Communication Tools for a Smoother Life | Bernadette Kapocias | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Assertive Messages

    • 3. Perception Checking

    • 4. Listening

    • 5. "I" Statements

    • 6. Effective Apologies

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About This Class

This class will teach you concrete, step-by-step skills that you can use every day to give you more control over how your relationships unfold. I'm convinced that a big part of the meaning of life is all about how you well you enhance or maintain your relationships with people. This brief class will give you lots of skills you can use to make your life easier.

Meet Your Teacher

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Bernadette Kapocias

Quick Lessons for Better Communication


I am a professor of communication with over 20 years of teaching experience. What I love most about what I teach is that 1) good communication skills can be learned, 2) bad communication habits can be unlearned, and 3) practice with proven techniques can make our lives easier and happier, and our relationships more peaceful and fulfilling.

I hold both master's and bachelor's degrees in speech communication (with a minor in psychology). In grad school, I did my thesis work on communication apprehension. In my teaching, I focus on interpersonal communication, public speaking, group communication, and gender communication.

In my spare time, I like to do crafts (especially glass art), travel, and play with my dog. 

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1. Introduction: thank you for enrolling in this course. I'm really glad that you're here. I know you have great relationships with people. You have your friends, you have your family coworkers who you get along great with, and generally with these people. Thanks. Go great. There are times, though, even in the best of relationships where you hit a bump in the road some kind of a hiccup and with better communication skills, you can make those occasions brief and handled the situation well, So then you can get back to having your good relationship with them. You probably also have people in your life that you deal with under difficult circumstances . In this course, I'll tell you a story about a customer service representative that I had the pleasure of speaking with at the thing with customer service representatives is that what brings those people to them is a frustration Before the conversation starts, somebody's cranky in this course. I'll talk to you about how to make those types of conversations that successful and brief and efficient and carrying right. So then you can both get on with your lovely days. My name is Bernie. Dad. I am a professor of communication. I have more than 20 years experience teaching, public speaking and group communication and interpersonal communication. And I love what I do because I get to teach communication skills to my students and then they can go forth and use those skills in their life, and they could have a significantly better life because of the communication skills that we talk about in my class. So I've chosen my top five favorite lessons that I enjoy teaching in my classes and I bring them to you today. So we're gonna talk about assertive messages. We're gonna talk about how to do a really good apology. We're gonna talk about perception checking, and we're gonna talk about listening. Here's a little pro tip for you. Almost nobody thinks that they need help with listening. But almost everybody does need help with listening. So we're gonna talk about listening, and I have to really good skills for you for that and that we're gonna end with my favorite lesson and that is I statements and I statements are gold. They're pure goal. And so I'm really excited to bring those to you today as well. Have you here? Let's get started 2. Assertive Messages: there are four main ways to deal with conflict. The first way is to be passive just to let it go. So if you're in the grocery store, somebody bumps your car with their cart. You could be passive. You could just let that go get on with the rest of your life, and that's gonna be fine. You could also be aggressive. So what you're doing when you're being aggressive is you are taking care of your own needs , but at the expense of the other person's needs. So if somebody bumps your car with theirs in the grocery store, you could be aggressive and bump their cart back. Probably you're not gonna get anywhere with that behavior. It'll be. It would be better, a better strategy to be passive under those circumstances. Another form of dealing with conflict is to be passive aggressive. This is a term that has different definitions in different circles. Why work? We talk about passive aggression as being putting on the appearance of being cooperative, but you're really being mean behind the scenes. So my favorite example of this is let's say that you have a roommate situation and the dishes are always a problem. Who is gonna do the dishes? And so let's say that the dishes have piled up. It's your roommates turn to do the dishes. Finally, they agreed to do it, and the agreeing to do it looks like a cooperative behavior, right? But they're so grouchy when they're doing it that they purposefully break your favorite coffee cup. And so that is being mean definitely behind the scene. So that's passive aggressive. You appear to be cooperative, but really you're being mean behind the scenes. So the last way to deal with conflict is to be assertive, and when you're being assertive, you are taking care of your own needs. But you're also taking care of the other person's needs as well. So there are four steps to an assertive message. In the real world, you can condense these four steps, but for the academic exercise of this video, we're gonna talk about each one separately. In the real world, you can combine, So the first step for an asserted message is to describe the other