To achieve step 4, individuals will need to understand the main reasons why others may want to communicate with them and to be able to identify when each is being used.
In the steps so far, the focus has been on the tools of effective listening, but to make progress individuals need to be able to start identifying what the purpose is behind what they are hearing.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
Some of the main reasons why people communicate are:
Sometimes communication might combine two or more of these purposes – for example:
Understanding the purpose behind someone’s communication with us helps us to be as prepared as possible for processing what is going on and responding appropriately.
If we misunderstand the purpose of the communication we might be unprepared to take any necessary actions after listening to the other individual. For example, if we think someone is presenting information we might not be prepared to process instructions. Or if we think someone is trying to be encouraging, we might be unhappy when they express a different opinion to us.
Communication always works better, and is easier to listen and respond to, when we are clear on what the purpose of the communication is.
There are some signs you can spot to help understand why someone is communicating with you:
In education, we listen to a variety of people on a daily basis, sharing lots of different messages. Our teacher or lecturer might share important information about an upcoming assignment or a peer might be looking for support around a particular problem. In order for us to be as prepared as possible for understanding what is going on and what is expected of us, it’s important to know why someone is communicating with you. This will ensure that you record important announcements or dates, accurately follow the instructions you have been given or understand another person’s opinion and build positive relationships with others.
In the workplace, we are expected to fulfil the requirements of our job role to the best of our ability. The processes we follow to do this, whether that’s on a factory floor, in an office or on a building site, can change and often we will be updated verbally. To ensure we are prepared to complete the tasks that are expected of us in a safe and effective way, we need to be able to identify why someone is communicating with us and what action we should take as a result. If a manager shares important information with you that needs to be quickly acted upon, whereas if a colleague is just sharing an opinion, it may not require you to do or change anything.
In our wider lives we may spend time with others, such as friends, family members, or teammates, and take part in discussions or conversations. When building positive relationship with others, it’s important that we respond appropriately to what is shared with us. A friend might share some negative emotions and understanding that they are communicating with you to share their feelings is important when trying to support them.
We might also spend time watching television, reading articles or exploring the internet. It is important that we understand the purpose behind different forms of communication. This will help us to be critical about what we read and hear, ensuring we can separate out when someone is sharing a fact and when they are just voicing an opinion.
To best practise this step of Listening, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This is a step that lends itself to regular practice in the classroom and supports effective learning. The teachers can ask learners to think about the communication they have just heard in the classroom and what the purpose of the communication was. For example, was the teacher encouraging, giving instructions, presenting facts or sharing an opinion?
This sort of modelling can be undertaken regularly and supported by visual reminders of the different purposes of communication up in the learning area.
This step lends itself well to being assessed through a simple exercise. For example, a matching exercise where learners are asked to link what they have heard to what they think the purpose of the communication was, or creating their own examples of communication with different purposes.
This step is relevant to most individuals who work with others in the course of their work, whether colleagues, customers or partners. Individual who collaborate with others on team projects may find developing this step particularly useful.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill step in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through observation and questioning. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: