Education for Pastoral Councils - Communication in Groups

“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

Speaking: Make your message clear

  Deliver accurate 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

  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

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