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University of Guelph
Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
HROB 3100
Jamie Gruman

Chapter 4: Building Relationship By Communicating Supportively Building Positive Interpersonal Relationship  Positive Interpersonal Relationships are key to creating positive energy in people's lives  Positive relationships create positive energy  The effects of positive relationships are much stronger and more long-lasting than just making people feel happy or uplifted  When individuals are able to build relationships that are positive and that create energy, imporatnt physicohological, emotional, intellectual and social consequence  Positive relationships also help people perform better int ask and at work, and learn more effectively  Positive relationships help people feel safe and secure, so individuals are more able to concentrate on the tasks at hand  They are less distracted by feelings of anxiety, frustration, or uncertainty that accompany almost alls relationships that are non-positive  People are more inclined to seek information and resources from people who are positively energizing, and they are less likely to obtain what they need to succeed if it means interacting with energy-depleting people  Positive emotions – such as joy, excitement and interest – are a product of positive relationships, and these emotions actually expand people's mental capacities ◦ Feelings of joy and excitement create a desire of act, to learn, and to contribute to others  Positive relationships foster cooperation among people, so the things that get in the way of highly successful performance – such as conflict, disagreements, confusion and ambiguity, unproductive competition, anger, or personal offense – are minimized  Most important skill in building and strengthening positive relationships is the ability to communicate with people in a way to enhances feelings of trust, opennes, and support The Importance of Effective Communication  Problems with electronic communication are that: ◦ 1. People are bombarded with an overabundance of information, often poorly presented, so they are less willing to consume all the messages aimed at them ◦ 2. No one puts all these rapid-fire messages in context, so much of the information lacks significance or meaning ◦ 3. Effecive interpretation and use of the information still epends on the relationship the reciient has with the sender The Focus onAccuracy  The emphasis is generally on making certain that messages are transmitted and received with little alteration or variation from original intent  The communication skill of most concern is the ability to transmit clear, precise messages  When accuracy is the primary consideration, atempts to improve communcation generally center on improving the mechanics: transmitters and receivers, encoding and decoding, sources and destinations, and noise  Ineffective communication may lead individuals to dislike each other, be offended by each other, lose confidence in each other, refuse to listen to each other, and disagree with each other, as well as cause a host of other interpersonal problems  These interpersonal problems, lead to restricted communication flow, inaccurate messages, and misinterpretations of meanings What is Supportive Communication?  Definition: Seeks to preserve or enhance a positive relationship between you and another person while still addressing a problem, giving negative feedback, or tackling a difficult issue ◦ It allows you to communicate information to others that is not complimentary or to resolve an uncomfortable issue with another person, but in the process, strengthen your relationship  When supportive communication is used, not only is a message delievered accurately, but the relationships between the two communicating parties is supported, even enhanced by the inerchange  The goal of supportive commuication is not merely to be liked by other people or to be judge to be a nice person  Look at eight attributes of supportive communciation Coaching and Counseling  In coaching, managers pass along advice and information, or they set standards to help others improve their work skills ◦ Coaching focuses on abilities  In counselling, managers help others recognize and address problems involving their level of understanding, emotions or personalities ◦ Counseling on attitudes  The skills of coaching and counseling also apply to a braod array of activities, such as motivating others, heandling customer complaints, passing critical or negative information upward, handling conflicts between other parties, negotiating for a certain position  Skillful coaching and counseling are important in: ◦ 1. Rewarding positive performance ◦ 2. Correcting problem behaviors or attitudes  Coaching and counseling are more difficult to perform effectively when individuals are not performing up to expectations, when their attitudes are negative, when their behavior is disruptive, or when their personalities clas with others in the organization  What makes coaching and counseling so challenging is the risk of offending or alienating other people ◦ That risk is so high that many managers ignore completely the feelings