Monday, November 17, 2014

Mismatched Communication Styles

By: Betiel Mussie

Many people fail to hear others when engaging in a conversation. This is due to a mismatch in their communication styles. In the article How to Listen When Your Communication Styles Don’t Match Mark Goulston discusses the two types of communication styles and its effects on a person’s active listening. The two types of communication styles mentioned were venter/screamer and explainer/belaborer. To venter’s explainers seem patronizing. To explainers a venter seem volatile and overly emotional. Goulston talks about the middle of the brain called the amygdala which deals with a humans’ emotional state. The amygdala hijacks your attentive listening when communicating with someone with a different communication style. Instead of listening, the amygdala reacts reflexively with whatever your hardwired reactions are.

The article continues with tips to work around mismatch communication styles for every type. For a venter your initial reaction is to calm them down but that makes the situation worse. To deal with a venter you should start by listening to everything they have to say and focus your eye contact on their left eye. The left eye is connected to the right emotional brain. This will make them feel like you really care about what they are saying. By the end of the conversation, you should relay everything they told you. By doing this they feel important, and it will help you stay centered and in control. For explainers, you should try not to let your impatience show while they are speaking. This may trigger them to talk longer because they feel that you are not listening to what they are saying. You should listen to everything they have to say and be patient because this is vital for them. You should repeat everything they said back to them so they feel understood. This may seem too much when communicating with others, but you need to be able to work around mismatched communication styles. The people you have conversations with are unlikely to change, and being more open and inviting may lessen their need to act the way they do.

I think this article has done a great job in explaining the different types of communication styles and how to deal with them. Sometimes when listening to others we have the urge to stop actively listening. There are times when we do not like how the other person is communicating. We tend to go into our own thoughts and think about how we will respond to their words, rather than really listening to what they have to say. In the end we have to try our best to work around these mismatched communication styles. These styles are engraved in people’s personalities and everyone you have a conversation with is not going to change just so your communication styles match.


Goulston, M. (2013, October 9). How to Listen When Your Communication Styles Don’t Match. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Communication Bias

By: Betiel Mussie

According to a study done by the University of Chicago, couples in close relationships believe that they have strong communication skills. In actuality these couples communicate no better than strangers. In a University of Chicago’s closeness-communication bias study, 24 married couples were asked to figure out the meaning behind vague phrases.  The study was repeated with the couples being separated, and placed with strangers. Initially, the couples were confident that they understood their spouses. Ironically it was shown that the couples and strangers results were statistically identical. Showing that the couples did not know each other as well as they thought they did.

I definitely agree with the University of Chicago’s study of “closeness-communication bias”. I think that when someone is in an intimate relationship, they don’t feel the need to explain things in depth. They assume the other will understand them due to their closeness. Some people don’t explain things in depth to strangers, because there are no emotional ties and closeness with that person. In the end we should all try to communicate as effectively as possible without assumptions.


Close Relationships Sometimes Mask Poor Communication. (2011, January 19). Retrieved October 20, 2014. Retrieved from

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tips for An Upcoming Speech

By: Seerat Sandhu

Do you have an upcoming speech? Are you feeling anxious and nervous? There are certain suggestions that contemporary research have provided about public speaking. The author, J. Dan Rothwell provides advice on how to effectively build confidence before a speech. The suggestions include:

Audience Analysis:  Before a speech, consider the needs, goals and hopes of the audience. Understanding an audience ensures that the speaker will be prepared to meet their needs.

Don’t Procrastinate: A well prepared speech can lead to a successful presentation. In comparison, a lack of thorough preparation often results in poor speech performance; reinforcing the speaker’s perception of difficulty in public speaking. Take time to work on the speech earlier so more research can be incorporated to build confidence.

Select an Appropriate Topic: A passionate topic can increase motivation and help manage fear. Knowing the topic ensures familiarity which results in confidence.

