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5 Guidelines for More Effective Communication


by Cathy Abraham

Communication is effective when the perceived message matches the intended message. This is more likely to happen, if you:

1) Understand your intentions or goal. Since the communication process begins with an intended message, be clear on your intentions or what you hope to convey before you begin.

2) Say what you mean. If you convey a mixed message, you are likely to confuse the other person. If you are struggling to find appropriate words, acknowledge that.

3) Use I Statements. I statements describe your ideas &/or feelings, and enables you to take responsibility for your thoughts and emotions. They are much more effective than You statements, which carry a judgmental tone, and often put a person on the defensive immediately.

4) Listen for content, feelings, and intent. Each is an important component of whatever message is being communicated, and must each be considered in interpreting information.

5) Check for understanding. Communication often breaks down because people make assumptions, or because there is an assumption of understanding. Clarify, ask questions, summarize and paraphrase to be ensure that both parties have the same understanding.


I Statements tend to:
- Place responsibility with you, the speaker
- Clarify your position, feelings, or opinions
- Build trust by giving others information about yourself
- Be less threatening or carry a tone of blame

You Statements tend to:
- Elicit a negative or defensive response
- Place blame or put people down
- Come off as being accusatory or preachy

Examples of I Statements:
I couldn t understand what you said.
I missed having your input at the meeting.
I'm concerned about classroom control and safety.

Examples of You Statements:
You didn't make any sense.
You didn't care enough to come to the meeting.
You can't control your class.

Components of I-Messages:
- your feelings
- what's happening
- the reason

Example:
It is frustrating to me (your feelings)
when I see that you are not on time (what's happening)
because that leaves a classroom out of ratio. (the reason)

About the Author:
Cathy Abraham has worked in the early childhood field for 25 years. She is currently a consultant, curriculum writer and trainer. Cathy can be reached at childcarediva@aol.com. .



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