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Effective Communication

The basis of good communication is paying attention to what we are hearing, comprehending, and sharing with others so that we are communicating effectively. Learn about effective communication styles and types with this starter Qstream microlearning course.

Category: Leadership and Communication

Industry: General

Questions: 14

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Effective Communication

Navigate through the Qstream questions below to preview. Each challenge is designed following Qstream’s best practices for maximum knowledge reinforcement and engagement. This Qstream is free for clients to use as a starting point.

1. The Power of Communication >
2. Nonverbal Communication >
3. Factors to Determine Communication Style >
4. Listening and Retention >
5. What Isn't Being Said >
6. Hand Gesturing >
7. Active Listening Skills >
8. Understanding Speech >
9. Tips for Giving Feedback >
10. Task vs. Relationship Cultures >
11. Our Tone of Voice and Body Language >
12. Multitasking's Impact on Communication >
13. Speaker Cadences and Interruptions >
14. Communicating Across Cultures >

Follow the interactions on each screen to answer Qstream questions as a Participant.

Communication with others is the foundation of our lives. On average, a person hears between ______ words in a 24-hour time period.

Answer explanation:
Between 20-30,000 words in a 24-hour time period is an incredible amount of information; note that this doesn’t include any visual communication that we get through technology or the printed word. Our brains can process huge amounts of data, and a good deal of that is not understood, remembered, or acted upon.

The basis of good communication is paying attention to what we are hearing, comprehending, and sharing with others so that we are communicating effectively. Take time to pause when communication is important to make sure that you are understanding correctly and, additionally, that you are being understood.

Communication with others includes both verbal and nonverbal communication.

Which of the following types of communication are nonverbal?

Answer explanation:
We can convey many different meanings using body language and tone of voice. For example, let’s say you go into a store and the clerk asks, “May I help you?” Depending upon their tone of voice and body language, they can convey that they are either bored and offering to help because they have to, or that they seem genuinely interested in helping you.

When we communicate with others, we need to make sure that our words convey what we mean—and also that our nonverbal communication is “telling” others what we mean! If our verbal and nonverbal communication does not align, most people will unconsciously believe what our nonverbal communication is telling them instead of what we are saying verbally.

In today’s world, there is a myriad of ways we can communicate with each other—including in person, over social media, and via instant message and text.

While each type of communication can convey your message, which of the following key ideas should you keep in mind when deciding which one to use?

Answer explanation:
As technology becomes more prevalent in the workplace and in our lives, it impacts how we communicate with each other. Because not everyone has the same comfort level with every form of communication, it is important to think about with whom you are communicating, how you are communicating to them, and what will be the most effective way of getting your message across.

Using a means of communicating that is comfortable for you, but not for others, can send an unspoken message that they don't matter to you. When communicating, the most important thing is to get across what you are trying to convey, so think about what you want to communicate and the best way to do that before getting started.

Listening and speaking are important parts of communication, but the speaking side often gets more attention than the listening side.

Studies have shown that after a conversation, we only retain _____ of what we have heard.

Answer explanation:
We will not remember most of what was said in most of our conversations. We may not really be listening, or perhaps we are thinking about other things (like that overflowing inbox).

By paying closer attention, we can retain more of what people are saying. This will help us understand others better as well as build better relationships with colleagues, who will feel that we are listening to what they have to say.

When you are speaking with others, it is important to be aware of the context of how you are communicating. For example, in a meeting with your boss, some things may be left unsaid … until you get back to your desk. In fact, there are many things to consider when something isn’t being said in a conversation in addition to what is being said.

Which of the following should you keep in mind when you think something important isn’t being said?

Answer explanation:
In any conversation, the context and what isn’t talked about can be very important. A team member might not be comfortable bringing up a topic in front of the boss because it is something that involves them, but it could be really important for the team to talk about if someone else brought it up.

Or a team member could be directing your attention in order to send a message—even if they cannot say anything directly. For example, if you ask, “Is Tom a great worker?” and a person replies, “I always appreciate that Tom is on time,” it’s implied that Tom is not a great worker.

Listening for what is not being said, known as “discriminating listening,” is one of the four listening styles. You are seeking to “listen” to what the person is really thinking and feeling—even if they don’t say it out loud.

