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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

9612-COMMUNICATION IN SMALL GROUPS

Paper at the International Leadership Training Program held at Islamabad 22 December - 6 January 1996 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.  MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Faculty of Medicine International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan Petaling Jaya Selangor DE 46700 Fax (603) 757 7970

 

OUTLINES

 

BACKGROUND READING

What is communication?

Communication process

Oral communication

Meetings and being in a group

Using the telephone

Meeting and greeting

Barriers to effective communication

 

TEXT ANALYSIS

Man given speech

Repetition in the Qur’an to ensure communication

Cross-check information

A good word

Insincere communication

Discussion (hewar)

A good word is sadaqa

Say good or keep quiet

Selective communication to avoid misunderstanding

Receiver of information may understand and benefit more than the transmitter

Greetings

Good argument

Say nice words

Prophet spoke clearly

Repetition for understanding

Meeting others with a cheerful countenance

Smiling

Salutations

Excellence of greeting first

Silence and listening to others

People hate being ignored

Shaking hands

Prophet spoke slowly

 

DISCUSSION

Richness of communication channels

Body language in communication

Listening habits

 

 

BACKGROUND READING

INSTRUCTIONS: THE DISCUSSION LEADER OR THE MEMBERS (IN TURNS) WILL PRESENT THE MAIN POINTS IN THE BACKGROUND READING SECTIONS PRE-ASSIGNED THE PREVIOUS WEEK

 

WHAT IS COMMUNICATION?

Communication is transfer of information from one communicator to another through the use of symbols. The meaning behind the symbols is interpreted subjectively by the recipient. The elements of communication are: Sender, Message, Medium, Receiver, and Feedback. The functions of communication are: Informing, Controlling, Expressing emotions, Motivating, Social Intercourse. Communication is the basis of social intercourse and the overall functioning of society. A good word is charity. Say good or keep quiet. Avoid bad words. Use polite even with people who have done wrong to you. Always must have a personal touch. Communication may be conscious or unconscious. It may be verbal (oral and written) or non-verbal. Non-verbal communication consists of: body language, physical appearance (hair, nails, cleanliness, wardrobe), manner of greeting (voice, hand-shale, smile) , image/impressions (public speaking, letters, faxes, behavior in public, behavior in crisis, quality of work delivered). Believable communication has the following characteristics: Emotionally honest, Focussed, Unselfish, Evidence-oriented, Respectful, and Appropriate level of intimacy. Perception is organizing and interpreting incoming information. Perception is selective being influenced by environment, background knowledge, and background attitudes. Communication is an essential leadership function. Leadership can be looked at as communication to modify the attitudes and behaviors of others in order to meet group goals and needs. Communication failure rapidly leads to leadership and organizational failure. Communication channels may be personal static such as a letter, impersonal static such as flyers, direct interaction such as face-to-face discussions, and indirect interaction such as a telephone conversation.

 

THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS

A communication process starts with conceptualization of the ideas to be communicated. The ideas or message are then encoded and put in a transmissible form. The message is then transmitted and is received. The receiver decodes or interprets the message before understanding it and taking action on it. The receiver of a message may understand it at a deeper level and benefit from it than the messenger. The process is completed by feedback from the recipient to the sender. Communication is a circular process involving a feed-back loop. Every communicator must monitor the feed-back to make sure that the communication process is effective. Communication is irreversible; every communication has a lasting impact. Think before you communicate. A negative impact can never be fully wiped out by later retraction or correction. A lingering negativity, however small, always persists. You should be very careful and prudent in selecting the information communicated, the target of the communication, the timing and circumstances of the communication to make sure the impact is positive. Communication must be precise to be useful. You can always improve the effectiveness of your communication by training and experience. Communication must be pleasant in order to be absorbed and appreciated. Good and positive words are more effective. A good disposition, friendly greetings, smiling and shaking hands, all help the communication process. The voice should be pleasant and convey warmth and friendliness. A sense of humor helps communication. You must however know where to draw the line. Too much or inappropriate humor indicates lack of seriousness and is negative. Humor usually involves laughing at human follies better yours or anonymous but not the recipient of your communication. Never laugh at anyone however good the justification. A sense of humor can get you out of a difficult situation. It can disarm an angry person. A person who insults or puts you down can be disarmed by an appropriate joke. Your communication style reflects your basic personality. You may learn a lot about improving your communication style. Never try to develop a phoney personality. Be genuine and be yourself. Content of communication is degraded as it is passed from one person to another because of the increase of the noise component and the decrease of the information content. Noise refers to those factors that distort the intended message.