person's behavior. So here, what you need to do is stick only to the facts. Don't judge or editorialize. Don't say that it's right or wrong. And don't try to explain their behavior or figure out behavior or figure out why they did it or make some kind of an explanation for it. So you're only describing the facts, not judging, not editorializing. The second step is to offer one or two interpretations of the behavior and hear what you want to do is be charitable. You want to assume the best, assume that they had good intentions, and it's really important to be sincere as you're doing that. Try to think of some like really realistic interpretations for that behavior, and the third step is to share your feelings. Now, this is really this leads to a really clear communication because usually people rely on their nonverbal communication to let people know how they're feeling. But if you verbalize your feelings, you're really clearly telling the other person where you're coming from, and it really is really good, clear communication. And then the fourth step is the what Now step. So you go in several different directions for this one. You could just be registering your complaint and just let it be known that you don't like whatever happened, so you could just be that you're registering a complaint, you could have a request of the other person, which is very helpful to them. So if somebody just registers a complaint, the other person might be left just still not knowing what they can do to make things better. So if you have a really clear request of the other person, that's often very, very helpful for them. You also talk about the consequences of their behavior. You could talk about that in two different ways. You can talk about it if they continue the same behavior, what the consequences will be or if they change their behavior. What those consequences might be the fourth option for this. What now step is to just say how you plan to act in the future, Baby, your behavior is going to change as a result of their behavior. So conflict is inevitable. In any relationship of any depth, we're gonna have conflict. The thing is to deal with the conflict respectfully to minimize the problems and to maximise the chances that you're gonna have a good outcome 3. Perception Checking: all right. We've all heard the phrase perception is reality. Is that really true? Perception is perception for sure. Perceptions could be inaccurate, though, and a lot of the time they are. We see things really from Onley, one point of view, and it's really hard to know the complete picture. So I know that I would say perception is reality Perception definitely is powerful, and we're gonna talk about how to do a really good perception check. So I'm gonna start by giving you an example, a scenario where a perception check would be a useful thing that could really change the whole trajectory of somebody's life. So let's say that you have a new courtship with somebody and you have each other cell phones and cell phone numbers and you are texting each other. So one person, let's say it's you. You respond to the texts right away. Within a couple of minutes, you send a text back to the to the person. Ah, the other person, though they might take, I don't know, maybe two or three hours to get back to you so your perception could be of the other person that they don't care about you because it takes them a couple hours to get back to you. Their perception might be totally different. They might be thinking, Oh, I like this person so much. I am responding to them within a couple hours instead of waiting until the end of the day. And so there is a miscommunication, potential miscommunication between these two people, and if you don't check your perception, you might end a relationship when really it has a bright future ahead of it. So there are three steps to a perception check. The first step is to describe the behaviour. He stick only to the facts. You don't judge or editorialize, so you don't say that it's wrong. You don't try to figure out why they did what they did or try to explain it or or comment on it. Somehow you stick only to the facts, and when you do a good job of describing the other person's behavior, it passes the not on a test. So when you just describe their behaviour, they can't say now because it's very clear the behavior that they did. The second step toe. A perception check is to give one or two possible interpretations of their behavior. And here it's really important to be charitable. You want to assume the best of the other person, assume that they had good intentions. If you assume that they had bad intentions, then you're probably not going to get very far in your perception check. And then the third step is just to ask for clarification, just to say what's up. Okay, so let's apply this perception check. This is kind of a funny example the texting example. But I think it does a good job of getting the point across. So let's say that you are the texture, the one who responds right away. So you're gonna check your perception with the other person. So you're gonna say something like, Hey, I noticed that it takes maybe two or three hours when I send you a text for you to get back to me. I'm guessing you're probably really busy at work. You're really involved with what you're doing, and you don't look at your phone very much. Is that right? Really quick perception check. And so there they can take that information. They can say, yeah, isn't a great I get right back to you and right back could mean within two or three hours instead of having you wait until the end of the day. But maybe they really are busy and they really do like you a lot. And they like you so much. They get back with you within two or three hours so you can see a situation like this can totally change the trajectory of your entire life. And I love it. It's really, really important to check our perceptions. What we see may not be what we see may not