Effective communication

Effective communication involves both (1) active listening and (2) reframing a statement.

Actively listening

Exactly as the term suggests, this technique involves taking the time to listen without planning a response as the other person is speaking, without judging them, and without immediately offering advice. It is important also to pay attention to non-verbal cues, like body language, in order to ascertain a complete picture of what the person is trying to convey. Careful listening can help prevent misunderstandings, and can help to de-escalate conflict.

Reframing a statement

Once you feel that you have understood what someone is trying to express, the next step is offering a response. It is important that you establish with the person that you have been listening, that you have received the message, and that you take seriously what they are saying. You can do this by reframing: reflect back the essence of what you have heard, removing any hostile tone, and direct the conversation towards problem-solving.

There are four steps in reframing a statement:

  1. Acknowledge the emotion
  2. Remove the inflammatory language
  3. Restate the problem or issue
  4. Request or wait for clarification or validation

Here is an example of how to reframe a statement:

Statement: ‘I really hate Tuesday mornings. This whole thing just feels like such a waste of time.’

Response: ‘So my sense is that you’re not happy with how things have been going at the team meetings. What specifically has been bothering you?’

[1] Huggett, K. N., Warrier, R., & Maio, A. (2007). Early learner perceptions of the attributes of effective preceptors. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 13, 649-658. doi:10.1007/s10459-007-9069-z