0708-Communication in Small Groups

Background reading material for Year 2 Semester 1 medical student PPSD session on Wednesday 15th August 2006 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Face-to-face communication is usually the best form of communication because of immediate feedback. Important messages should be both oral and written. Writing never conveys fully what is conveyed by direct face-face interaction. In a face to face situation the recipient is able to evaluate the honesty of the speaker by carefully observing behavior. 



Measures can be taken to improve individual communication. These require training and constant practice. For successful communication speak clearly, be specific, objective, repeat to ensure understanding, and ask for feedback. Make sure your have clarity of speech to be understood by trying to speak clearly. Be concise and be specific. Focus on the topic of discussion. Do not say too much and thus create an information overload. Repeat yourself for emphasis as well as clarity and make sure you are understood. Use simple but precise language. Repeat to ensure understanding. Base your communication on objective facts. Feedback is necessary to ensure that your message is going through. 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.


Communication with people you know already or those who are close to you is likely to be more successful. 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. 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 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. Be very careful about non-verbal communication. Your body language and appearance make statements about you. The message conveyed by body language may support or contradict that conveyed verbally. The body language message is more believable.



When arguing your case, start by establishing some common ground on which to build. Use only logical reasoning and avoid being emotional. If you have strong arguments be careful not to prove anyone a fool. That is the quickest way to lose an argument. Do not be defensive. Try to show advantages for others in agreeing with you. Plan: why? what? who to argue with? how? Choose the time carefully. Discuss with the aim of reaching agreement. Define area of disagreement. Watch for feedback. Do not talk about subjects you do not know. Concentrate, listen well, give undivided attention, paraphrase what others say to show you respect them, and be polite. Be calm, sympathetic, kind, and lower your voice. Avoid words that hurt. Do not be diverted to branches. Do not prejudge or judge hastily. Do not stereotype. Be brief and concise



Communication becomes careless when Avoid careless talk. It is better to keep quiet than to say something that is wrong, offensive, or misleading. Not every correct things should be said. There are things that can confuse some people in some situations; these are better left unsaid.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. August 2007