Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Defensive and Supportive Climates

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit with my very good friend, Dr. John Masterson. Dr. Masterson is the former provost at Texas Lutheran University, co-author of Communicating In Small Groups; Principles and Practices, and one heck of a lead guitar player (check out http://www.theharleys.org/). We were discussing how coaches communicate with their teams and he mentioned a book entitled Defensive Communication by Jack R. Gibb. The following is a quote from Dr. masterson's book giving a list of behaviors that Gibb describes in his book as fostering defensive and supporting climates:

DEFENSIVE CLIMATE (Dr. Masterson says, "Don't do this...")
  • Evaluation: Use of "you" language calls into question the worth of another person
  • Control: Efforts to get others to do what you want them to do.
  • Strategy: Planned communication - for example, saying something nice before criticizing someone.
  • Neutrality: Emotional indifference - the unspoken attitude that "you'll get over it."
  • Superiority: Attitude that you're better than the other person.
  • Certainty: Taking dogmatic, rigid positions; "Don't bother m with facts, my mind is made up." Those who behave this way are usually more interested in winning an argument than solving a problem.

SUPPORTIVE CLIMATE (He says, "Do this.")

  • Description: "I" language describes your own feelings and ideas.
  • Problem Orientation: Communication aimed at solving problems: "Let's find a solution that works for both of us."
  • Spontaneity: Here-and-now orientation; being honest rather than planning how to manipulate.
  • Empathy: Emotional involvement; nonverbal behavior is important.
  • Equality: Communication based on mutual respect; "I'm okay, you're okay."
  • Provisionalism: Openness to receiving new information; showing some flexibility in the positions you take.

I think this is important to understand that our communication with our respective teams can and should utilize these techniques. Your players will take ownership in the program. Most coaches refer to their teams as family, then if we are true to our word, we must treat them in that same regard when communicating with them.

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