Effective Communication -Verbal Communication
Using verbal communication; the most frequently used method of communication.
Effective Communication - Verbal Communication
A student, Lily comes through to see the career practitioner, Sanele. Lily appears to be bothered by something. Sanele receives her warmly and asks her to have a seat in his office.
Sanele: Hello Lily, it’s a pleasure to meet you. What brings you in today?
Lily: Hello, well... I really have a battle with doing things for the impression that others will have of me or the approval that I will get from other people. So much so that I will very often override myself, so that I can gain the acceptance, I guess, of other people, whether friends or family. I will always go out of my way to gain acceptance and also minimise my own feelings so that there is no confrontation. So, I guess, I’m eager to please, wanting to make sure that all things are well and smooth and that I’m liked and accepted in every situation.
Sanele: As you’re saying that it really feels like a lot of hard work. A lot of hard work and pre-empting whatever it is that they would have expected of you. And then ‘sacrificing’, I guess, is a word that came up for me. Sacrificing your own wants and needs to be able to meet what you perceive is expected of you. Have I understood that correctly?
Lily: Yeah, the word ‘sacrifice’ really captures the feeling that comes up for me when I sort of reflect and look over that kind of situation. So often, I will sacrifice my own wants and my own desires to please others.
The case study above deals with verbal communication between a student and practitioner. Often verbal communication in counselling requires for the practitioner to be able to effectively listen and speak.
Verbal communication is the most frequently used method of communication. It is auditory communication with words and includes sounds, tone and volume. Similarly, we pay attention to the denotation (dictionary meaning of the word) and connotation (feelings associated with meaning of words). Therefore, choosing the right words according to the situation is important. The career development practitioner’s clarity of tone plays an important role. Much can also be detected from the clients’ tone of voice. The career development practitioner can easily pick up on the clients’ enthusiasm, frustration, etc. The practitioner can encourage the client to continue speaking and feel more comfortable to explore issues in greater depth by providing encouraging responses. Sanele made use of words to capture what he was hearing in Lily’s story.
Career counselling sometimes coincides with unexpected and unpleasant life events, such as being retrenched or the loss of a loved one. Career practitioners need to convey sensitivity to all circumstances, while assessing emotions to offer practical advice that will help job seekers get on the path best suited to them and their abilities. Practitioners need to be aware that their choice of words can be empowering or harmful.
As mentioned above verbal communication is any communication that uses words to share information with others. These words may be both spoken and written. It is important to remember that effective verbal communication cannot be fully isolated from nonverbal communication, for example your body language, tone of voice and facial expressions.
- Beliefs and values
Ways to enhance verbal communication skills
- Be prepared to listen. Concentrate on the client and not on how you are going to reply.
- Keep an open mind and avoid making judgements about the client.
- Concentrate on the main direction of the client’s message. Try to understand broadly what they are trying to say overall, as well as the detail of the words that they are using.
- Avoid distractions if at all possible. For example, if there is a lot of background noise, you might suggest that you go somewhere else to talk.
- Be unbiased.
- Do not dwell on one or two points at the expense of others. Try to use the overall picture and all the information that you have.
- Do not stereotype the client. Try not to let prejudices associated with gender, ethnicity, accent, social class, appearance or dress interfere with what is being said.
Additionally, there are techniques that are used to improve the effectiveness of verbal communication. These include reinforcement, questioning, reflection and clarification.
Reinforcement refers to the use of encouraging words or gestures like nodding and smiling to facilitate conversation. Reinforcement helps to build rapport (refer to section 1.9) and is more likely to reinforce openness in others. The use of encouragement and positive reinforcement can:
- Show warmth and openness.
- Encourage others to participate in discussion (particularly in group work).
- Show interest in what other people have to say.
- Pave the way for development and maintenance of a relationship.
- Dispel fears and give reassurance.
- Reduce shyness in others.
- The practitioner allows the client to 'hear' their own thoughts and to focus on what they say and feel.
- It shows the client that you are trying to perceive the world as they see it and that you are doing your best to understand their messages.
- It encourages clients to continue talking.
- Let the client know that you are listening and understand what they are saying.
- Clarify confusing content.
- Highlight issues by stating them more concisely.
- Check out the accuracy of your perceptions as the practitioner.
Christopher John Beukes
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