Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Communication Skills for Policy Change

In order to lead policy change, one must embody these communication skills:  clear and concise and a listener. When a policy maker is clear and concise they paint a picture to listeners (Mind Tools, n.d.) explaining their cause in order community members and lawmakers can understand.  However, even though an advocate may be enthusiastic and could talk about their cause for hours, one must be aware of how much information is share and keep communication concise.  When a person communicates effectively, they stick to the point and keep it brief. As an agent for social change, it is imperative that you share important points with community members and lawmakers but also give them an opportunity to determine the next steps in solving the problem (Mind Tools, n.d.).

The second characteristic, one must embody is a listener. A listener understands how the speaker feels about what they are communicating. A listener makes the speaker feel heard and understood and clarify information when unsure of the message (Helpguide, n.d.).  Communication is two-way.  If a person does not take the time to actively listen, they will not be certain if their message was heard correctly nor will they be certain that the speaker's actions to the cause will be appropriate.  Without a clear and concise communication and active listening, one can express how they are feeling.  These skills are necessary

Recently, I took a Communication Anxiety test which determined that I have mild anxiety in which I feel bit uneasy in some communication situations and confident in others (Laureate Education, 2011).    Depending on my audience and familiarity with the subject, my anxiety will either increase or decrease.  When my anxiety increases, the message is not as clear and I tend to ramble on which effects my articulation causing me to mumble and not express thoughts accurately .  As a listener, I have a tendency to not  focus on the speaker. Rather, I am on the computer checking emails, sending a text, or driving.  Multi-tasking skews the speaker's information and does not place value on their words and ideas. I need to work on attending to the speaker whether in person or on the phone personally and professionally.

References: (n.d.). Effective communication. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Communication anxiety [Interactive media]. Retrieved from

Mind Tools. (n.d.). The 7 Cs of communication: A checklist for clear communication. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from


  1. Melissa,
    You brought up the point of people being on their phone during a meeting. This is not only distracting to the speaker but possibly to others sitting nearby. Another area of concern is the sidebar conversation. As a speaker I wonder if they have another idea or disagree and why. As a participant it is distracting and makes it hard to listen to the speaker.

  2. Laurel,
    I agree the sidebar conversations make it difficult to listen to the speaker. As a speaker, how do you handle sidebar conversations? Do you address the conversation or attempt to ignore them?

  3. Melissa,
    Active listening is a vital skill for educators to master. If we cannot show children and their families we care about them and respect their opinions, we will have many conflicts and misunderstandings. People like to talk with others who make them feel valued. We must use our nonverbal communication, as well as our reflective language to listen to the people we come in contact with daily. People appreciate good communication skills and will reciprocate with respect for the speaker.
    Cynthia Thralls

    1. Cynthia,

      Absolutely, if we actively listen to someone, we can avoid misunderstandings. I have a friend who listens attentively to conversations, and when it is time to respond, often times, he does not respond with words. He makes a humming noise. At that point, I know he is thinking and processing what I am saying, and only when I ask, what are you thinking does he respond. Even a person fillers is part of one's communication and must be noticed.

  4. Melissa,
    The point of clear and concise is so important. I wish school meetings could be clear and concise instead of trying to fill the time, share the information and let us move on.
    Sharon Lloyd

    1. Sharon,
      I do not long meetings. I had a friend whose grandpa had four steps to public speaking: stand up, speak up, shut up, and sit down. At times, we need to be reminded people want information presented to them short and to the point.

  5. Hi Melissa,

    Your honesty is refreshing. Depending on the conversation or discussion, I made fade out of the conversation and start about other things. I use to joke that I was able to tune out other noises because I worked with preschoolers. However when I began to notice I was doing it more often in important conversation, I became aware of my overall communications skills; specifically listening. How have you worked on your communication skills?


    1. Vanessa,
      To be honest, I think my attention span for speakers and meetings are as small as a four year old these days. I quickly fade out, start talking to peers, or look important on my phone when listening to a presentation. I would say that communication skills that I once had need a refresher.