 

ORAL COMMUNICATION

Face-to-face communication is usually the best because of immediate feedback. Important messages should be both oral and written. Success of oral communication (speaking and listening) is affected by language use, voice and inflexion, speed and volume, silence, and active listening. To be understood, try to speak clearly. Be concise and specific. Repeat to ensure understanding. Base your communication on objective facts. Watch for and if necessary ask for feed-back so that you are sure your message is going through. Communication with people you know already or those who are close to you is likely to be more successful.

 

Active listening is of critical importance in the communication process. An active listener must ask questions to understand. Ask open-ended questions for clarification and also for encouragement of the speaker. The questions should seek clarifications or additional information. Questions that pre-empt the speaker or that are hypothetical should be avoided. Questions remove ambiguity and create clarity. While listening avoid the mistake of confusing content with feelings. Separate and deal with each accordingly knowing that each is important. Talk less and listen more. Clear your mind of other matters before start of the conversation and give undivided attention to the speaker. Let the speaker know you are listening. Write notes. Give feed-back. Summarize or paraphrase some of what the speaker says. Be open-minded and not judgmental. Do not verbally or by use of body language show the speaker that he is ignorant or crazy. Do not be too argumentative even if you do not agree with the speaker. Listen, then think, then respond, then comprehend.

 

Measures can be taken to improve individual communication. These require training and constant practice. Face-to-face communication can be improved in various ways. Choose the time of communication carefully. People who are in a hurry or are engaged in another activity will not listen to you with attention. Focus on the topic of discussion. Do not say too much and thus create an information overload. Repeat yourself for emphasis, clarity, and make sure you are understood. Use simple but precise language. Watch for, ask for, and welcome feed-back. Take the initiative to ask questions to make sure you are understood. Listen more than you talk. Do not talk continuously, pause for questions and comments. Stop talking so that moments of silence may make the message sink in. Your pitch, voice inflections, volume, and speed must be appropriate for the listener, the type of message, and the circumstances. The speed of conversation is important. Too rapid is difficult to follow. Too slow is boring and causes the listener's mind to wander off. Learn to use body language to enhance your verbal communication and make sure that the verbal and non-verbal communication cues are coordinated and are not contradictory. Avoid careless talk. It is better to keep quiet. Not every correct things should be said. There are things that can confuse some people in some situations; these are better left unsaid.

 

MEETINGS and BEING IN A GROUP

The first impressions that people get about you at the first meeting are lasting. Make sure you project a positive but true image of yourself. Take care of your physical appearance. Your hair must be combed well, the nails clipped, your clothes and face clean and appropriate. Your greetings must exude warmth and confidence. Eye contact with those of the same gender enhances communication.

 

Before starting communication is small groups you can do something that facilitate the process: Greetings, shaking hands, standing up as a sign of respect, kissing, and embracing. Take the initiative to greet or shake hands first. Be personal and informal; the personal touch has a lasting impact. Meet others with a cheerful countenance and maintain it throughout the communication process. Express emotions and love for your partners. When sitting in a gathering, give place to the newcomers and let them feel welcome. The newcomer should also avoid displacing anyone. it is better he sits even at the end.

 

When in a group gathering always talk about Allah. Make a dua at the end of the gathering. Try to always sit and talk with the pious. Do not exclude the weak and the poor from your gatherings. When sitting in a group, do not ignore anyone. People hate being ignored. Try to involve everybody in the conversation. You can not engage in secret talks in the presence of others. You should also not use a language unknown by some of the people in the group. Be kind and generous to the young and respectful to the elderly. Never embarrass anyone in a gathering. Always pray for those who say or do something good.

