Guidelines for Using Verbal Messages in Communication

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has an M.A in instructional education.

Verbal messages can be improved and contribute to effective communication by focusing on several key concepts or guidelines. Learn about intensional vs extensional orientation, illness, facets vs inferences, and avoiding extremes to improve verbal communication. Updated: 11/18/2021

Intensional vs. Extensional Orientation

We've all had a conversation go awry. Whether someone misinterpreted what we had to say, or we felt like we weren't being listened to, we all know what it feels like to walk away from a verbal interaction feeling frustrated. In order to help us keep our conversational frustration to a minimum, today's lesson will provide some strategies for navigating our verbal messages during communication.

Our first tip for having pleasant verbal exchanges is to avoid falling into the trap of intensional orientation. Although a pretty abstract term, saying someone is oriented intensionally means they make judgments based on preconceived notions or stereotypes. For example, let's say a worker has to go and talk to the president of his company, he's never officially met her, but everyone tells him she is harsh and demanding. If this worker chooses an intensional approach to their conversation, he'll probably end up interpreting her words in a negative manner. His preconceived notions may make even her simplest questions sound like allegations to him.

To have a better chance at a positive interaction, our worker guy should employ an extensional orientation to their talk. Opposite of the intensional approach, a person with an extensional orientation bases opinions and reactions on what is personally observed and experienced. Employing this tactic will give our worker, and all of us, a much greater shot at a positive verbal exchange.

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  • 0:01 Intensional vs.…
  • 1:37 Allness
  • 2:24 Facts vs. Inferences
  • 3:15 Avoid Extremes
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
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Along with steering away from being intensionally oriented, we should also avoid allness when talking to others. Being rather easy to commit, allness takes on many forms. For instance, we're practicing allness when we assume we know all there is to know about a subject. If we say things like, 'I'm telling you, I've read everything there is to know about this and I'm RIGHT,' we're guilty of allness.

Like is often said, knowing you don't know everything is a great place to start. We also employ allness when we assume there is nothing more to explore about a subject. Communication killing phrases like, 'I've said all I'm going to say about this,' or, 'I've listened to ALL I'm going to listen to,' are hallmark allness phrases.

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