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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Levels of Communication/Conversation

Nan Peck, Northern Virginia Communication College

Phatic Communication: Using conventional messages to establish rapport, to break the ice, and/or to end a conversation. You might hug, kiss, shake hands, bow, smile, make eye contact, and face one another. We exchange pleasantries by using cliches. Clich├ęs are overused expressions that have lost their original (content) meanings and have taken on new relational meanings. We expect phatic communication at the beginning and end of every conversation, regardless of our feelings about a person.

Examples: Hello. How are you?

I’m fine. How are you?

Hi. Paper or plastic?

Thanks for coming. Have a nice day.

You’re welcome.

Factual communication: Using events, making observations, offering knowledge to others in a manner which can be called chit chat or small talk. At business parties, we rely upon factual communication to network, to schmooze, and to work the room. Factual communication includes reporting what you’ve read in a textbook, what you’ve studied for a test, showing pictures of your children, and exchanging biographical information about yourself. Factual communication is relatively safe and most do this well.

Examples: I’m majoring in business administration.

I’m married with three children, two sons and one daughter.

Did you watch the basketball game last night?

What did we do in class last Friday?

Evaluative communication: Offering opinions, ideas and judgments to others. This is risky business because the odds are that others will reciprocate with their own evaluations, which may be different from yours. When people consistently use evaluative communication, they must be prepared for eventual conflict. Many U.S. Americans enjoy sharing at this level and feel that disagreeing with others is useful and invigorating. Unfortunately, many of us don’t use evaluative communication with a high level of competence. It’s important to consider the value of critical and creative thinking, as well as the relational meanings of messages that are exchanged. When using evaluative communication, consider carefully the importance of descriptive, provisional, and responsible expressions. Strive to avoid cautionary language, sarcasm, and nonverbal put-downs (e.g., rolling your eyes in response to another’s comments).

Examples: Of all my children, my daughter is the better athlete.

I thought that movie was excellent, particularly with the surprising ending.

I’m not convinced that your argument is well supported.

I agree with you!

Gut-level communication: involves sharing our emotions and feelings with another. We are sharing our very essence when we allow others to know our heart. This is risky business! Societies place constraints upon the specific emotions which can be conveyed (e.g., It’s good to express love; it’s bad to express hatred). We also have rules about when and how feelings can be expressed ("That was the wrong time and place for arguing with your spouse.")

Emotional intelligence involves interpersonal competencies including self-awareness, self control, flexibility and empathy.

Examples: I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity in helping me earlier.

I’m so frustrated with you!

I’m wish that I hadn’t called you that name. I hope that you’ll forgive me.

He called me! I’m so excited to see him again!

Peak communication: Coming together with another in an extraordinary way. Two individuals who are gut leveling experience a transformation when they are sharing the exact same emotion with the same level of intensity. This is also called, "communal-level communication." It’s as if, for the moment, two souls merge into one. Peak communication is rare, even among close friends and family members.

Examples: I love you. I love you too.

I’m so angry with you. I’m so angry with you as well.

I’m glad that we were able to fight long enough to get this resolved. Yes, I feel exactly the same way, glad that we communicated collaboratively.

I’m scared. I’m scared too.

Some General Thoughts about the Levels of Communication

The greater the need to communicate our feelings, the harder it is to do. Indeed, sharing our opinions and emotions is risky business. We minimize the risk when we move through the levels of communication incrementally. That is, each conversation ought to begin with phatic communication and move through the levels (however quickly seems appropriate) before moving to the more intimate levels.

Generally, we look for the other individual to reciprocate at the same level of intensity. There is a social convention to match levels. If the other initiates a conversation at the evaluative level, we often feel compelled to respond in kind. This is dangerous.

Sharing our ideas and feelings is generally reserved for those whom we trust. Trust is a function of confidence, commitment, and time. We generally share our essence with those we’ve known a long time. To do with others is pseudo-intimacy.

For more information about the levels of communication, consult John Powell’s book, Why am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? (Niles, IL: Argus Communications) 1969.

The Three Different Levels of Listening

Listening skills is one of the key essential ingredients in effective communication. There exist many different levels of listening, from listening on and off, to active listening.
When we are engaged in a conversation, it is extremely easy to pay little to no attention to what the other person is actually saying. We can easily become distracted by other thoughts and things which are happening around us. We might even be thinking about what we are going to say next.

Let us consider the breakdown of the various common elements involved in communication.

40% - Listening

35% - Talking

16% - Reading

9% - Writing

Thus we can clearly observe that listening is indeed an important communication skill which has to be learnt.
Listening gives our loved ones the feeling of being appreciated and respected. Ordinary conversations emerge on a deeper level, as do our relationships. When we listen, we foster the skill in others by acting as a model for positive and effective communication.

Many people believe themselves to be good listeners, but in reality, there is always room for substantial improvement. Tests have shown that, on average, normal adult human beings only really hear ONE THIRD of the words spoken to them.