Finally, depending upon the context, some things should be left unsaid. If everyone knows that Jill was supposed to deliver by the deadline on Thursday but didn’t, bringing it up in the Friday staff meeting may not serve any purpose other than making her feel worse than she already does.

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you may have noticed that the staff, as a rule, won’t point a finger to show you where the exits are. Rather, they will motion to the sides of the plane with an open hand, with all the fingers together.

Why do you think these professionals are trained to use their whole hand when gesturing?

Answer explanation:
It might be easier to see where someone is gesturing if they use their hand rather than a finger, but in reality, the real reason that people are trained to do so is that hand gestures around the world mean different things to people.

Pointing with one finger is considered rude in some cultures, as is patting someone on the head or using the OK sign (making a circle with your index finger and thumb). The best way to avoid offending people is to keep your fingers together when indicating things to other people. This way you are not as likely to offend someone with your non-verbal communication.

To be better communicators, we need to practice both our speaking skills and our listening skills. A key skill is called active listening.

This is defined as:

Answer explanation:
We all want to feel that we are heard and valued. This is particularly true on teams, where we want to know that we matter. One way that we know that we matter is when our team members pay attention to what we are saying: they do not interrupt us, they give us their undivided attention, and they ask follow-up questions that show that they care about what we are saying. When we feel that the person listening is just waiting to jump in and share their stories without listening to ours, we often feel ignored. This hurts teamwork. Note that while inviting others into a conversation is always good, it is not considered to be active listening.

Active listening can include two of the four listening styles: appreciative listening and critical listening.

• Appreciative listening: Listening to enjoy a story or the information you are receiving.
• Critical listening: Identifying key points that a person is making. Critical listening also involves critical thinking: analyzing what the speaker is saying and figuring out what they are trying to convey.

When you are practicing active listening, think about these two styles. You will then be able to be more focused on key details and understand important messages.

Tip: Try listening to someone else for at least 30 seconds without speaking. Show them that you are listening with nonverbal communication, such as nodding your head.

We can think faster than someone else can speak.

In fact, we can understand a person speaking at 125 words per minute while we are thinking at ____ words per minute.

Answer explanation:
While we can understand speech at 125 words per minute, we can think at three times that rate. Because our brain has time to wander, it is often easy to miss important parts of what someone is saying. Or we might not remember what was said later because we were thinking about something else. Keep this in mind when communicating with people and try to pay more attention to what they are saying.

Being able to give and receive feedback is important when we are working in teams. Doing this well requires good communication skills.

Which of the following tips should you keep in mind when you give feedback?

Answer explanation:
Feedback in the moment is critical when it involves personal safety; otherwise, waiting to give feedback—choosing the time, place, and words more carefully than you would on the fly— can make it easier to hear. And, while it is important to provide feedback to others when you do it in a team meeting, the person receiving the feedback may just get upset rather than see the value of what is being said. To give productive feedback, choose an appropriate time and place, think about what you want to say, and focus on the behaviors that need to change. Don’t make it a personal attack on the person.

Giving feedback in an email does provide a record of what was said; however, as an email lacks the nonverbal communication cues someone gets in person, it can be easily misunderstood. Therefore, it isn’t recommended unless there is no other way to give feedback.

When giving feedback, use “relationship listening” (one of the four listening styles). This is when you are empathetic to the person and seek to understand what they are saying in response to your feedback.

It is also important that you are willing to receive feedback in return. This shows that you are all working together towards a common goal and that improvement is always possible for everyone.

Jill and Hiroshi are colleagues. Jill was born and raised in New York City, and her speaking style is very logical, direct, and fast-paced. Hiroshi was born and raised in Japan and has been in the United States for five years. His speaking style is more measured, less direct, and more slowly paced.

Jill and Hiroshi are looking forward to working together on a big cutting-edge project. However, they are frustrated that they don’t always communicate well.

What can they do to make improvements?

Answer explanation:
While the communication style of the U.S. is typically more direct, often with a rapid dialogue and people speaking quickly, the Japanese style is more measured with more pauses so that there can be miscommunication between the two styles.

Whereas people in the U.S. are often more focused on getting tasks done without needing to develop deep relationships with the people they are working with, the Japanese culture is more focused on developing relationships with the people that they work with first before focusing on tasks.

Both Hiroshi and Jill can work on developing a better understanding of each other’s preferred communication styles and then deepen their working relationship so that they can both adjust to improve their teamwork.

