Lesson 8: Improving Communication Skills

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 29–33


Objective

Each young woman will seek to improve communication within her family.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Bring a watch or timer for the communication activity in the first section of the lesson.

  2. 2.

    Prepare individual slips of paper, each containing one of the six “Barriers to Communication” role-play situations.

  3. 3.

    Optional: Prepare handouts of “Ways to Improve Communication in the Family” (see the end of the lesson).

  4. 4.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development

Good Communication Is Important

Activity

Divide the young women into pairs. If there is an uneven number of young women, you may want to participate. Each young woman should take a turn telling her partner about her favorite sport, talent, or pastime. The partner may not ask any questions or make comments. After about thirty seconds, have the partners switch roles.

Ask the young women how they felt about their conversations. Ask them to analyze what is wrong with this communication process. Point out that it is difficult to communicate with someone who does not respond to what we are saying. We may not have this problem with our family members, but we can always improve our relationships with them by improving our communication.

Scriptures

Ask the young women to find and read the following scriptures to help them understand the importance of good communication: Proverbs 15:1; 1 Peter 3:10; Doctrine and Covenants 108:7.

Chalkboard discussion

Draw lines that divide the chalkboard into four squares. Write “Poor Communication” in one of the top squares and “Good Communication” in the other. Have the young women suggest things that contribute to poor or good communication. Write these in the appropriate square. The suggestions might include the following:

    Poor Communication

  • Making no effort to understand each other’s needs and problems

  • Not choosing a good time

  • Trying to communicate in a noisy and disruptive physical environment

  • Not communicating with love

    Good Communication

  • Making efforts to understand each other’s needs

  • Planning for an appropriate time

  • Consulting with everyone involved

  • Communicating love as well as needs

  
  • How do you feel when you have something to say but no one seems willing to listen?

  • How do you feel when someone you love seems to be upset about something but doesn’t want to talk about it?

  • What are some of the benefits of good two-way communication?

List the young women’s ideas in one of the bottom squares under the heading “Benefits of Communication.” You might want to include the following:

  1. 1.

    Helps us understand others’ feelings, joys, and sorrows.

  2. 2.

    Helps others understand us.

  3. 3.

    Prevents problems caused by misunderstandings.

  4. 4.

    Helps us care about others and feel unity with them.

We Can Recognize and Overcome Barriers to Good Communication

Experiences

Ask each young woman to think of a time when communicating with another person made her feel close to that person. Have a few young women share these experiences with the class. Point out that these good experiences do not always occur in families.

Teacher presentation

Suggest that if the young women talked to the members of their families, the family members would probably agree that they would like to have good communication all of the time.

  • If the members of your family would like to communicate well with each other, what causes the daily confusions, misunderstandings, and frustrations that all families experience?

As you discuss this question, explain that bad habits and a lack of communication skills can create undesirable communication patterns in the home. But if the young women can learn to recognize and avoid common communication barriers, they can make a real difference in their families. Developing these skills now will prepare them for every phase of their future lives.

Write the heading “Barriers to Communication” in the fourth square on the chalkboard. Give several pairs of young women one of the following situations to role-play. After each role play, have the class discuss what the communication barrier is. (List the barriers on the board as they are mentioned.) Then discuss whether the sender or receiver is causing the problem, and discuss ways in which the barrier could be overcome.

Sample chalkboard

    Poor Communication

  • Making no effort to understand each other’s needs and problems

  • Not choosing a good time

  • Trying to communicate in a noisy and disruptive physical environment

  • Not communicating with love

    Good Communication

  • Making efforts to understand each other’s needs

  • Planning for an appropriate time

  • Consulting with everyone involved

  • Communicating love as well as needs

    Barriers to Communication

  • Sending an unclear message

  • Not listening

  • Ignoring the speaker

  • Not being trustworthy

  • Embarrassing someone in front of others

  • Not understanding each other

    Benefits of Communication

  • Helps us understand others’ feelings, joys, and sorrows

  • Helps others understand us

  • Prevents problems caused by misunderstandings

  • Helps us care about others and feel unity with them

Role-play situations

Situation 1

Mary: Well, all right, you can borrow my dress if you want to. But I really don’t like people to use my clothes.

