is so important in life. It is the difference between being
heard, understood, respected and getting your needs met or
not being heard, giving and receiving mixed messages, misunderstanding
and misinterpreting people. Poor communication can lead to
poor self-esteem and low self-regard. There are many ways
in which you can improve your communication. On the following
pages are some examples, advice and strategies to employ to
increase the level of your communication.
clear, be heard, be direct, be firm but fair!
are considered the underpinning skills in communication, as
suggested by Hutchings, Comins & Offiler (1991).
Eye contact – looking at the person
you are talking with.
Facial expressions - showing you are listening
and responding to what the person is telling you or saying
by using facial expressions such as happiness, sadness, anger,
surprise, disgust etc.
Positive regard - treating the person with
Empathy – putting yourself in the other
person’s shoes and trying to see things from their point
Personal space – making sure you have
ample personal space between yourself and the person you are
communicating with. An arms length space is considered adequate.
Touch – physical contact can be used
to show reassurance, congratulations, support etc. Just check
out first that the other person is okay with this.
Disclosure – sharing personal experiences
and information, your feelings and opinions with the person.
Listening skills – showing you are
listening actively whilst they are talking and responding
Gestures – using gestures to indicate
size or direction and to emphasise what you are saying. Also
nodding or shaking head to show understanding.
Posture – your posture will convey
whether you are feeling interested or bored, tense or relaxed.
Initiating the relationship – finding
out what you have in common and seeing where you are compatible.
Developing the relationship – sharing
interests, activities, values and attitudes together.
Over the next few weeks try to include the skills you don’t
already employ. This will help to improve your communication
and Closed Questions
questions invite a full reply, with more information.
They encourage the other person to talk more freely, and to
think about their answer.
questions can be answered by one word –
Yes, no, maybe. They can be used for checking information,
or gathering facts but do not guarantee a lengthy conversation.
Examples of open questioning:
Why do you think that happened?
What does that feel like?
What is it about that situation that makes you feel nervous?
What would you like to do about it?
How do you get along with your parents?
How do you feel about what the bully did to you?
of closed questioning:
Do you watch Eastenders?
Have you tried that?
Do you like school?
Are you okay?
Are you angry about what the bully did to you?
If your conversations are always short, and you only get one
word answers (YES, NO, DON’T KNOW)… Think about
how you are asking the questions!
messages are a clear way of getting your message across. If
you want to be heard you need to make sure you are being clear
with your communication.
can do this by remembering some important points:
1 Ask to be heard. E.g. I’d like to talk to
2 Look directly at the listener.
3 Speak in a clear voice.
4 Use ‘I’ statements.
5 Check for understanding
6 Thank the listener.
I talk to you for a moment. When you … talk about me
behind my back it makes me … feel uncomfortable and
I feel I can’t trust you. I would like it if …
you wouldn’t do that. Thank you.
messages are about stating the behaviour of the person (and
not the person – therefore eliminating blame), stating
the effect their behaviour has on you, letting them know how
you feel about it (again, not portioning blame) and a possible
solution for you both so there is a win-win!
We can call these ‘I Messages’, as we are speaking
for ourselves and not blaming others. An example of the difference
between an ineffective ‘You Message’ and an effective
‘I Message would be:
‘You never come round for me when you say you
will. You always let me down!’
‘When you don’t come round for me when you’ve
said you will, I feel really let down. I’d like it
if I could count on you in future’.
try these effective ‘I Messages’ for the following
you……… I feel …… I’d
like you to …………
Being let down by a friend after having
planned an outing
you …...… I feel …….I’d
like you to ……......
are important for everyone - teachers, pupils and parents!
Strategies for better communication and dealing with anger
To be used when angry, (especially when both persons are angry
at each other). One person should say the words, ‘Time
Out’ and then agree a time to come back together and
talk about what is upsetting the person. This gives both parties
time apart from each other to let the angry emotion pass and
then when you reconvene you are able to talk reasonably without
anger. If you get back together and are still angry, do ‘Time
Out’ again until there is no anger.
‘Invasion of space – Step back’
To be used when in a heated argument and the space between
two people becomes too close. Person needs to step back (arms
length space so you can wave your arms in front of you without
touching the other person) to create an acceptable boundary
space between each other, thus not making the other person
If someone is shouting at you and not giving you a chance
to respond or have your say… Using a calm, clear, gentle
voice, say, ‘I can see you are angry, Can I speak?’
By not shouting back and using the lower voice, you invite
the person to calm as they will not feel threatened by your
calm voice and they should stop shouting at you.
If they continue to shout, you could say… ‘I can
see you are very angry right now. I have things I need to
tell you but we will do this later’. There may be occasions
when they are so angry that they continue to shout even after
you have used this strategy. It is important to remember that
anger can be very powerful and not take on their emotion.
Leave the room, walk away, reiterating that you will talk
with them later when they can talk with rather than shout