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New training modules
The Communication Ball Game

Communication – we practise it daily. But do we really know how? On April 24th and 25th 2017, HSF presented their new training modules to a group of trainers in the “House of Democracy”. A special focus was put on communication so that the trainers are well quipped to help Civil Society Organisations with our most important interpersonal skill.

“There was a parking spot”, says a man in the middle of a room. His name is Ben Schernick and he is introducing a group of trainers for capacity development to a new workshop module on the basics of communication in the "House of Democracy" on the 25th of April for HSF's ToT.

“How do you understand that sentence?”, he asks and urges his participants to pick one of four words spread out in the corners of the room. “Facts”, says a piece of paper pinned to a chair in one of them, “self-revelation” another. However, most are gathered around the word “appeal” in the far right. 

One Sentence – Many Meanings

With this practical example of the “four-ears model”, social worker and communication trainer Ben Schernick demonstrates the different ways people can perceive a message. Additionally to its factual side, there is the self-revelation of secretly saying “I saw the spot, therefore I am a better driver than you” or the appeal to “pay more attention next time”. Additionally, it can further define the relationship sender and receiver share.

“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”

Communication Fail

So what if sender and receiver can't agree on the meaning of the message? Communication fails and misunderstandings lead to confusion or conflict.

This is where Schernick comes in. He helps companies sort out their internal communication problems. Because he knows: Clarifying a misunderstanding is more time-consuming and nerve-wrecking than the simple steps it takes to focus on good communication.

“It’s not always about finding a solution. Sometimes we just want to vent and be heard”

Just listen

“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”, explains Schernick the principle of para-verbal communication. The tone of voice, the pitch, and speed of your words define how your message is received. Often unintentionally. And sometimes it's just enough to listen. “It’s not always about finding a solution. Sometimes we just want to vent and be heard”, Schernick knows.

Communication problems can only be resolved by remaining empathic to the fact that we experience and interpret things differently. So that in the future, we don’t have to disperse into one corner of the room but can remain in the centre, calm and observant, knowing that we will resolve the issue with patience and understanding. 

3 Examples Of Communication Exercises In Brief:

  1. The Art Of Listening:

    A recounts an emotional story, B listens and C observes the process. B then summarises the story with the most important facts, including how A must have felt.

  2. Non-verbal Communication:

    People are joined together by their arms in a circle. Each picks a spot within their view. Through non-verbal communication, each individual spot has to be reached with the whole group.

  3. The Ball Game:

    Everyone gathers in a circle. A Tennis ball is thrown to an opposite person while calling their name. With time, more tennis balls are added. A mix of verbal and non-verbal communication should ensure that no balls drops to the floor.