Example No. 4 (Time required: 15–20 minutes)

If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and choose to invest twenty minutes of class time to help students develop their communication skills, then you might select the following learning objectives and use the following classroom activities:

Learning Objective Students should be able to understand and practice neutrality whenproviding constructive criticism to a teammate.

Classroom Activity The activity focuses on the following statement “Neutrality is not making suggestions or judgments.”

(Exercise reprinted with permission.10)

When communicating with someone, our goal is to share our ideas, not to put the person on the defensive. If we suggest, judge, or give our opinions, others may feel that we are not neutral, and they will not trust us.Read the following non-neutral statements. Decide whether they are S (suggestions) or J (judgments). Then, rewrite the statements so that hey are neutral.

___1. It sounds like you were not playing by the rules.

___2. Why did you do that? That was a foolish thing to do.

___3. The best way for you to handle this is to ask your supervisor to move offices.

___4. It seems that one of you is lying.

___5. Do you think that you could pay Myosha for the computer?

Examples of Neutral Phrases

  • Can you tell us about the situation?
  • Can you tell us what happened?
  • How are you feeling about that?
  • How are you feeling about (e.g., him having to dominate staff meetings)?
  • Can you tell us more about that?
  • Would you tell us more about how (name) got the computer?
  • Can you explain more about (issue)?
  • Can you give some examples of how you think (name) is always messing with you?
  • What happened when (event)?
  • What was it like before?
  • Has this problem happened before?
  • I feel confused when I hear two different stories. Can we clarify again what happened?
  • What would you like to see changed?
  • So, in other words, when (name) says (what), you feel ___. Is that right?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
  • How could you have handled it differently?
  • Can you suggest a solution that will resolve the problem of ____?

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