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Exploring Communication: Peterson & Green (2009) note that research has found effective communication to be a core “building block” in familial relationship types, while ineffective communication is related to challenges such as martial problems (e.g., separation, divorce) as well as behavioral problems in children.

You will have the opportunity to apply what you have been learning about communication by observing and analyzing the communication skills of others. First, choose two of the following groups of people to observe:

  • Peers or colleagues
  • Children and adolescents
  • Family
  • Group of children (same age group)

You may observe adults communicating with adults, adults communicating with children, or children communicating with children. You may also choose the situation, or venue, where the observation will take place, such as a family gathering, a group of friends meeting for lunch, a group of children on a playground or in an early childhood setting, a meeting at work, and so on. Make sure to obtain permission from the group you are observing and explain you are not there to judge but rather record observations about communication skills. Encourage the people you are observing to interact naturally. If possible, try not to observe groups with more than five or six people. During your observation, look for the following:

  • Verbal skills and cues (formal/information, direct/vague, positive/negative)
  • Nonverbal skills and cues (intentional cues such as gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions; involuntary nonverbal cues such as blushing, body position, and tone of voice)
  • Listening (active, passive, defensive, attending, empathetic, reflective)

For this week’s Discussion:

Summarize the interactions you observed. Based on these observations, write a response indicating what you learned with regard to communication skills, including the following:

  • Which verbal and nonverbal skills and cues did you observe?
  • Which, if any, fostered communication? Provide examples.
  • Which, if any, impeded communication? Provide examples.
  • Were there any similarities and or differences with regard to communication across gender, ages, and/or context?
  • What, if anything surprised you about the communication you observed?

What did you learn from these observation experiences that will help you be a more effective communicator? In looking at the way that families communicate, what insight have you gained from the observations recorded?

Reference: Peterson, R., & Green, S. (2009). Families first: Keys to successful family functioning.