Communications Skills - Summary

Subject: Communications Skills - Summary
From: Rashmi Sethi <rashmi -at- its -dot- soft -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 10:49:43 +0530

<< ....... I need to organize for training material on the topics such as,
Verbal & Non verbal Communication, Listening Skills, Telephone Etiquette,
and E-mail Etiquette. I need to know what sort of examples/role play
scenario can I create to make the material interesting. Any
suggestions? Any Links? ....cheers rashmi....>>

Thanks a million to all who responded !

I got excellent inputs from Jo Baer, RUBOTTOM AL, Cascio Justin,Aruna,
Kalyan, Vidya, Kasturi Kalyanaraman and Nancy Hildebrandt.

Jo Baer jbaer -at- mailbox1 -dot- tcfbank -dot- com

I have no suggestions for examples or exercises, but I would add one more
topic to the list (if the company's physical accommodations warrant):
elevator etiquette. This is a pet peeve of mine.

Wait, I do have some suggestions for email and telephone etiquette
role-playing scenarios:

* Long, loud, personal phone call
* The person who just won't get off the phone once the original topic has
been covered
* Something about proper and improper uses of voice mail. For example, leave
a message stating your name, number, and a brief description of the topic,
question, or problem so the person receiving the message can be prepared
when calling back. This is so much better than just name, number, and please
call me...about what? (Some of this applies to email

My email gripes:

* The person who just has to have the last word. It is seldom necessary to
bother me with a reply that just says "Thanks."

* On the other hand, if there was a lot of effort involved, a brief thank
you note, with a cc to my boss, would be appreciated.

* For Pete's sake, proof your email! Look not only for typos, missing words,
etc., but try to consider tone of voice. Something that sounds perfectly
polite in person or on the phone can sound very harsh in an email.

* Don't forward every cute thing that comes your way. If I want that kind of
stuff, I probably have an email account at home that you can forward it to;
I won't have to waste work time deleting it.


I find that many of the industry pubs and other firms have lots of that info
on their sites. It may take a little "drilling down" but in the columnists
and careers categories there are lots of articles/columns about such
workplace matters. Try [Net
Objects], [I get NetworkWorld, so a subscriber # gets access
to their online data; it's free to subscribe],,,
etc. Of course, a web search will net you more hits than you can look up,
but there will prob'ly be a few gems...


Cascio, Justin Justin_Cascio -at- tvratings -dot- com

This is a very interesting project. Could you give some more details? I'm
not really sure what you're asking for-- seems you'd draw the scenarios from
real-life. Are you training an internal group, where you already know that
the class is made up of, for instance, WidgetMaster phone support people?

I recently took a one day class on verbal communication in the workplace
(one of those seminars they send the problem children to, if you know what I
mean) and we did some role playing. Basically the instructor would let
whoever had volunteered to participate in the role playing lead the
scenario, based on experiences they'd had at work where they didn't know how
to handle the situation. Then you can solicit responses from the group with
questions like, "What would be a good response to <whatever>?" and gently
guide them toward some positive solutions.

Aruna Aruna -at- icon -dot- soft -dot- net

Role plays
1. Let each participant be told a story or a long message in private.
Ask him to communicate the same to the others.
2. Peer feedback session - let a participant make a presentation using
slides. Distribute feedback forms to all the other participants. The forms
must provide columns for evaluation of speaker's performance
and the listener's understanding of the subject.
3. Ask each participant to read out from a book. Record the same. Play
it back to the participant. Diction, stress, pronunciation and flow of
reading can be evaluated.
4. Organize mock interviews. Reverse roles.

Non-verbal communication.
1. Body language - eye contact, fingers, posture. Attitude
indicators. Incorporate dumb charade techniques.
2. Written communication - Divide the participants into groups.
Outline different scenarios to each group, let them reproduce the same in
their own words. Have the other groups evaluate their performance.

Listening skills
The exercises above can be used again. One good exercise would be to relate
a message to a single participant ..preferably over a phone..and ask him/her
to relate the same to another person. The final participant has to relate
the message to the group.

Kalyan kalyan -at- aspirian -dot- com

Communication skills

Create in-house examples and cases.
The art of communicating. The "what, when and how " to say for diverse
situations such as sacking an employee, closure of a team/product,
relocation etc. Infact more of the sombre details, because it's here that a
person's tact and composure is best noticed. Encouraging, admonishing,
counseling, motivating, knowledge-sharing etc. can be other topics.

Methods of communicating: In person, individually or calling for a meeting,
email. etc. Stress the language. Simple, effective, warm etc.

Listening skills
Create mock situations for receiving calls, or for passing information down
the line. For ex: the project manager can take directives from the CEO and
pass it on to his team. Observe how people listen. Stress that for a good
conversationalist, one has to be a good listener too. Most people like to
talk, few are willing to listen, especially in animated topics!

Telephone etiquette
Such as announcing oneself or the company while attending a call, listening
to the caller first, asking the right questions, and remembering never to
put people on hold for long. If need be you can take messages for calling
back or something. (some of these are very basic. I'm sure you'll be able to
add more input).

E-mail etiquette
A common problem is either very cryptic (with full of self-made
abbreviations). Or else long and rambling mail. A via media has to be
sought. Where there are no grammatical and spelling errors. An informal
mail can be no excuse for shoddy writing.

Interactive session
Verbal communication
Create an A4 size page content on a common scenario like <your company>
merger with <another company>, or diversification into another area.

Ask this to be announced by every trainee as if they were addressing a
company meeting. The topic can vary. For ex, a developer can be told to
read about new functional specs. doc. And a Project manager, the launch of
new product.

Simultaneously assess the non-verbal aspects in the rest of the audience,
such as body language, posture, eye contact, interest, restlessness,
nervousness, esp. with the next speaker!

Create a similar situation with the explicit use of dumb charade.

To make assessment fair, only one topic has to be used.

Discuss the finer points in each individual openly.

Discuss the "what went wrong" individually.

Have a Q& A session or an open house

Have these performances rated on a scale of 10, on these aspects, and
efficiently judged.

Poise diction, clarity, voice control, flow, attention value and ease.

kasturi kalyanaraman kalyan_iyer -at- yahoo -dot- com

If you are doing it yourself, you can refer any of the books available on
telemarketing and direct marketing,
which deal with all the aspects you mention. The British Library has them.
Alt, you can check out sites on

Vidya vidhu -at- 123india -dot- com

'Purdue Online Writing' also gives u many other links and its one of the
best sites that i have come across...

Nancy Hildebrandt nhild -at- pacbell -dot- net

But with respect to verbal and nonverbal, be sure you include case
studies--actual situations that you could act out to show the different
between verbal and nonverbal. Have groups make up their own situations in
which they've noticed a mismatch between verbal and nonverbal, then have one
or two people in the group role-play the conversation. If you're looking
With respect to writing, bring in good and bad email samples. Have small
groups analyze what's good or bad about them, then write an improvement.
Include one that you think is good among many bad ones, have people guess
which one is the good one. From that exercise, as a group you can develop
the principles of what you think makes a good email message. Then have each
participant write an email message that they might write in a typical day,
and be sure to include all those principles.

Thanks & Regards,
Rashmi Sethi
Technical Writer
IT Solutions Ltd.
Bangalore, India
mail at rashmi -at- its -dot- soft -dot- net

Work : 91-80- 665 5122 /663 9039 Ext. 259
Home : 91-80-634 4496 / 664 9851

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