have developed the handbook Responsive Communication over a
period of six years in workshops and training seminars for businesses,
governmental agencies and educational organizations. Again and again,
we found our clients having the same problems. Originally the problems
appeared to be as different as the stresses caused by structural
reorganization, the conflicts caused by ethnic and cultural
differences in employees, the increased entry of women into positions
of authority, the mid-life transitions of managers and employees, or
the introduction of such high technology as computers and other
electronic equipment into an organization.
we analyzed these very different problems with our clients we found
that difficulties in communication were at the heart of all of them.
This is not to say that there are not other serious issues to be dealt
with. But what we have found is that in our society we are not very
Communication distills the essential communication patterns you need
in order to become a better listener. These 50 patterns will help you
to restructure communication to increase your ability to respond to
others. Listening is the key to responsive communication.
Communication is not a set of rules; it is a set of tools. That means
that it is always necessary to pick the right tool for the occasion.
For example, we emphasize the need to avoid controlling others in most
situations. That doesn't mean that you should never control others. It
means that you should only exercise your control when it is right and
appropriate. And then you should not shirk your responsiblity because
of some idea of false democracy. The trick is to be able to pick the
right tools for the right occasions.
research and the research of many others in fields as diverse as
management, the psychology of stress, linguistics, and education leads
us to strongly believe that many of our current social, political, and
economic crises come from our inability to listen to others. We are
not getting the feedback we need from others. Both experience and
research tell us that in almost all cases it is more productive to
understand others than to try to control them. And understanding
others comes more through listening than through speaking.
often forget that communication cannot be reversed. You can never take
your words back or undo the initial effect. You can only add to it.
Most of our present habits of communication are just good money after
bad. We are talking only to make up for the unintended effects of
earlier mistakes in communication. We believe that taking more care in
the first place with what we say can short circuit this almost endless
effective communication is a delicate balance between showing respect
for others by including them and showing respect for others by not
imposing on them. Over emphasizing our human likenesses we forget to
respect our human differences. Or over emphasizing our human
differences we forget our human likenesses. Neither can be emphasized
to the neglect of the other.
communication is not necessarily being nice, it is being clear; good
communication may lead as easily to recognition of profound
disagreement as to agreement. The point is to accept the
responsibility for being clear and the responsibility for allowing
others to disagree.
speak louder than words. Every communication shows people what you
think about your relationship with them at the same time as you and
they are expressing your ideas. If the relationship contradicts the
ideas, it will be the relationship that will be communicated.
is always valuable to learn what others think but it is only sometimes
valuable to have others know what you think. This does not mean that
you should be devious in what you say about what you think. it just
means you should spend more time listening to others. It is simple
logic that if you are listening to them you cannot at the same time be
speaking. Good communication is knowing when to quit speaking and