Terry: I want to borrow it, but I guess I shouldn’t. (The speaker sent an unclear message.)

Situation 2

Linda: I’ll never try out for a part in the school play again! What do you do when they think you’re too skinny?

Her sister: I don’t know. Right now I’m trying to find out what happens on this television show. (The receiver was not listening.)

Situation 3

Little sister: (excitedly) I won the spelling bee in my class today!

Big sister: (looking in the mirror and combing her hair) How do you like my new hairstyle? (The receiver was ignoring the speaker.)

Situation 4

Connie: Whenever I tell you about a boy I like, you tell all your friends.

Kris: It doesn’t hurt anything. We’re just having fun talking. (The receiver is not trustworthy.)

Situation 5

Mother: Aren’t you playing on the basketball team anymore?

Rick: They won’t let me play.

Mother: You’re such a good player that they ought to keep you on the team.

Jan: The truth is that his grades aren’t good enough. (Jan embarrassed Rick in front of others.)

Situation 6

Mother: When I said I didn’t need the car, I didn’t mean you could keep it all day.

Sally: But you didn’t say I couldn’t use it all day. (The sender and receiver did not understand each other.)

Conclude this discussion by pointing out that we can help to overcome common barriers to communication in our families.

We Can Help to Improve Communication in Our Families

Quotation

Read the following statement:

“Each [family member] must be willing to do his part to improve, since the family unit is the basic foundation of the Church. Proper communication will always be a main ingredient for building family solidarity and permanence” (Marvin J. Ashton, “Family Communications,” New Era, Oct. 1978, p. 7).

Handout

The following is a list of various ways in which communication can be improved within the family. Distribute the handouts you have made to the young women. As each heading is read, ask the young women to suggest specific ways to improve this communication skill and to record these on their handouts. Ask them to relate these suggestions to their own family situations. You may also add ideas from the list below.

Ways to Improve Communication in the Family

Be a good listener. Look at the person who is talking. Don’t do something else that requires your attention such as reading or writing. Make appropriate comments so the person knows you are paying attention. Don’t listen only for the purpose of stating your own opinion as soon as the person finishes speaking.

Accept other members of the family as they are. Do not judge, condemn, or criticize each other. Do not say cruel or hurtful things.

Confide in parents and other family members. If, at appropriate times, you share things that are close to you with others, others can more easily do the same with you. Sharing feelings creates closeness and good communication.

Care about the interests of other family members. Let your brothers and sisters know that you care about their activities such as sports and hobbies. Show interest in what they are doing, attend activities, and do other things to support them.

Be affectionate. Give a hug or kiss to your mother or father, a pat on the back or a squeeze to a brother or sister. Tell family members that you love them.

Give sincere compliments and approval. Tell others what a good job they did or how much you appreciated something they did for you. Report good acts of one family member to the rest of the family, and write notes of approval and encouragement.

Keep confidences shared with you. When a member of your family tells you something that is personal, respect that confidence and don’t discuss it with anyone else.

Help to create a good environment for communication. Help to remove barriers of noise and confusion. Take time to have personal conversations with family members. Try to solve problems in family home evenings, family councils, or private interviews with parents.

Conclusion

Teacher presentation

Explain that good communication is a great blessing to a family, and one person can do much to improve the way that family members communicate. The young women can learn to recognize barriers to communication and develop the skills that help people understand one another.

Lesson Application

Ask the young women to listen to themselves and their family members this week and become aware of problems in communication. Suggest that as they recognize barriers or problems, they apply the communication skills they have learned. Suggest that they might want to teach some of these skills in a family home evening lesson.