be what the truth is, and it's really important just to check that out. 4. Listening: e regularly do some informal surveys at the beginning of some of my classes, and I ask my students to tell me just informally about some area of communication, that they feel like they're pretty good out and usually roughly are. You know, 70% of the time people claim that they're really good listeners, which cracks me up because it really reinforces the research that says there's a really big disconnect between how well people say that they listen and how well they actually listen. This is one of the biggest myths and communication people think they're really good listeners for really. People are pretty bad listeners. People think that since they've been hearing all their life and they must be okay listeners , The great news is that there are some tools to learn to be better listeners, and I want to tell you about two of these probably the top two tools to be a better listener. So the 1st 1 is to paraphrase, and when you're paraphrasing, you're putting the other person's message into your own words, and your rephrasing it just to check your understanding. Sometimes people think that when you're doing a paraphrase, your condensing the other person's message or making it shorter. And that's not necessarily the case. It may take more words to rephrase. What they've said about. The main thing that you're looking for is to put it into your own words so you can check their understanding. Check your understanding of their message and you can paraphrase for the content of a message. Also, you can paraphrase for the emotion behind a message. This is really, really great, because usually people don't say how they're feeling. They rely on their nonverbal communication toe, let you know how they're feeling. And so if you're paraphrasing somebody's emotion, you convertible eyes how it looks like to you that they are feeling, and then that can really help you to understand how they're feeling. If you get it right, great. And if you get it wrong, they can clarify that for you. So paraphrasing is necessary on Lee. When the message is complicated, enoughto warrant a pair of phrase. If somebody has a simple message for you, there's no need to paraphrase because it's not complicated enough to do that. Another important thing to remember when you're paraphrasing is that this is not the time for advice. What you're doing now is you're just listening. You're not here to say what the other person should do. You're just listening. Another tool for really good listening is the solar stance. S o l e r. And this is this acronym that you could remember to be a better listener. And so the S stands for squarely faced the other person. So your eyes are facing them. Your shoulders, your hips pay careful attention to where your feet are pointing as well, so you may be squarely facing the other person. But your feet might be pointed toward the door. And what this does is it sends the signal that you are listening. But you really want to go. You really are headed out toward the door. So the O stands for having an open stance. You're not gonna cross your arms in front of you. You're gonna cross your legs. If you're sitting down, you're gonna be literally open toe what the other person has to say. The l stands for lean in just a sui would when we're seeing a new, exciting movie that we're all into or, uh, listening to an interesting story and I'm not talking about, like, lean, super duper in that lead in like, I don't know, an inch or so. So you're leading into what they have to say. E you might guess, stands for eye contact, which is really important when you are listening well and the r sounds for relax. So if you, uh, are squarely facing the other person, you have an open stance. You're leaning in and you have eye contact despite the a little intense. And so then you just chill a little bit and you relax. So this sets your body upto listen really well to what the other person has to say. So this was a practice. What? You preach moment for me? I was sitting in a meeting once. I was cranky about being in the meeting. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to hear the message, and I was leaning back in my chair. Everything was all crossed and I was doing on my paper, and then my light bulb went off in my head and I thought, OK, solar stance, Let's do this. And so, uh, I squarely faced the other person and I uncrossed my arms. I uncrossed my legs. I leaned in instead of leaning back and I made eye contact. I looked at the person and I relaxed. And it seems like it was just that moment that they said something meaningful and important . And I was glad that I heard it. And so this is really, really nice. Something to keep in your pocket, the solar stance so you can be a better listener setting up your body toe. Listen well to what somebody else has to say. 5. "I" Statements: statements are my favorite lesson that I teach. I think it's my favorite because it can have the biggest, most positive impact on people's communication. So a funny little story just to start this I was I had some have some dental work, I don't know a couple of years ago, and I was sitting in the dentist chair and the person helping me was somebody who had been my student several years before, probably five years before. And she says, Oh my gosh, Bernadette, I loved your class and you know what I remember the most? It was the ice statements. And so just like my my student who was helping me with a dentist, uh, the I statements are really, really positive things that you can do in your communication. So even though this is my favorite lesson, it's also the shortest lesson. And it's the most complicated one to try to teach and to try to learn. So bear with me, and I think you're gonna have some really good results from this so we can use I statements , often times in conflict. But not always when we're having conflict, so with a nice statement does is it claims