All of us listen in different ways at different times. We listen better in some situations than in others. For example, some people listen effectively in the job, but stop listening when they get home.

Each level of listening requires a certain level of concentration and sensitivity. These levels are general categories into which people fall.

Depending on the situation or the person, these different levels of listening may mix together. In this article, i have categorized the levels of listening into three different levels.

As we move from level one to level three, our potential for understanding, retention and effective communication increases. We began to develop our listening style very early in life. As we grow older, we continue to strengthen our listening habits and patterns.

How many of us give any thought to our own personal listening style? The following may help you to evaluate your listening approach in most situations.

Level One

This basic level includes

- Listening on and off

- Tuning in and tuning out

- Being aware of the presence of others, but mainly paying attention to yourself.

- Half listening. Following the discussion only long enough to get a chance to talk.

- Quiet, passive listening

- Listening, but not responding. Little effort is made to listen; actually, hearing is going on but very little real listening is going on.

Often, a person at this level is making believe that he is paying more attention while really, he or she is thinking of other things. They are generally more interested in talking, rather than listening.

Level Two

At the second level, the individual hears sounds and words, but does not really listen deeply. At this level, people stay at the surface of communication and do not listen to the deeper meaning of what is being said.

They are trying to hear what the speaker is saying, but they are not making the effort to understand what the speaker means. They tend to be more concerned with content rather than feelings. They do not really participate in the conversation.

This level of listening can be dangerous because misunderstandings may occur since the listener is only slightly concentrating on what is said. At level three, it is obvious that the person is not listening by the way the person acts; however, at level two, this is harder to tell and the speaker may have the false sense that the other person is really listening, when he is not.

Level Three

This level includes active listening. At this level, people try to put themselves in the speakers place - they try to see things from the other person's point of view.

Some characteristics of this level include: taking in only the main ideas, acknowledging and answering, not letting yourself be distracted, paying attention to the speaker's total communication - including body language.

Active listening requires that you listen not only for the content of what is being spoken but, more importantly, for what the meaning and feelings of the speaker are. You do this by showing that you are really listening both verbally and nonverbally.

It is ironic that the passive skill of listening is a core component of good communication. Listen skills is an important step to developing your communication skills. Posts like "Establishing Effective Communication Skills" highlights the importance of listening skills in communication. Interpersonal skills are indeed important in our everyday life. With time and practice, you will definitely before a more effective and successful communicator.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Church Protocol & Etiquette (Part 1 & 2)

(Part 1)

Ministerial Etiquette & Protocol
Check Here For Powerpoint Presentation:

(Part 2)

An Exhortation to Church Service Etiquette
Cary Monaco

Several years ago I attended a sports/activities awards banquet at a high school which featured the women’s volleyball coach at a nearby university as guest speaker. Soon after he began his speaking presentation I became both disgusted and incensed. No, not about what he was saying, but because of the terrible lack of respect and common decency afforded him by many of those in the crowd of about 200 people.

As the poor guy tried to give his speech you could barely hear him over the conversations being conducted at the same time by both students and many adults. This in addition to people constantly coming and going, rattling snack wrappers, cutting up, and other rude and disrespectful behaviors. After about 10 minutes or so of it, much to the horror and embarrassment of my then teenage daughter sitting next to me, I told the people within our vicinity to be quiet and listen.

Such terrible and disrespectful manners amongst those at speaking events, concerts, plays and other public occasions are commonplace today. Of course, this lack of respect demonstrated towards others through bad etiquette has reached into local churches to varying degrees. One of the most sad aspects of the past many decades is that the world has changed the church more than the church has changed the world.

People used to dress in their “Sunday Best” for church out of respect for God, but in a society where it’s acceptable to wear shorts, sweats, t-shirts and tank tops most anywhere that’s quickly falling by the wayside. Also, folks used to exhibit behavior in church services which demonstrated respect for the speakers, singers, congregation, facilities and, most of all, for the Lord. However, in many churches even if the truth is preached those who desire to hear it are too distracted by the rude and irreverent conduct of others to get much out of it.

In many churches today it’s hard to get much out of it through the people coming and going, conversations going on, rattling wrappers, slurping drinks and smacking food. That’s not to mention the rowdy kids who aren’t made to sit up and shut up, the watch alarms, cell phone ring tones, and the invitation-killing sound of dozens of Bible covers being zipped up at the conclusion of sermons.

What’s being allowed to go on in many churches is a travesty. Bad manners in church are a reproach to God, His Word, preachers, and the churches themselves.


We’re to respect and glorify God at all times, but most especially in His house. Leviticus 19:30 reads, “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” Here the Bible directs to “reverence” God’s sanctuary. Certainly the application can be made to church services which feature ministry and worship to the Lord as did the Hebrew Tabernacle and Temple.