Studies show that our tone of voice and our body language can account for up to ___ of how we communicate with others.

Answer explanation:
It may be hard to believe, but up to 93% of what we communicate to others is through nonverbal means. This is why an email can be so hard! When we send written messages, we are limited in our interpretation of what is being said. We have only words to go by and thus lack the nonverbal context to better understand the message.

When communicating with others, pay attention to not only your words but also to your tone of voice and your body language. This will help you make sure you are communicating what you want to communicate.

We are all guilty of typing on our phones while we are listening to someone speak to us! We say that we are multitasking (doing multiple things at the same time).

But what effect does multitasking have?

Answer explanation:
While it may be tempting to think that multitasking allows us to be more effective, studies have shown that in reality, we are doing a single task that is being interrupted over and over when we multitask. Our brains cannot really multitask. Thinking that we can do two things at once, like operating machinery and texting, can result in huge safety issues.

Likewise, thinking that we can write an email and listen to our colleagues at the same time results in our colleagues feeling that they are not important enough to warrant our undivided attention and we also run the risk of missing important information that they are telling us. What neuroscientists find is that when we try to do too many things at once, we lose our ability to really focus on what needs to get done.

Research on communication across cultures shows us that languages have different speech patterns. For example, some cultures are comfortable with silence; others are not. Some cultures have a fast speaking style; others have a slower rhythm. Interruptions often happen when speakers have different rhythms, or “cadences.”

Studies show which of the following differences between the way men and women interrupt?

Answer explanation:
Research shows that men interrupt women more than they do men—even women at the highest level of their profession (such as a U.S. Supreme Court justice) get interrupted more than their male colleagues. It is important not to interrupt people who are talking. You can ask clarifying questions or add additional details after they have finished. If you are interrupted, try using one of these phrases: “I have a few key points I want to cover, but I will come back to you in just a moment” or “I would be happy to get your feedback once I finish. ”

Everyone brings value to the workplace. When you interrupt, you send an unspoken message to that person that what they are saying isn’t important. This impacts teamwork.

Cultural and language differences can make communication more difficult.

What can you do to help people understand you?

Answer explanation:
Idioms and proverbs are very common in our everyday language. However, their meaning can be hard to grasp, without having certain cultural knowledge.

Take a phrase often used in the United States: “to build the bench.” While it can literally mean building a bench, in the workplace, it means that you need to develop other people who will be ready to step in to help as needed. This is an expression from the sports world. A backup team sits on the bench beside the court or field, ready to go in when they are needed. If you are not familiar with this expression, it can be confusing when someone says, “I think we need to build the bench during this next project.” To help others understand you, be careful about using idioms.

Communication with others is the foundation of our lives. On average, a person hears between ______ words in a 24-hour time period.

Answer explanation:
Between 20-30,000 words in a 24-hour time period is an incredible amount of information; note that this doesn’t include any visual communication that we get through technology or the printed word. Our brains can process huge amounts of data, and a good deal of that is not understood, remembered, or acted upon.

The basis of good communication is paying attention to what we are hearing, comprehending, and sharing with others so that we are communicating effectively. Take time to pause when communication is important to make sure that you are understanding correctly and, additionally, that you are being understood.

Communication with others includes both verbal and nonverbal communication.

Which of the following types of communication are nonverbal?

Answer explanation:
We can convey many different meanings using body language and tone of voice. For example, let’s say you go into a store and the clerk asks, “May I help you?” Depending upon their tone of voice and body language, they can convey that they are either bored and offering to help because they have to, or that they seem genuinely interested in helping you.

When we communicate with others, we need to make sure that our words convey what we mean—and also that our nonverbal communication is “telling” others what we mean! If our verbal and nonverbal communication does not align, most people will unconsciously believe what our nonverbal communication is telling them instead of what we are saying verbally.

In today’s world, there is a myriad of ways we can communicate with each other—including in person, over social media, and via instant message and text.

While each type of communication can convey your message, which of the following key ideas should you keep in mind when deciding which one to use?

Answer explanation:
As technology becomes more prevalent in the workplace and in our lives, it impacts how we communicate with each other. Because not everyone has the same comfort level with every form of communication, it is important to think about with whom you are communicating, how you are communicating to them, and what will be the most effective way of getting your message across.

