Behavior Identification – our first communication skill

By: Jim Wadford in Finding Focus, 3 years ago


Behavior Identification:

The Communication Skill of Behavior Identification is defined as “naming and identifying observed actions of another person.”  The purpose of this skill is to let the speaker know what you are observing and its effect upon you.

Naming a person’s behavior gives them the information needed for their understanding of why you are responding the way you are.  This skill requires that you send only objective and observable actions back to the other person. It is non-interpretative or inferential.  It is this kind of information that others observing could agree. It is purely descriptive.

To say that Jack did not like me, and this is why he did not speak to me is highly interpretive of Jack’s inner intention. Since we cannot know a person’s intention directly, we often infer or assume it.

Behavior Identification stops us from being judgmental and critical. So, to say that Jack, took several steps back, turned and walked out of the room would be naming the behavior without interpretation.

Behaviors that you can name back are:

  • Describing the volume or quality of tone: “Bill spoke loudly and quickly.”
  • Describing the language used: Jane said, “If you want me to cooperate with you we must more often
  • Describing the behavior of the body: “Carl sat in the wingback chair with his right leg over his left knee. The toe of his right foot moved up and down.”

Take a few minutes each day practicing this skill, and you will find that people will engage in a more profound way with you.  This skill is a simple one yet a powerful one for communication with others.  Coaches, teachers, doctors, and all other professionals will benefit from this listening skill.  Please use this skill often and like my post to discover the next communication skill from my training course.

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