learn about communication strategies that hinder effective group work.
communication patterns and strategies that prevent progress. Note: this
exercise focuses on obstructive communication strategies. The authors
realize that while this is a negative focus, it is a realistic one, because
proposals for change often meet with resistance.
Read Description of Communication Strategies sheet to understand
different types of communication strategies that can slow or prevent
progress. These strategies are common at meetings, especially meetings
about complex issues or issues for which solutions are difficult to
Read the Recognizing Communication Strategies worksheet to
familiarize yourself with the terms and descriptions.
Attend a community meeting on a local sustainability issue.
When the first person begins to speak, listen for his or her name.
Write the first speaker's name at the top of the column labeled "Speaker
1." Write the names of additional speakers at the top of the additional
columns. Listen to each speaker carefully, analyze his or her remarks,
and mark all "communication strategies" that you recognize.
Repeat this procedure for each speaker until the meeting concludes.
After the meeting, review your worksheet notes. Consider the following
Which strategies were used to impede progress on the issue being
Who used these strategies most often?
Discuss whether any of the following communication strategies were
observed at this meeting: - The focus shifts from attending to the
problem itself to alleviating the symptoms of stress. - Speaking up
so often or for so long that other participants cannot talk to the
Were strategies used that facilitated progress on the issue
(e.g. putting aside minor differences of opinion in order to foster
cooperation on an important issue?)
What were they?
strategies may be subtle and the speaker may not be conscious of using
them. Imagine different ways people could act out these strategies.
To gain experience and skill in identifying the different strategies
listedon the "Recognizing Communication Strategies" worksheet,
practice acting out the different strategieswith another participant.
worksheet for the exercise Identifying Communication Strategies
is combined with the worksheet for the exercise Recognizing Values
in Action. It can be useful to do both exercises simultaneously.
Heifetz, Ronald A. 1994. Leadership Without Easy Answers.
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
John M., Harold R. Hungerford, and Trudi L. Volk. 1989. A Science-Technology-Society
Case Study: Municipal Solid Waste. Stipes Publishing Company.