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Communication recommendations

Please find a number of recommendations on effective communication. The recommendations have been derived from several communication theories.

  • be inviting; acknowledge the other person; don't interrogate, but exchange
  • be attentive, honest and forthright
  • talk in terms of I, first person singular (as opposed to we and you)
  • don't complete someone else's sentences
  • allow the other person to tell about himself, don't project your own ideas on him
  • talk to people instead of about people
  • 'use' your discussion partner as a first resource for information about his background instead of a book or an expert, which can be referred anytime.
  • talk to someone as a person, not as a representative of his culture
  • general knowledge of traditions and customs offer a wide view of the world, but realise that it doesn't necessarily say anything about your discussion partner(s)
  • discuss phenomena rather than groups; so talk about the pork taboo and not about Muslims don't eat pork. This way you leave room for the other person to adhere to the taboo or not.
  • be empathetic and, if necessary, ask the other person for understanding of yourself
  • as much as possible, think twice about your own choices and limits, clarify relevant choices and indicate your limits in a timely manner
  • based on discovered differences between you and the other person, try to remain accessible to their value and try to discover and (re-)examine your own self-evidences, including those regarding language
  • if necessary, be constructively confrontational, preferably by humbly asking (critical) questions that may start the other person (and yourself) to think
  • be critical with respect to generalisations and stereotypes and don't use them yourself
  • avoid us-them contrasts, as they set off tensions and impasses
  • break through existing us-them patterns by speaking in the first person (I) and keep the content close to yourself
  • avoid accusations and power struggles and look for stimuli
  • if dilemmas, paradoxes, patterns, circular arguments or misunderstandings occur, and a suitable moment arises, discuss them with the use of meta-communication
  • avoid acting the victim, stimulate your own and the other person's power
  • listen to criticism and respond to its content, try not to feel offended
  • stimulate responsibility for own behaviour, both for yourself and for others
  • in case of clashing values, examine them with the help of meta-communication and clearly indicate your limits
  • avoid the culture excuse and talk about it to others who use it, explaining why ultimately it won't work
  • do as you say and stick to agreements
  • practice (self-) reflection regularly
  • in case of problems, get to the root of them, make contact with the person connected to the problem and discuss it in a decent manner (stop avoidance)
  • distinguish between the person and the problem

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