Using a means of communicating that is comfortable for you, but not for others, can send an unspoken message that they don't matter to you. When communicating, the most important thing is to get across what you are trying to convey, so think about what you want to communicate and the best way to do that before getting started.

Listening and speaking are important parts of communication, but the speaking side often gets more attention than the listening side.

Studies have shown that after a conversation, we only retain _____ of what we have heard.

Answer explanation:
We will not remember most of what was said in most of our conversations. We may not really be listening, or perhaps we are thinking about other things (like that overflowing inbox).

By paying closer attention, we can retain more of what people are saying. This will help us understand others better as well as build better relationships with colleagues, who will feel that we are listening to what they have to say.

When you are speaking with others, it is important to be aware of the context of how you are communicating. For example, in a meeting with your boss, some things may be left unsaid … until you get back to your desk. In fact, there are many things to consider when something isn’t being said in a conversation in addition to what is being said.

Which of the following should you keep in mind when you think something important isn’t being said?

Answer explanation:
In any conversation, the context and what isn’t talked about can be very important. A team member might not be comfortable bringing up a topic in front of the boss because it is something that involves them, but it could be really important for the team to talk about if someone else brought it up.

Or a team member could be directing your attention in order to send a message—even if they cannot say anything directly. For example, if you ask, “Is Tom a great worker?” and a person replies, “I always appreciate that Tom is on time,” it’s implied that Tom is not a great worker.

Listening for what is not being said, known as “discriminating listening,” is one of the four listening styles. You are seeking to “listen” to what the person is really thinking and feeling—even if they don’t say it out loud.

Finally, depending upon the context, some things should be left unsaid. If everyone knows that Jill was supposed to deliver by the deadline on Thursday but didn’t, bringing it up in the Friday staff meeting may not serve any purpose other than making her feel worse than she already does.

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you may have noticed that the staff, as a rule, won’t point a finger to show you where the exits are. Rather, they will motion to the sides of the plane with an open hand, with all the fingers together.

Why do you think these professionals are trained to use their whole hand when gesturing?

Answer explanation:
It might be easier to see where someone is gesturing if they use their hand rather than a finger, but in reality, the real reason that people are trained to do so is that hand gestures around the world mean different things to people.

Pointing with one finger is considered rude in some cultures, as is patting someone on the head or using the OK sign (making a circle with your index finger and thumb). The best way to avoid offending people is to keep your fingers together when indicating things to other people. This way you are not as likely to offend someone with your non-verbal communication.

To be better communicators, we need to practice both our speaking skills and our listening skills. A key skill is called active listening.

This is defined as:

Answer explanation:
We all want to feel that we are heard and valued. This is particularly true on teams, where we want to know that we matter. One way that we know that we matter is when our team members pay attention to what we are saying: they do not interrupt us, they give us their undivided attention, and they ask follow-up questions that show that they care about what we are saying. When we feel that the person listening is just waiting to jump in and share their stories without listening to ours, we often feel ignored. This hurts teamwork. Note that while inviting others into a conversation is always good, it is not considered to be active listening.

Active listening can include two of the four listening styles: appreciative listening and critical listening.

• Appreciative listening: Listening to enjoy a story or the information you are receiving.
• Critical listening: Identifying key points that a person is making. Critical listening also involves critical thinking: analyzing what the speaker is saying and figuring out what they are trying to convey.

When you are practicing active listening, think about these two styles. You will then be able to be more focused on key details and understand important messages.

Tip: Try listening to someone else for at least 30 seconds without speaking. Show them that you are listening with nonverbal communication, such as nodding your head.

We can think faster than someone else can speak.

In fact, we can understand a person speaking at 125 words per minute while we are thinking at ____ words per minute.

Answer explanation:
While we can understand speech at 125 words per minute, we can think at three times that rate. Because our brain has time to wander, it is often easy to miss important parts of what someone is saying. Or we might not remember what was said later because we were thinking about something else. Keep this in mind when communicating with people and try to pay more attention to what they are saying.

Being able to give and receive feedback is important when we are working in teams. Doing this well requires good communication skills.

Which of the following tips should you keep in mind when you give feedback?

