional-  “It might be beneficial to try..”

These statements give insight into the direction in which the speaker wouldlike the group to go  but they also allow others to develop their ownopinions about the recommendation.  Provisional tatements invitediscussion.

Choose encouraging words to get action:

 Normal manner of speech   Using positive speech

Normal- “There is not enough time..”

Positive- “We will need to set priorities..”

Normal- “It’s a risk..”

Positive- “It’s an opportunity..” 

Normal- ” What we have is good enough..”

Positive- “We can probably make it better..” 

Normal- “There is no way we can do all this work..”

Positive- “We will need to set priorities..”

     Understanding: Message received

  Be aware of your personal assumptions and biases, these are your personal filters of information

  •  Try not to assume that you know more than you do
  •  Hold your opinion lightly
  •  Be willing to be influenced

  Ask sincere questions, ones that will increase your understanding (example: “can you tell me more about …..” or ” I am not certain what you meant by… could you clarify.”)

  Avoid questions that are meant to tell the person more about your opinion than to gather information  (example: “have you gained weight?”)  

See Also: Communication with the Parishioners