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Effective Communication Skills

Effective Communication Skills

Course No.  9331
Course No.  9331
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Course Overview

About This Course

24 lectures  |  29 minutes per lecture

Talk is something you do every day. And your life is literally shaped by it. Many of the decisions you make are decided by talking. You may be in a restaurant asking a waiter for an unusual substitution, urging a service manager to get your car finished sooner rather than later, or trying to sway your significant other toward a particular film or show. Or you might be trying to build more cooperative relationships at the office.

No matter why you engage in face-to-face talk, though, there's no way to insulate yourself from the dangers of miscommunication. Your ability to use the art of talk to effectively convey who you are and to build solid relationships not only influences the success of your friendships, romantic life, and everyday encounters, but also how you experience your workplace. Studies show that using conversational skills properly in that arena makes you more productive, happier, and less stressed.

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Talk is something you do every day. And your life is literally shaped by it. Many of the decisions you make are decided by talking. You may be in a restaurant asking a waiter for an unusual substitution, urging a service manager to get your car finished sooner rather than later, or trying to sway your significant other toward a particular film or show. Or you might be trying to build more cooperative relationships at the office.

No matter why you engage in face-to-face talk, though, there's no way to insulate yourself from the dangers of miscommunication. Your ability to use the art of talk to effectively convey who you are and to build solid relationships not only influences the success of your friendships, romantic life, and everyday encounters, but also how you experience your workplace. Studies show that using conversational skills properly in that arena makes you more productive, happier, and less stressed.

But the truth is that most of us don't understand nearly as well as we could how conversation really works, whether in the office or out of it, with both parties often having entirely different perceptions of what the words and gestures passing back and forth are meant to convey. Even more important, most of us aren't as successful as we could be in making those conversations work better for us. Even when we're more skilled at it than the average person, we often give up the opportunity to be even better, leaving a lot of potential success and happiness on the table.

Effective Communication Skills is your chance to learn more about how you communicate verbally, the common problems you can encounter in doing so, and how you can improve your own effectiveness—especially by overcoming the psychological and biological hard-wiring that too often gets in the way.

In 24 mind-opening lectures, Professor Dalton Kehoe of Canada's York University brings more than four decades of experience as an award-winning teacher, author, and successful business consultant to this exploration of what's really going in any conversation you take part in.

Learn the Techniques for Successful Communication

Building on many years of revealing research, Professor Kehoe explores the scientific foundation of communication skills and offers practical techniques for managing your reactions and speaking effectively in conflict- and tension-laden situations.

He explains the conversational roadblocks we all encounter every day—many of them driven by culturally ingrained and biological processes that operate automatically in most situations—and offers techniques for eliminating them. Each technique he teaches you has proven successful and effective in the toughest laboratories of all: the home, the workplace, and the other social arenas in which you live, work, and play.

You learn

  • how early cultural learning and deeply learned patterns of reaction in our unconscious mind affect how you see, think, and feel about other people and enhance or undermine your ability to communicate effectively;
  • how your sense of self develops in everyday talk during your childhood and the ways in which your subconscious is built to sustain and defend your self-esteem, shaping how you think and speak to others for the rest of your life;
  • the specific styles of talking you use in most situations, including different types of control talk—the unproductive and needlessly aggressive mode that almost always dooms a conversation to a fatal downward spiral—and the more desirable alternative of dialogue talk.

You'll grasp how the latter can facilitate bridge-building even between people who may have very different views of a situation, allowing them to resolve those differences without either party feeling they've been bullied into a solution or demeaned or humiliated.

Just as important, you'll learn the basics of perhaps the most important and neglected aspect of human conversation, the art of actually listening.

Discover the Secret of Active Listening

Professor Kehoe believes that what is called active listening, when done properly, is the only aspect of the art of conversation that engages all of the ideals of effective talk. These include

  • mindful attention, not only to what you're experiencing outside, but also to what you're experiencing inside, a dual focus that requires conscious effort and thus makes the listening active instead of passive;
  • an appreciative mindset open to the value, situation, and contribution of the person you're talking with; and
  • a willingness to meta-communicate, to draw back and observe the conversation from an objective point of view and discuss it from that perspective as needed.

While recognizing that this form of listening is indeed unnatural for many people and must be learned and practiced, Professor Kehoe believes it richly rewards anyone willing to make that commitment. That's because it is the only form of talking that helps solve problems and simultaneously enhance relationships, one of talking's most important purposes, whether at home or in the workplace.