Answer explanation:
Feedback in the moment is critical when it involves personal safety; otherwise, waiting to give feedback—choosing the time, place, and words more carefully than you would on the fly— can make it easier to hear. And, while it is important to provide feedback to others when you do it in a team meeting, the person receiving the feedback may just get upset rather than see the value of what is being said. To give productive feedback, choose an appropriate time and place, think about what you want to say, and focus on the behaviors that need to change. Don’t make it a personal attack on the person.

Giving feedback in an email does provide a record of what was said; however, as an email lacks the nonverbal communication cues someone gets in person, it can be easily misunderstood. Therefore, it isn’t recommended unless there is no other way to give feedback.

When giving feedback, use “relationship listening” (one of the four listening styles). This is when you are empathetic to the person and seek to understand what they are saying in response to your feedback.

It is also important that you are willing to receive feedback in return. This shows that you are all working together towards a common goal and that improvement is always possible for everyone.

Jill and Hiroshi are colleagues. Jill was born and raised in New York City, and her speaking style is very logical, direct, and fast-paced. Hiroshi was born and raised in Japan and has been in the United States for five years. His speaking style is more measured, less direct, and more slowly paced.

Jill and Hiroshi are looking forward to working together on a big cutting-edge project. However, they are frustrated that they don’t always communicate well.

What can they do to make improvements?

Answer explanation:
While the communication style of the U.S. is typically more direct, often with a rapid dialogue and people speaking quickly, the Japanese style is more measured with more pauses so that there can be miscommunication between the two styles.

Whereas people in the U.S. are often more focused on getting tasks done without needing to develop deep relationships with the people they are working with, the Japanese culture is more focused on developing relationships with the people that they work with first before focusing on tasks.

Both Hiroshi and Jill can work on developing a better understanding of each other’s preferred communication styles and then deepen their working relationship so that they can both adjust to improve their teamwork.

Studies show that our tone of voice and our body language can account for up to ___ of how we communicate with others.

Answer explanation:
It may be hard to believe, but up to 93% of what we communicate to others is through nonverbal means. This is why an email can be so hard! When we send written messages, we are limited in our interpretation of what is being said. We have only words to go by and thus lack the nonverbal context to better understand the message.

When communicating with others, pay attention to not only your words but also to your tone of voice and your body language. This will help you make sure you are communicating what you want to communicate.

We are all guilty of typing on our phones while we are listening to someone speak to us! We say that we are multitasking (doing multiple things at the same time).

But what effect does multitasking have?

Answer explanation:
While it may be tempting to think that multitasking allows us to be more effective, studies have shown that in reality, we are doing a single task that is being interrupted over and over when we multitask. Our brains cannot really multitask. Thinking that we can do two things at once, like operating machinery and texting, can result in huge safety issues.

Likewise, thinking that we can write an email and listen to our colleagues at the same time results in our colleagues feeling that they are not important enough to warrant our undivided attention and we also run the risk of missing important information that they are telling us. What neuroscientists find is that when we try to do too many things at once, we lose our ability to really focus on what needs to get done.

Research on communication across cultures shows us that languages have different speech patterns. For example, some cultures are comfortable with silence; others are not. Some cultures have a fast speaking style; others have a slower rhythm. Interruptions often happen when speakers have different rhythms, or “cadences.”

Studies show which of the following differences between the way men and women interrupt?

Answer explanation:
Research shows that men interrupt women more than they do men—even women at the highest level of their profession (such as a U.S. Supreme Court justice) get interrupted more than their male colleagues. It is important not to interrupt people who are talking. You can ask clarifying questions or add additional details after they have finished. If you are interrupted, try using one of these phrases: “I have a few key points I want to cover, but I will come back to you in just a moment” or “I would be happy to get your feedback once I finish. ”

Everyone brings value to the workplace. When you interrupt, you send an unspoken message to that person that what they are saying isn’t important. This impacts teamwork.

Cultural and language differences can make communication more difficult.

What can you do to help people understand you?

Answer explanation:
Idioms and proverbs are very common in our everyday language. However, their meaning can be hard to grasp, without having certain cultural knowledge.

Take a phrase often used in the United States: “to build the bench.” While it can literally mean building a bench, in the workplace, it means that you need to develop other people who will be ready to step in to help as needed. This is an expression from the sports world. A backup team sits on the bench beside the court or field, ready to go in when they are needed. If you are not familiar with this expression, it can be confusing when someone says, “I think we need to build the bench during this next project.” To help others understand you, be careful about using idioms.

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