How to communicate effectively.

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"This is the beginning of a learning experience we have chosen to share. We can waste it or we can capitalize on it. But, it is important because of what we are exchanging for it. When this experience is over, the time will be gone forever, leaving something in its place that we have traded for it. Together we can gain, not lose and succeed...not fail. And we shall not regret the price we paid for it."

Author Unknown


1.Stop talking! You can only do one of two things: listen or talk.

2.Put the talker at ease. Good communication can only take place in a non-defensive environment.

3.Show the talker that you want to listen. Listening is not something you can be passive about.

4. Remove distractions. This will help show the talker you're interested in what they have to say. This also helps put the person at ease.

5.Empathize with talkers. Try to put yourself in that person's shoes.

6.Be patient. Let the talker finis before asking a lot of questions.

7.Hold your temper. An angry response is a poor response. Give yourself time to cool down before responding.

8.Try to avoid arguing or criticizing. This can destroy the open flow of communication you have worked hard to create.

9.Ask questions. Don't interrupt the speaker unless you're unclear about something. After you have heard everything, ask any questions you may have developed.

10.Stop talking! This is the most important step of all. If you are talking, you are NOT listening.

"Listening requires two ears- one for meaning and one for feeling"

"Decision-makers who do not listen have less information for making sound decisions"

Adapted from Human Behavior at Work by K. Davis


1.Pre-Counseling stage- either a student seeks you out for help or you approach a student because of a problem or potential problem. Practice empathy and respect in order to build trust with the student.

2.Listening and responding stage- The student talks; you listen and periodically relate your interpretation of the situation back to the person.

3.Problem identification and analysis stage- try to identify the problem, as you understand it. It is difficult to help develop an appropriate course of action if the problem is not clearly identified.

4.Resolution stage- Develop a course of action that helps resolve the problem or bring closure to the issue. This could mean simply listening to the student or actually referring the student to an appropriate professional.

5.Follow-up stage- This helps to continue the established helping relationship and shows the student you still care. The purpose of this is to ensure that the student has attempted to implement the course of action.

Using Effective "I statements"

You are irresponsible.

You are rude and inconsiderate.

You are annoying, abrasive, and I can't stand being around you!

These are judgmental statements that are not really aimed at solving a problem. Certainly, they work well to indicate where a problem exists, but they may well make it worse. Still, you may be feeling this way. So what do you do to make thing better?

First, lets look at the problem, with the statements made above. They all tend to attack the person with an unpleasant label. They do not address the behaviors that have led to these conclusions. They tend to cause a person to feel like they need to defend themselves. They are almost perfectly designed for creating a conflict, whether or not that was their intended purpose.

So we all know why we should not say things like those listed above now, but you may still feel that way about someone. You have every right to address the situation but you need to do a little bit of work before you speak out. You need to take a look at what actions or behaviors on the part of the other person have led you to feel the way you do.

·What is it that my residents do that makes me so upset?

·What is it that my co-worker does that has me feeling this was when they talk to me?

You need to answer these questions before any productive work can be done.

When you do not follow through promises you have

made to me it makes things tougher on me.

I feel as though you do not respect what I have to say when you interrupt me.

Sometimes when you are laughing and talking loudly,

it quite honestly makes me nervous.

These bring the focus of the conversation from judging the other person to a frank discussion about your reaction to their behavior. I statements should focus on helping the person realize the negative emotional consequence of the behaviors. You are entitled to you feelings; you simply need to be aware of how you put those out there. By using these statements, as opposed at the top of the page, you are inviting a discussion that will hopefully lead to a better situation. Both sides have to be open to the emotional content on either side of the issue still, but this approach is far more likely to be seen as cooperative, productive, and fair.

Framing Questions

Open VS. Closed

·Use open-ended questions, which allow residents to share an account of something that happened, their feelings or other information.

·Open-ended questions often begin with WHAT or HOW.

·WHY questions are often unproductive and can put the resident on the defensive.

·Closed ended questions provide the listener with the specific, limited information.

·Try to avoid close ended or "yes and no" questions, which don't allow your resident to elaborate.

·Keep questions simple; multiple questions at once may feel overwhelming to answer.


What is concerning you right now?


Did you have another fight with you parents?

How did that make you feel?


Did that upset you?

Clarifying Responses

Often someone will only tell a part of the problem to test your willingness/ability to help. Make sure that the problem/issue is crystal clear. Ask the necessary questions to fully understand the problem at hand.


"So let me make sure I understand what you are saying, and please correct me if I am wrong. You are concerned that if you go to the game with your friends from home your boyfriend will be angry with you?"

"It sounds like you are upset with your roommate because he isn't respecting your right to privacy. Is that it?"

Paraphrasing Responses

·Paraphrasing statements let your residents know you are hearing what they are saying.

·Keep mental track of what your resident has said and re-state it in similar words.

·Responses that paraphrase are more likely to focus on the cognitive aspects of the resident's message. (i.e. emphasize situations, ideas, objects, and persons).


Student: "I wish I had studied for that test. I think I would have gotten a better grade"

Staff: "you think studying for your exam might have improved your grade."

Student: "I went back to student health services and they said I am fine."

Staff: "They gave you a clean bill of health."