and reactions of others by taking a directive, hard-nosed, “shape up or ship out” approach  Competent coaching and counseling depend on knowing and practicing these guidelines ◦ They also depend on maintaining a balance among the guidelines Coaching and Counseling Problems  Coaching situations are those in which managers must pass along advice and information or set standards for others ◦ People must advised on how to do their jobs better and to be coached to better performance ◦ Coaching problems are usually caused by lack of ability, insufficient information or understanding, or incompetence on the part of individuals ◦ Coaching applies to ability problems and the managers approach is “I can help you do this better”  Counseling ◦ Managers need to counsel others instead of coach them when the problem stems from attitudes, personality clashes, defensiveness or other factors tied to emotions ◦ Counseling applies to the attitude problems, and the managers approach is “I can help you recognize that a problem exists” Defensivenss and Disconfirmation  Defensiveness: Is an emotional and physical state in which one is agitated, estranged, confused and inclined to strike out ◦ Arises when one of the parties feels threatened or punished by the communication ◦ Self-protection becomes more important than listening, so defensiveness blocks both the message and the interpersonal relationships ◦ Defensive thinking may be pervasive and entrenched within an organization  Disconfirmation: Occurs when one of the communicating parties feels put down, ineffectual, or insignificant because of the communication ◦ Recipients of the communication feel that their self-worth is being questioned, so they focus more on building themselves up rather than listening  Look at table 4.3 Principles of Supportive Communication 1. Supportive Communication Is Based On Congruence, Not Incongruence  Congruence: What is communicated, verbally and nonverbally, matches exactly what the indiivdual is thinking and feeling ◦ Simply means honest ◦ It means communicating what you intend ◦ Relates to matching the content of the words spoken to the communicators manner and tone of voice ◦ Stiving for congruence, being honest and open, or demonstrating authenticity does not mean, of course, that we should blow off steam immediately upon getting upset, nor does it mean that we cannot repress certain inapprorpiate feelings  Two kinds of incongruence are possible: ◦ One is a mismatch beween what one is experiencing and what one is aware of ▪ For example:An individual may not even be aware that he or she is experiencing anager or hostility toward another person, even though the anger or hostility is really present ◦ Second is a mismatch between what one thinks or feels and what one communicates ▪ For example:An individual may be aware of a feeling of anger but deny saying that the feeling exists  Rogers suggested that congruence is communication lies at the heart of “a general law of interpresonal relationships” ◦ The greater the congruence of experience, awareness and communcation on the part of one individual, the more the ensuing relationships will involve a tendency toward reciprocal communciation with increasing congruence; a tendency toward more mutually accurate understanding of the communicaitons ◦ The greater the communicated incongruence of experience and awareness, the more the ensuing relationship will involve further communication with the same quality 2. Supportive Communciation is Descriptive, Not Evaluative  Theory X: Individuals should be mistrusted since it takes threats of punishment to motivate change  Theory Y: Individuals can be trusted to do what is right  Evaluative Communciation: makes a judgement or places a label on other individuals or on their behavior: ◦ You are doing it wrong; response – I'm not doing it wrong ◦ You are incompetent; response – I am more capable than you are  These sayings generally make other people feel under attack and consquently, respond defensively  They see the communication as judgmental  It is more threatening to provide negative messages when others may be emotionall wounded  Sometimes people try to resolve their own bad feelings or anxieties by placing a label on others: “you are dumb: implies “therefore, I am smart” and it makes me feel better  The problem with evaluative communication is that it is likely to be self-perpetuating ◦ Placing a label on someone else generally leads that person to place a label on you, which makes you defensive in return  Descriptive Communiction: Designed to reduce the tendency to evaluate and to perpetuate a defensive interaction ◦ It allows a person to be congruent and authentic as well as being helpful ◦ These steps may not work unless the other person knows the rules ◦ Involves three steps: 1. Describe objectively your observation of the event that occurred or the behavior that you think needs to be modified  Talk about what happened instead of about the person involved  Should identify elements of the behavior that can be confirmed by someone else  Subjective impressions or attributions to the motives of another person should be avoided  Describing a behavior, as opposed to evaluating a behavior, is relatively neutral, as long as the managers manner is congruent with the message 2. Describe your (or others) reactions to the behavior or desrcibe the consequences of the behavior.  