 

USING THE TELEPHONE

When using the telephone, start with a pleasant but short greeting. Establish rapport immediately. Project a positive and credible image at the beginning; this will facilitate further conversation. Speak with a powerful and confident voice. Sound interested and motivated. Be brief and get to the point immediately. Pause and allow for responses. There are words and expressions used in face-to-face communication that will lead to misunderstandings in a telephone conversation because there is no supporting body language. Train yourself to signal that you want to end the conversation without offending your listener. You must learn technics appropriate to your culture of cutting off a rambling caller tactfully. When an angry, aggressive, and obnoxious person calls you, be careful not to get emotional. Listen him out and ask clarifying questions to understand his motives then act appropriately. It is always better to end such a talk quickly and plan a follow-up at a later time when the caller may be in a better emotional situation.

 

BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

(a) Prejudgment before communication leads to failure of the communication process. The recipient of communication must avoid assumptions and pre-judgments. Listen to the data and then judge. Cross-check information to be able to reach right conclusions. (b) Differences between communicators: self-image, status, roles, personality, cognitive, physical, social, cultural, vocabulary, and language. Behavior is the result of perception which in turn depends on selection and interpretation of information. Thus the same information can elicit different behaviors in different individuals depending on different perceptions. Background knowledge, attitudes, and environment affect the way the recipient perceives and interprets information.  (c) Distractions. (d) Emotional resistance to being on receiving end. (e) Time constraints. (f) Poor listening. (g) Poor speech. (h) Bad timing. (I) Unsuitable circumstances. (j) Multiple meanings of words. (k) Information overlord. (l) Verbosity. (m) Value judgement. (n)  Filtering

 

 

TEXT ANALYSIS

INSTRUCTIONS: READ OUT EACH TEXT ALOUD TWO TIMES. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE MAIN POINTS RAISED. WRITE DOWN THE MAIN LESSON(S) YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE TEXT.

 

MAN GIVEN SPEECH:

( Allah ) most Gracious !. It is he who has taught the Qur'an. He has created man: He has taught him speech ( and Intelligence) Qur'an 55:1-4

 

REPETITION IN QUR'AN TO ENSURE COMMUNICATION:

Allah has revealed ( from time to time ) the most beautiful message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, ( yet ) repeating ( its teaching in various aspects ) the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat: then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah's praises. Such is the guidance of Allah he guidance of Allah: he guides therewith whom he pleases, as Allah leaves to stray can have none to guide.

Qur'an 39:23

 

CROSS-CHECK INFORMATION:

O you who believe ! if a wicked person comes to you with any news ascertain the truth lest you harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done. Qur'an 49:6

 

A GOOD WORD

See you not how Allah sets forth a parable ? a goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches ( reach ) to the heavens. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. And the parable of an evil word is that of any evil tree it is torn up by the root from the surface of the earth: it has no stability.

Qur'an 14:24-26

 

INSINCERE COMMUNICATION:

There is the type of man whose speech about this world's life may dazzle  and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart: Yet is he the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loves not mischief. When it is said to him " fear Allah " he is led by arrogance to ( more ) crime. enough for him is hell an evil bed indeed ( to lie on). Qur'an 2:204-206

 

DISCUSSION (HEWAR)

Mujadalah:1

Kahf:34

Kahf:36-37

Shura:22-29

 

A GOOD WORD IS SADAQA:

"Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said, " A good pleasant, friendly word is a sadaqa" Bukhari 8:32

 

SAY GOOD OR KEEP QUIET:

"Narrated Malik " Who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet." ( i.e. abstain from dirty and evil talk, and should think before uttering" Bukhari 8:99, hadith # 157

 

SELECTIVE COMMUNICATION TO AVOID MISUNDERSTANDING:

"Ali said, " You should preach to the people according to their mental calibre so that they may not convey wrong things about Allah and His Apostle" Bukhari 1:95, hadith #1

 

RECEIVER OF INFORMATION MAY UNDERSTAND AND BENEFIT MORE THAN THE TRANSMITTER:

It is incumbent upon those who are present to inform those who are absent because those who are absent might comprehend ( what I have said, ( better ) that the present audience"

Bukhari 1:58, Hadith # 67

 

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION:

"Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said, " ( Religious ) knowledge will be taken away ( by the death of religious scholars ) ignorance ( in religion ) and afflictions will appear; and Harj will increase." It was asked, " What is Harj, O Allah's Apostle ( may peace pe upon him )? He replied by beckoning with his hand indicating "killing" Bukhari 1:70, hadith # 85

 

GREETINGS:

If you enter houses, salute each other a greeting or blessing and purity as from Allah, thus does Allah make clear the Signs to you; that you may understand. Qur'an Nur: 81

 

GOOD ARGUMENT

Naml:125

Ankabut:46

Isra:53

 

SAY NICE WORDS

Ahzab:70-71

Taha: 44

 

PROPHET SPOKE CLEARLY:

"Narrated Aisha: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) used to talk so clearly that if somebody wanted to count the number of his words, he could do so" Bukhari 4:494, hadith # 768

 

REPETITION FOR UNDERSTANDING:

"Abu Salam said on the authority of a man who served the Holy Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) that whenever he talked, he repeated it three times" Abu Daud 3:1037, Chapter 1374, Hadith # 3645

 

MEETING OTHERS WITH A CHEERFUL COUNTENANCE

"Abu Dharr reported: Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) said to me: Don't consider anything insignificant out of good things even if it is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance" Muslim 3:1383, Chapter 1093, Hadith #6359

 

SMILING

"Narrated Aishah: I never saw the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) laughing to an extent that one could see his palate, but he always used to smile only" Bukhari 8:74, hadith # 114

 

SALUTATIONS

"Abu Hurairah reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: By Him in Whose hand my soul is, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Should I not guide you to something doing which you will love one another: Spread out salutation among you" Abu Daud 3: 1434, Chapter 1851, Hadith # 5174

 

EXCELLENCE OF GREETING FIRST

"Abu Umamah reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: Those who are nearest to Allah are they who are first to give a salutation." Abu Daud 3: 1435, Chapter 1853, Hadith # 5178

 

SILENCE AND LISTENING TO OTHERS:

" Hadrat Abu Malik Ashjai ( Rad ) quoted from his father, who said, ' We used to sit in the company of the Prophet ( Salam ) and I was a small boy then. I did not see any one observing silence more than the Prophet did. Whenever the Companions talked much, the Prophet ( Salam ) used to smile" Hayat 2: 702

 

AVOID HURTING OTHERS BY SECRET CONVERSATIONS

"Narrated Abdullah: The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said, : When three persons are together, then no two of them should hold secret counsel excluding the third person" Bukhari 8:203, hadith # 303

 

PEOPLE HATE BEING IGNORED:

"Narrated Adi bin Hatim: We came to Umar in a delegation ( during his rule). He started calling the men one by one, calling each by his name, ( As he did not call me early ) I said to him. " Don't you know me, O chief of the believers?" He said, " Yes, you embraced Islam when they ( i.e. your people ) disbelieved; you have come ( to the Truth ) when they ran away; you fulfilled you promises when they broke theirs; and you recognized it  ( i.e. the Truth of Islam when they denied it." On that, Adi said, " I therefore don't care." Bukhari 5:478, hadith # 677     

 

SHAKING HANDS:

"Narrated Qatada: I asked Anas, " Was it a custom of the companions of the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) to shake hands with one another? He said,"yes" Bukhari 8:186, hadith # 279

 

"Al Bara b. Azib reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: Two Muslims will not meet and shake hand having their sins forgiven them before they separate" Abu Daud 3: 1438, Chapter 1862, Hadith # 5193

 

PROPHET SPOKE SLOWLY

"Urwah said: Abu Hurairah sat beside the apartment of Aishah while she was praying. He then began to say: Listen, O lady of the apartment, saying twice. When she finished her prayer, she said: Are you not surprised at him and his narration of traditions? When the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) gave a talk, a man could count it if he wished to count" Abu Daud 3:1037, Chapter 1371, Hadith # 3646

OHK, Sr. 1997.