Be Organized: It is important that there is organization in a speech so that the audience can follow and remain engaged throughout the presentation. To get started, review the specific assignment and the guidelines.


Rothwell, J. Dan (2013). In the company of others: an introduction to communication. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Impact of perception in classrooms

By: Samridhi Sharma

How we perceive the world can be broken down into three steps: selection, organization and interpretation. First, selection allows us to choose consciously and unconsciously what we want to pay attention to. Next, organization allows us tocategorize information we select. Third, interpretation provides us with a frame structure to understand our selection and create a perception. These steps are completed within minutes of a new encounter, such as the first day of class.

In 2008, Communication Education published a study titled, “Students’Predispositions and Orientations toward Communication and Perceptions of Instructor Reciprocity and Learning”,conducted by Jerry Allen, Kathleen Long, Joan O’Mara and Ben Judd. The study surveyed whether college student’s communication was related to their perception of the instructors. More specifically, they examined the relationship between college student’s communication avoidance and socio-communicative orientation to their perception of the instructor’s immediacy, socio-communication style, and satisfaction with instructors and learning. The study concluded that, “Students’assertiveness and responsiveness correlated positively with perceptions of instructors’ immediacy and assertiveness/responsiveness, and classroom learning.” The study showed that communication styles of instructors affect how students perceive the instructor and the class.

So, while we are in the first few weeks of the new semester, here’s some advice for faculty and students: Professors- keep in mind how your communication styles may be perceived by your students and be open to being flexible by adapting your message. Students- acknowledgeyour communication style and how it is affecting your perception of the professor and your learning abilities. Moving forward, instead of saying my students/teachers aren’t listening or being responsive…take a step back and implement another approach of communicating. Remember, how we perceive the world is through our ownknowledge and experience.


Allen, J., Judd, B., Long, K.,& O’Mara, J. (2008). Students’predispositions and orientations toward communication and perceptions of instructor reciprocity and learning. Retrieved from

Monday, November 25, 2013

Trending Topic

By: Samridhi Sharma

      During the fall semester of 2013, Communication professor, Gordon Curry had his class complete an innovative project. The assignment was called “Trending Topic”, where groups of students were asked to research a local, regional, statewide or national issue that is important to college students. This multifaceted project consisted of an introductory video, a written proposal, a presentation, self-reflection assignment, and a preliminary annotated bibliography. Examples of trending topics include student loan debt, stress and student government.

      This project used a different approach to help students refine their communication skills. Instead of using lectures and speech prompts, this assignment allowed students to step out of their comfort area. Curry explains, the idea for this project stems from his “desire to give students something meaningful they could build toward during this semester”. Curry states, the goal of this project is to “help build students’ oral and written communication skills, teamwork, group collaboration, research skills, and critical thinking skills”.

       Many students stated they were stressed when they first received the assignment. Students had anxieties about the pressures of working in small groups. As the groups worked on the assignment, they began to enjoy the process. Students expressed there was an increase in their critical thinking and presentation skills. Student outcomes include, time management, conducting research and increasing oral communication proficiency.
      Through this assignment students were able to build on their knowledge of interpersonal and small group communication as they progress into the workforce. Group presentations were recorded at the Oral Communication Center on the Annandale Campus (CM 363). The Oral Communication Center (OCC) mission is to enable student success through improved speaking and presentation skills across disciplines.  NOVA students can work with trained speech consultants to develop and refine their skills for individual and group presentations.  The OCC offers services to students in CM 363 (by appointment).

(Left to Right)- Adilet, Mohammed, Jackson and Madison

Thank you for visiting our blog!
For personalized presentation feedback and assistance, please visit The Oral Communication Center at the NVCC Annandale Campus. Our office is located in CM 363 and we would be happy to help you succeed! 

To set up an appointment with a communications consultant please call 703.764.5091 or stop by room CM 363 to schedule an appointment in person. 

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Hope to see you soon,
OCC Staff