for responsive communication
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
We 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 vicious cycle.
communication is a delicate balance between showing respect for others
by including them and showing respect for others by not imposing on
them. Overemphasizing our human likenesses we forget to respect our
human differences. Or overemphasizing our human differences we forget
our human likenesses. Neither can be emphasized to the neglect of the
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.
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