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"We all use language to communicate, to express ourselves, to get our ideas across, and to connect with the person to whom we are speaking. When a relationship is working, the act of communicating seems to flow relatively effortlessly. When a relationship is deteriorating, the act of communicating can be as frustrating as climbing a hill of sand."
- Chip Rose, attorney and mediator
The act of communicating involves verbal, nonverbal, and para verbal components. The verbal component refers to the content of ourmessage‚ the choice and arrangement of our words. The nonverbal component refers to the message we send through our body language. The paraverbal component refers to how we say what we say - the tone, pacing and volume of our voices.
In order to communicate effectively, we must use all three components to do two things:
Our use of language has tremendous power in the type of atmosphere that is created at the problem-solving table. Words that are critical, blaming, judgmental or accusatory tend to create a resistant and defensive mindset that is not conducive to productive problem solving. On the other hand, we can choose words that normalize the issues and problems and reduce resistance. Phrases such as "in some districts, people may . . .", "it is not uncommon for . . ." and "for some folks in similar situations" are examples of this.
Sending effective messages requires that we state our point of view as briefly and succinctly as possible. Listening to a rambling, unorganized speaker is tedious and discouraging - why continue to listenwhen there is no interchange? Lengthy dissertations and circuitous explanations are confusing to the listenerand the message loses its concreteness,relevance, and impact. This is your opportunity to help the listener understand YOUR perspective and pointof view. Choose your words with theintent of making your message as clear as possible, avoiding jargon and unnecessary, tangential information.
Facial Expression: The face is perhaps the most important conveyor of emotional information. A face can light up with enthusiasm, energy, and approval, express confusion or boredom, and scowl with displeasure. The eyes are particularly expressive in telegraphing joy, sadness, anger, or confusion.
Postures and Gestures: Our body postures can create a feeling of warm openness or cold rejection. For example, when someone faces us, sitting quietly with hands loosely folded in the lap, a feeling of anticipation and interest is created. A posture of arms crossed on the chest portrays a feeling of inflexibility. The action of gathering up one\'s materials and reaching for a purse signals a desire to end the conversation.