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close this bookProject Support Communication - Meetings (HABITAT, 1986, 42 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentChapter 1: Introduction
View the documentChapter 2: Who has to meet: and for what purpose?
View the documentChapter 3: Interpersonal communication
View the documentChapter 4: Giving a speech in pubic
View the documentChapter 5: Conducting an interview (dealing with complaints)
View the documentChapter 6: Conducting a meeting: the hidden agenda
View the documentChapter 7: Organizing a meeting: the written agenda
View the documentChapter 8. Bibliography

Chapter 3: Interpersonal communication

Although some people are better natural speakers than others, speaking knowledgeably, clearly and concisely is basic to being an effective speaker. Personal experience in speaking in public creates confidence, and a confident tone will make the audience listen.

Speaking and listening are both part of interpersonal communication. In interpersonal communication, a distinction is often made between verbal, non - verbal and oral communi cation. They mean the following:




Task 3

The last one, non-verbal communication, includes body and sign language.
In the space below, write three examples of non-verbal communication which you believe are understood by most people:

Task 4

From the following examples of communication choose those that represent non-verbal communication by ticking them off.

a. Singing a song to a crowd
b. Blowing a whistle to start off a game of soccer
c. Showing a photograph to a friend
d. Writing a letter of reprimand
e. Reading a notice at the entrance of a building
f. Waving at a departing friend
g. Reciting a poem to a group of people
h. Sighing in relief
i. Beckoning someone to come to you
j. Calling out a friend' s name

Task 5

In the previous task you did not tick off all ten forms of communication. Why did you leave some of them out? Write your reason in the space below:

(The instructor will briefly discuss answers.)

When communicating with people, we normally do not use verbal communication alone. We may use pictures, gestures, miming and other bodily movements to convey our thoughts. We may also use grunts, which are very useful (for instance on the telephone) to let somebody know you are still there (because he cannot see you). These are all forms of non-verbal communication. They do not rely on spoken words, although they may be accompanied by words.

When speaking in public, we use mainly oral communication, but it is usually supported by some written words and some non-verbal communication.

Task 6

Oral and written communication each have their advantages and disadvantages. Check for each of the advantages listed below whether they belong to oral or to written communication. Tick the appropriate column.



a. You can adjust it while using it.

b. It is more binding.

c. It is easy and fast.

d. It is a permanent record.

e. It allows immediate feedback.

f. It can reach more people.

g. It is flexible.

h. It is more accurate.

i. It is better remembered.

j. It cannot be misinterpreted.

Verbal, non-verbal and oral communication are combined to enhance the clarity and accuracy of inter personal communication.

Other factors are involved as well in making interpersonal communication clear and accurate.

Speaking and listening

A person normally speaks at a speed of 125 words per minute. This is slow compared to the speed with which the human brain can 'digest' the words spoken by somebody else. Someone who is concentrating and who is not tired can absorb about 500 words per minute. This means that a person who is listening to someone else has 'extra' time which can be used to analyze what is being said, to think of appropriate answers, and to reach conclusions. There is even time to make notes.

However advantageous this may seem, in reality people tend to feel they do not need to hear all that is being explained, especially if they know that they will not be asked to comment on what is said. Good listening is tiresome because it requires concentration, but it is important in order to improve the quality of the discussion and to get results from it.

Good speaking, in turn, makes concentration on what is being said easy.

Therefore, listening carefully and speaking clearly reinforce interpersonal communication.
But even when people are capable of listening carefully and speaking clearly, confusion and misunderstanding do occur. A speaker may:

- not take time to organize his or her thoughts before speaking;

- pack too many topics in a single statement or make vague statements; or

- ignore points made by the previous speaker, and therefore not actually respond to what has been said.

A listener may:

- make notes (mentally or on paper) and thereby not concentrate on what i s being said;

- get lost in the details and lose track of the main message; or

- decline to ask questions to avoid being considered ignorant - and therefore stop short of wholly understanding the discussion.

The purpose of the exercise on the next page is to eliminate this kind of shortcoming by concentrating on listening carefully, speaking clearly and precisely, and on explaining a simple topic accurately.




Depending on the number of teams in the group and whether video is used for feedback. (Approx. 1 to 1.5 hours).

Instructions for trainer

1. Make teams of two persons.

2. Give each team a topic for discussion, one on which participants are able to take opposite sides and on which they can make clear statements. Some suggestions are given below.

3. Explain the main rule of the exercise: Each person is to summarize what has been said by the previous speaker before he is allowed to reply with his own statement. If the previous speaker is not satisfied with the way the other has interpreted his statement, he will object to it.

4. Give the teams ten minutes to prepare their opposed positions on the topic.

5. Call on the first speaker of the first team to make the initial statement.

6. Give each team three minutes to complete its exercise. Monitor proceedings and check whether each team member is satisfied with the recapitulations made by the other team member.

7. After all teams have taken their turn, evaluate the exercise by reviewing the performance of each team.

Note: Best results are obtained when the discussions of each team are recorded on video and played back for evaluation at the end. If no video is available, each team should prepare a list of teams and give each one a rating of: good, average, or poor.

In addition, they should make notes on the specific strong or weak points they observed in the presentations of the other teams. Teams should not give a score to themselves.


Examples of topics for discussion

- Are men more professional than women?
- Should poor people pay for services provided by the state?
- Is squatting illegal?
- Is traditional medicine still useful?