One of the reasons it seems unusual to have to learn new ways of talking and listening is because many of our conversational habits are deeply ingrained, passed on to us culturally as we were being raised. Many others, meanwhile, are the result of biological and psychological processes that function automatically, developed as we evolved to enable us to react in situations when there simply isn't time to consciously plan a course of action, or to free up our conscious mind for other items demanding attention.

But as these lectures demonstrate again and again, as useful as these learned behaviors and automatic reactions might be under the proper circumstances, they can pose extraordinary difficulties when it comes to effective conversation. Defensive reactions developed to protect one's self-esteem, for example, are rarely helpful in settling a marital argument. And an adrenaline-fueled, "fight-or-flight" answer to a supervisor's stress-filled question rarely leads to a satisfactory workplace resolution.

Get a Solid Guide to Effective Communication

Winner of the York University Teaching Award and internationally recognized as an effective instructor by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Canada's University Affairs, Professor Kehoe has made this course a solid guide to the essentials of great communication.

One of his enduring lessons is that effective verbal communication is never as simple as you may think. Indeed, when you consider the complexities of conversation, it is a wonder that things ever work out as well as they do.

But things can work to your advantage, provided you have the knowledge and skills to communicate in the best possible way. Packed with the tools and strategies you need, Effective Communication Skills will open an extraordinary perspective on what really happens when you open your mouth to speak in order to get what you want.