Psalm 29:2 exhorts us to “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name” and to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” When people are walking in and out of a church auditorium when it’s time to worship God in song, prayer, teaching and preaching is that giving the Lord the glory due Him? When conversation is going on at such times is God given the glory due Him? When people choose to wear exercise clothes and such to church rather than their “Sunday Best” is the Lord given the glory due Him? When folks are still somewhere in the building drinking coffee and fellowshipping after services have already started is our Savior given the glory due Him?

Yes, the overwhelmingly popular trend in churches is to gratify people’s carnality by making dress ultra-casual, ensuring that plenty of coffee and pastries are available, providing never-ending entertainment for all ages, allowing people to converse and move around as they please, and so on, but any honest reader of the Bible must surely conclude that this new tradition is contrary to the worship of God recorded and instructed in His Holy Word. More and more so the worship of the Lord in churches is being replaced by the traditions of man which revolve around worshipping self.

The “perfect” church of 21st Century America would include “mini” Starbucks and McDonalds in the foyer; the latest Nintendo machines in every Sunday School class; couches and recliners for everyone in the auditorium; vendor-ushers to bring hotdogs, peanuts and ice cold soft drinks throughout services; and a Christian rock group which sounds just like “Black Sabbath” or the “Grateful Dead” except with “spiritual” lyrics.

Such a church would sure to be wildly popular. Indeed, there are already thousands of them which have almost reached the standards of this “perfect church.” However, contrary to popular opinion, the Bible doesn’t teach that churches are to mesh and conform with society. (Romans 12:1,2; I Cor. 6:15-18)

Obviously the Bible directs that we’re not to be conformed to the world, we’re to be transformed from it. People should see a difference from the world when they come to church. They should see a people who are giving the Lord the glory due unto His name. They should see Spirit-filled saints who are honoring and reverencing God rather than a carnal-led congregation devoted to gratifying the flesh and glorifying self.


Truly, the worst thing about bad church etiquette is that it disrespects God; yet next to this is that it hinders those with spiritual needs. Those who contribute disruptions to church services should well repent and heed the words of Paul who wrote, “…but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13b)

How terribly hurtful and sad when people with whom the Holy Spirit is dealing are distracted due to the bad church etiquette of others. There’s the person who needs to be saved whose focus on the preaching is impaired by people continually conversing and going in and out. There’s the visitor looking for a church who can’t wait to leave because of the continual horseplay of the kids allowed to go on in front of her. There’s the church member who needs the message badly but misses so much through the crackling mint and cough drop wrappers, cell phone noises, beeping watches and other assorted disruptions. And, there’s the person under conviction who believes it must be time to leave when the invitation is preempted by Bible covers being vigorously zipped shut. (Why in the world don’t people have the common sense to wait until services are over before conducting their ceremonial Bible zipping?!)

Can there be any doubt that bad church etiquette is frequently used by the devil’s demons in their attempts to stifle the work of the Holy Spirit during services? How dare God’s people allow themselves to be such willing accomplices of the devil!

Not only does improper church etiquette show disrespect to God, it demonstrates it towards everyone in the congregation.

How disrespectful it is when someone is praying and there are those who are talking, cutting up, crackling wrappers, putting on coats, and the like. How disrespectful it is when someone is singing a special and there’s conversation and moving around. How disrespectful it is to the preacher when there are frequent distractions which rob him of having free course in preaching the Word.

Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” With that in mind, we need to conduct ourselves in church as we would desire if doing the praying, singing, teaching or preaching. Can you imagine how upset and frustrated that you’d be if you were in front of an audience trying to tell them something of great importance and there was all kinds of coming and going, conversation, horseplay, drinking, eating, beepers, wrappers and so on while you were trying to speak?!

Well, it’s even worse in church services because the speaker is trying to tell people the most important message of all, how to be saved from an eternal hell.


Wonderful things come forth through practicing proper church etiquette. The Lord will be reverenced and honored, receiving the glory due unto His name. The Word of God will have free course. The congregation will have the opportunity to experience the unhindered ministry of the Spirit. Visitors will be drawn to the church. The entire ministry of the church will become more effective for the cause of Christ.

What more motivation does one need in order to repent of bad manners in services and to begin practicing proper church etiquette?!

CONCLUSION: “Twelve Steps Towards Proper Church Etiquette”

Similar to the common sense move on longer car trips, use the restroom just before services.

In order to avoid walking into services late, leave home earlier.

Don’t be somewhere else in the building drinking coffee, fellowshipping, etc. when you should be in church services.

Write notes to yourself so that you can tell all of the enlightening things you have to say after church services rather than during them.

Don’t bring food or drinks into church services.

Turn off watch alarms and cell phones during services.

Don’t expect someone else to make kids whose parents aren’t at church to behave. At least give it a try yourself.

Consider how the way you dress relates to respect or disrespect for God.

Wait until services are dismissed before zipping up your Bible cover.

Don’t walk out of services during the invitation.

If you must have a certain cough drop or candy enclosed in a crackling wrapper, unwrap as many as needed for church and put them in a noise-free container.

Never, ever, be so utterly disrespectful that you clip your fingernails during services!!!


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