Rather than projecting onto another person the cause of the problem, focus on the reactions or consequences the behavior has produced  Requires that communicators are aware of their own reactions and are able to describe them 3. Focus on solutions  Avoid discussing whos right or wrong  Suggest an acceptable alternatives  Be open to other alternatives  Helps the other person save face and avoid feeling personally criticized because the individual is separateed from the behavior  Self-esteem is preserved because it is the behavior – something controllable – not the person, that should be modified 3. Supportive Communication is Problem-Oriented, Not Person-Oriented  Problem-Oriented communication focuses on problems and solutions rahter than on personal traits  Person-Oriented communication focuses on the characteristics of the individual, not the event ◦ “this is the problem” rather than “you are the problem” illustrate the difference between problem and person orientation  Problem-Oriented communication is useful even when personal appraisals are called for because it focuses on behaviors and events  Person-Oriented communication often focsues on things that cannot be changed or controlled, and it can send the message that the individual is inadequate ◦ “You are dictatorial” and “ you are insensitive” describe the person ◦ “ I am being left out of decision making” and “we don't seem to see things the same way” describes problem  Imputing motives is person-oriented (it is because you want to control other people), whereas describing overt behaviors is problem-Oriented (you made several sarcastic comments in the meeting today)  Problem with person-Oriented communication is that, while most people can change their behavior, few can change their basic personalities  Person-Oriented messags often try to persuade the other individual that “this is how you should feel” or “this is what kind of person you are”  In building positive, supportive relationships, problem-Oriented communication should also be linked to accepted standards or expectations rather than personal opinions  Person opinions are more likely to be interpreted as person-Oriented and arouse defensiveness than statements in which the behavior is compared to an accepted standard or performance 4. Supportive Communication Validates Rather than invalidates Indivdiuals  Validating communication helps people feel recognized, understood, accepted, and valued  Communication that is invalidating arouses negative feelings about self-worth, identity and relatedness to others  It denies the presence, uniqueness, or importance of other individuals  Commuinication that is superiority oriented gives the impression that the communicator is informed while others are ignorant, adequate while others are inadequate, competent while others are incompetent, or powerful while others are impotent  Superiority-oriented communication can take the form of put-downs, in which others are made to look bad so that the communicator looks good ◦ Or it can take the form of “one-upmanship” in which the communicator tries to elevate himself or herself in the esteem of others ◦ one form of one-upmanship is withholding information, either boastfully or coyly to trip people up ▪ Boasting almost always makes others uncomfortable, mainly because it is designed to convey superiority ◦ another form is the use of jargon, acronyms, or words in such a way as to exclude others or to create barriers in a relationship  Rigidity in communcation is the second major type of invalidation: ◦ Communciation is portraed as absolute, unequivocal, or unquestionable ◦ Individuals who communicate in dogmatic, “know it all” ways often do so in order to minimize others contributions or to invalidate others perspectives ◦ Rigidity is also communicated by: ▪ Reinterpreting all other viewpoints to conform to one's own ▪ Never saying, “I don't know” but having an answer for everything ▪ Reducing complex issues to simplistic definitions or generalizations ▪ Resistance to receiving perosnal feedback  Indifference is communicated when the other person's existence or importance is not acknowledged ◦ May use this by silence, by making no verbal response to the other's statements, by avoiding eye contact or any facial expression, by interrupting the other person frequently ◦ By using impersonal words (one should not instead of you should not) ◦ Communicator appears not to care about the other person and gives the impression of being impervious to the other person's feelings or perspectives  Imperviousness means that the communicator does not acknowledge the feelings or opinons of the other person ◦ Either labelled illegitimate - “you shouldn't feel that way” or “your opinion is incorrect” - or they are labeled as ignorant - “you don't understand”, “you've been misinformed” or “your opinion is naive” ◦ Being impervious means to ignore or make unimportant the personal feelings or thoughts of another
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