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24 Lectures
  • 1
    The Magic of Everyday Communication
    An introduction to our "taken-for-granted" model of everyday talk reveals why you talk and the problems caused by underlying assumptions about the exchange. There are, as you learn, vital tools you can use to avoid these problems. x
  • 2
    The Complex Layers of Face-to-Face Talk
    Explore what really happens during face-to-face conversation by examining the conversational model developed by communication researchers. Discover that any two-person conversation really includes six people, and how different categories of "noise" dramatically affect the transmission of meaning. x
  • 3
    The Social Context That Shapes Our Talk
    How you understand the messages sent to you is shaped in large part by your culture and subcultures—the contexts in which you learned "normal" ways of seeing and hearing the world around you. Grasp the key dimensions along which cultures can be compared. x
  • 4
    The Operations of the Cognitive Unconscious
    Learn how a part of the brain unavailable to the conscious mind actually processes the vast majority of the information you take in, using a vast array of techniques to guide how you use that information, especially during face-to-face interactions. x
  • 5
    The Conscious Mind in Perception
    Take a key step toward talking more effectively by analyzing how you see things—the brain's "reality management" process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting incoming data. Grasp the pitfalls inherent in the brain's reliance on existing schemas and even stereotypes to make the process more efficient. x
  • 6
    The Conscious Mind in Using Language
    How do you interpret the information you take in, especially during conversation, when cognition must operate much more quickly? This lecture delves into the many pitfalls inherent in conversation, including the judgment tools we all use and the dangers in them revealed by Peter Senge's iconic "inference ladder." x
  • 7
    The Conscious Mind and Emotion
    As a society, we talk about feelings constantly. Yet at the individual level, our awareness of our feelings and ability to discuss them varies significantly. Learn how naming your feelings and describing them accurately to yourself and others is central to effective communication. x
  • 8
    The Development of Our Sense of Self
    How does your sense of self emerge and shape your relationships to others? What are the factors that differentiate one personality from another? Examine one model—the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator—and gain invaluable tips on how different personality types can communicate successfully with each other. x
  • 9
    Self, Attachment, and Self-Esteem
    Using both attachment theory and a self-awareness model called a Johari window, consider how self-esteem develops and how it can be characterized to reveal the emotions it embodies. Learn how we manage self-perceptions and self-presentations to preserve our self-esteem in daily interactions. x
  • 10
    Protecting the Self in Face-to-Face Talk
    Every conversation has the potential to either enhance your sense of self-worth or undermine it. Explore the techniques we all use to protect ourselves, with particular focus on the psychological defenses identified by Freud and the conversational model of Parent, Adult, and Child voices set forth by Eric Berne. x
  • 11
    Conscious Self-Talk and Self-Management
    You don't have to allow effective communication to be sabotaged by those automatic and often self-defeating defenses your mind puts in motion to "protect" you. This lecture offers practical techniques for creating positive internal dialogues and for being heard, understood, and accepted by others in difficult situations. x
  • 12
    Challenges to Effective Communication
    Professor Kehoe discusses several practical ways to turn what you have already learned into better communication. Learn the positive impact of concepts like mindfulness and appreciation, as well as how using meta-communication techniques can prevent a dangerous climb up the "inference ladder" during difficult situations. x
  • 13
    Talking to Connect and Build Relationships
    Begin your introduction to the professor's own model of human communication. In this lecture, learn the basics of "connect talk" at each of its stages, grasping the significance of procedural and ritual recognition talk before moving on to small talk and deeper levels of conversation. x
  • 14
    Differences, Disagreement, and Control Talk
    Understand what happens when "control talk"—the mode we use to influence or persuade—powers the conversation. Learn the difference between the light control that may well be useful in certain situations and the heavy control, driven by intense negative emotions, that rarely contributes to a positive outcome. x
  • 15
    Commands, Accusations, and Blame
    Plunge into the zone of escalation, where light control talk becomes competitive, tactics harden, and the battle of heavy control talk begins. Learn some useful techniques for managing your emotions and bringing your voice back to a level from which progress is possible for both parties. x
  • 16
    Healing Relationships with Dialogue Talk
    Gain an understanding of the only mode of talk that is not automatic. Instead, it requires choosing to be a mindful and emotionally generous meta-communicator, even in difficult situations, producing results that can be far more positive than those "achieved" through the win-lose, right-wrong, control talk model. x
  • 17
    Focus on the Other—The Heart of Dialogue
    What kinds of questions get people to talk openly? Learn how to ask these questions, and also gain listening and response techniques to keep them talking by showing your understanding of what they are trying to communicate. x
  • 18
    Assertive Dialogue to Manage Disagreement
    We all have to deal with difficult behavior, and doing so successfully requires being assertive, which is far different from being aggressive or using control talk. Here, gain valuable tools for asking for what you want with courage, calmness, and clarity. x
  • 19
    Compassionate Confrontation
    Sometimes a negative behavior persists despite repeated requests for change. When that happens, it may be time for "structured dialogue," a slowed-down and opened-up form of dialogue talk. Absorb the steps needed for a process that can be very effective, but demands time, focus, patience, energy, and self-management. x
  • 20
    Communication, Gender, and Culture
    Whether you are male or female affects how you communicate and use language. An exploration of what men and women actually mean when they speak—and why this is so—offers useful lessons on how best to hear and be heard by the opposite sex. x
  • 21
    Talking Our Way to Lasting Relationships
    Researchers have gained a knowledgeable grasp of why relationships develop and endure. Whether a relationship is one of friendship or romance, there are things you can do to not only enrich them, but make necessary repairs if they begin to either stagnate or fragment. x
  • 22
    Leadership, Appreciation, and Productivity
    The relationship between managers and employees is the bedrock of survival and success for all organizations. Learn how the quality of this relationship can be shaped by the quality of the communication between them—beginning with tools you can use as a manager. x
  • 23
    Dialogue and Appreciation—Engaged Employees
    Complete your understanding of the critical two-way interaction that determines a successful workplace as you look at the employee's role in building successful workplace communications. Grasp the techniques that make a practical difference in the success of both employee and employer. x
  • 24
    Dialogue—Ethical Choices behind Our Talk
    Listen to a summary of what you have learned, this time from the perspective of effective communication as a profoundly ethical process, and not merely one whose value lies in practicality. The goal is to speak in ways not only good for us, but for others, as well. x

Lecture Titles

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Dalton Kehoe
Ph.D. Dalton Kehoe
York University

Dr. Dalton Kehoe is Senior Scholar of Communications at York University in Toronto, where he earned his doctorate in social psychology. A teacher and organizational change practitioner for more than four decades, Professor Kehoe specializes in both interpersonal and organizational communications. In addition to being honored for his teaching-with the York University Teaching Award, recognition at the national level by both University Affairs in Canada and by The Chronicle of Higher Education in the United States, and being named one of the province's top 30 professors by Ontario's public educational network-he is a senior partner in a consulting firm that specializes in teaching organizations how to reengage their employees. As a public speaker, he presents seminars to organizations throughout North America on both the use of technology in teaching and on leadership and employee engagement. Professor Kehoe is an expert not only in face-to-face communications but in the use of modern technologies such as video streaming for effective teaching. His recent publications include Communication in Everyday Life (2nd Edition) and Communicating in Organizations: Complexity, Constraint and Creative Choice.

