3 Examples of Communication Skills in Action

It’s great to talk in general terms about communication skills. But to really understand how they are applied, it helps to see examples of communication skills in the context of particular situations.

So here are just a few brief case studies to demonstrate 3 particular communication skills.

First in our examples of communication skills in action is…

Adapting Your Message to Your Audience’s Values: Bob Asks for a Raise

Bob works hard at his job, but he hasn’t had a raise in a couple of years. He feels he deserves one and he has decided to approach his boss to ask for it. Bob’s boss, Mike, is a “by the numbers” guy. He is very focused on using statistics to judge how productive people are in the company. Bob knows this because he is required to turn in various statistical data to Mike regularly.

Bob’s first instinct was to have a meeting with Mike and tell him about how badly he needs the raise. He was going to tell him how he needs to put away more money for his kids’ college funds and to pay for a new car. But then he stopped and remembered the principle of considering the values of the person to whom you are communicating.

Bob remembered how important numbers are to Mike. So he changes his plan. Instead of focusing the conversation on his own needs, he goes over the numbers and puts together a solid case showing that he deserves the raise based on the productivity he has provided over the years.

Second in our examples of communication skills in action is…

Active Listening: Steve Connects with His Wife

Steve was exhausted from work when his wife, Sally, came home. So he was quite annoyed when she began bothering him with a list of complaints about her day. He was about to respond with frustration and tell her to leave him alone when he remembered reading something about active listening. It had said that simply naming how someone is feeling, repeating it back to them and showing that you’ve heard them can go a long way in helping ease tensions and creating a sense of understanding.

So Steve took a deep breath and focused in on naming what emotion Sally seemed to be expressing. He finally zeroed in on “overwhelmed” and replied “It sounds like your day was pretty overwhelming.”

Then he remembered that another step he had read about was to validate and empathize with the person’s feelings by expressing understanding of why the person might feel that way and sharing a similar story from one’s own life.

So Steve took another deep breath and said “I can understand you feeling overwhelmed. It sounds like you had a lot on your plate. In fact, I completely understand because I’m feeling the same. I had a long day at work with a lot of challenges.”

Suddenly, Steve realized the irony. He had been about to react with frustration to Sally precisely because he himself felt just like she did. Instead, they both ended up feeling heard and cared about and they settled in for a nice relaxing dinner together without the tension or fighting that might otherwise have ensued.

And the final vignette in our examples of communication skills in action is…

Using Body Language: Mary Comforts Her Daughter

Mary was working on some paperwork when her daughter came into the room upset. As the child expressed her feelings, Mary continued facing her computer and going about her work as she said comforting words such as “It’ll be OK honey” and “We’ll make things better.” She was confused when the child only continued to become more and more frustrated. Why weren’t her calming words having any effect?

Suddenly, Mary remembered that the majority of communication is non-verbal and realized that her non-verbal communication – staring away from her daughter and using a disinterested tone of voice – was conveying exactly the opposite of the calming message she hoped to transmit. She stopped her work for just one minute, turned toward her daughter, gave her a hug and, in a very soothing voice, told her again that it would be OK. This time, the effect was nearly instant as the body language and voice tone reinforced, rather than contradicted her words. Her daughter smiled and ran off to play.


Hopefully each example of communication skills in action has given you a little bit of insight into improving communication skills in situations that confront you in your own life. As you can see, the overarching principle is to be conscious about how you communicate. Stop and give some thought to how you approach each interaction and how you can make it as effective as possible.

Share with others

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!

Leave a Feedback

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>