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Reviews

Rated 4.1 out of 5 by 56 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by An unexpected approach to improve communication I bought this lecture because I just took on some new responsibilities at work. Even though I don’t consider myself a bad communicator, I feel that things don’t always go well when talking to other people, so I decided to try this course. I was extremely, positively surprised by the contents and the messages of the course and absolutely loved it. Anything I heard about communication before, basically focused on the matters of the last few lectures of this course. While those certainly are the areas where one would obviously try to use effective communication (relationships, work), previous learning experiences have not resulted in a real and lasting solution for me. After this course, I finally understand why. After this course, I finally realize that to become a good and successful communicator, one first has to understand more about us as humans and why communication fails so often in the first place. Then you can learn how to change it. In this regard, Professor Kehoe’s course is structured very logically. After starting with a general introduction, he describes how our communication develops and is influenced by our social surroundings. He explains the cognitive unconscious and how it influences our conscious mind; how we develop our sense of self, and how we try to protect that self when we are talking. He differentiates different kinds of talk (connect talk, control talk, and dialogue talk), and then, after it becomes clear what the advantages and disadvantages of those are, he focuses on specific situations in the final lectures as described above. He finishes with a lecture that shows how dialogue talk and its ethical implications can improve one's life significantly. Professor Kehoe’s approach helped me to finally gain a better understanding of communication, because more lectures focused on the general premises of communication (lectures 1 - 19) rather than just the usage during specific situations at work or in relationships (lectures 20 - 23). Furthermore, he does use plenty of examples of everyday-life-situations througout the first 19 lectures to make them clear and understandable. The most important statements are shown in charts (many of them also included in the course guidebook), and important terms or names are also printed on the screen. In this regard, it was a very well presented lecture. The only criticism I have is that as much as I perceived the presentation style in general entertaining and enthusiastic, I found that at times the necessity to finish a lecture in 30 minutes lead to a rather fast and rushed presentation. Hence I took away one star in the presentation rating. I think that this is a course that everyone should take and it should be taught in schools. If the teachings were applied more in our life, it would make our world a significantly better place to live. January 27, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by Should Be Required Listening Many of the courses I've listened to over the years have been enlightening on an intellectual level. A few have reached deeper into my soul to be potentially life changing. This course is in the life-changing category. The course description provides a solid overview of what is covered in the course, so I won't regurgitate. Instead I will say that if you are interested in learning how to improve your communications with your spouse, your children, your friends, co-workers, and clients, you owe it yourself to invest in this course. Again, invest in yourself and your relationships and buy this course. If the Great Courses didn't guarantee it, I would. July 30, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by A Course Grounded in Solid Research I agree wholeheartedly with the stellar comments of the previous reviewers. This course far surpasses the multitude of pop-psychology books that have flooded the market over the last several years on this and related topics. The course is solidly grounded in scientific research and a good portion of the early lectures involve a discussion of that research. You've probably heard about some of the more famous experiments that Professor Kehoe discusses, but not all of them and many are quite interesting. When he moves from the theoretical to the practical, he avoids offering simplistic "I'm ok, you're ok" theorums and instead provides appropriately limited but practical advise. This course is about more than just communication. It's a course in cognitive psychology and a course in how people relate on an interpersonal level. If you have any interest in communication, I strongly recommend the course. It 's almost certain to be better than any previous courses you've taken or books you've read on the topic. June 9, 2011
Rated 5 out of 5 by Awesome, Powerful Course [Audio Version] I’ve done many expensive weekend seminars on self-help, relationships, and communication. Compared to the courses I’ve attended, Dr. Kehoe’s course is a solid winner. It’s packed tight with tips and techniques to satisfy the most critical of students. It set off creative fireworks that I have already applied to several projects. Professor Kehoe is smart, and speaks clearly and expertly with infectious excitement. This is a course you will probably want to take notes on -- there are myriad breakthrough concepts and strategies. Kehoe has given us a wonderful toolbox to get through to people, and get what we want and what our bosses, coworkers, lovers, et al.,also want or need. This is the real thing: how to have genuine relationships, how to be aware of our awareness, and truly recognize the uniqueness of others. Kehoe puts your hands firmly on the pedals and controls of dynamic, powerful communication that works. Dr. Kehoe uses numerous metaphors, but I could not help wondering why he never specifically mentioned the implied Master Metaphor that might well be the foundation of his course: ‘Life is a conversation; if we change our conversations, we can change our very lives.’ Hence, effective communication is effective living. Bottom line: this course, at minimum, will absolutely empower highly skilled communication. If you listen carefully, and take some notes, it will likely change your life. April 26, 2011
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