responsibility for the situation. Regardless of whether the responsibility is yours, you claim the responsibility. You reveal something about yourself with a nice statement and it's non threatening. With you statement, you're shifting the responsibility onto the other person. So you're blaming or accusing them for the situation with a use statement. It's threatening. It also does not pass the non test, which will come to in just a second. So it's important to remember that I statements don't necessarily start with I. The word I and use statements don't necessarily start with the word you. It's more important to look at where the blame is or whether you're revealing something about yourself to make sure that it's a really good I statement. So here's my story. I was just last week. I was on the phone with my insurance person. I had kind of a complicated question to ask, and so I asked my question and she did not hear me, and she started answering a completely unrelated question. And so I sat there and I thought, Okay, I'm gonna try again and I said, Here's what I'm really asking And I tried again, asking my question and then she repeated her same speech. I'm sure she just had, like, this frequently asked questions speech, and she tried again with her. Same answer. So then here it's time for a nice statement And I said something like, I'm not getting my point across. I need to do a better job of making myself clear. And so I ask the question again so you can see how it, uh, it would be human nature really to do au statement to say something like, You're not listening to me. And I didn't do that, though, because I know better, but a lot of people would. And when you say something like, you're not listening, you're blaming the other person for your communication problem. Their defenses are going to go up, they're gonna feel frustrated, and you're not going to give very far. So if you claim responsibility saying I need to make myself clearer, then you can do a better job of making your cell clear and opening the door for them to listen to you better, and then you can have a better outcome for the situation. So here's another example. I said that oftentimes you use I statements in conflict, but not always so again, Just within the last few days, I was with my significant other and feeling all lovey and everything. And I said to him, I said, I don't think you know how much I love you. And I was blaming at just out of the blue those feeling love. But I was blaming that person assigning blame for them for some deficiency that he had. And so, um, but I could have done better. I could have done a nice statement and I wasn't revealing something about myself. I don't think you know how much I love you, right. So I could say something like, I'm gonna do something in the near future to illustrate how much I love you or something like that, revealing something about yourself. So I say that is gold. It's so so good. And you could really have some really, uh, excellent communication with a nice statement. So the best way to learn these I statements is to practice. So I have a quiz that we're going to do, and it really is hard to change something from AU statement to a nice statement. But it will lead to a whole new world of better communication, a clear path for the future that you want 6. Effective Apologies: way. We've all been there. Somebody owes us an apology, and this is how they do it. Sorry, Absolutely insincere. And after that apology, you are even madder than you were before the apology. So there's a really great way to do a really good sincere apology. And I am very happy to bring this to you today. There are four steps to a really good apology. The first step is to apologize and say the behavior that you're apologizing for. I'm sorry for whatever it is. So let's say that your job is to unload the dishwasher before somebody else comes home in your family. So and you don't do that and they come home in the dishwasher is not unloaded. So you say I'm sorry I didn't unload the dishwasher by the time you got home. This shows that you are thoughtful and you understand why you were apologizing. What you're apologizing for The second step is to tell the other person that you understand how that harmed them. So in the dishwashers scenario, this was wrong, because when you came home than first, you had to unload the dishwasher and then reload it before you were able to start making dinner, and that was a problem for you. The third step is to say how you're gonna plan, how you plan to act in the future. So you say something like in the future, I'm gonna make sure that I unload the dishwasher. Before you come home. I'll make a note. So I don't forget. This is great, because this shows that your thoughtful again and that you have a plan to be a better person in the future. And then the fourth step is to ask for forgiveness. This is, ah, kind of a loaded thing that people don't know you forgiveness. It's OK to ask, but please don't demand somebody forgive you. This is a case by case situation, but it's lovely to ask for forgiveness. So while we're talking about apologies, I just wanted to make sure that you know about some fake apologies and insincere apologies . So these air bad ideas. So don't say something like, I'm sorry you're mad or I'm sorry if I offended you or I'm sorry you feel that way. He's really are not apologies and you're not gonna get anywhere. You're not gonna make that situation better by saying those things. So I used these apologies with significant people in my life is complete apology. I've used it with my significant others, and I have used it actually with my child as well, says really great for Children because they deserve respect just as everybody else deserves respect. And if I've done something to harm my child, I want my child to know that I'm sorry and that I have a better plan for the future. This is also a really good parenting tool to guide your Children through these complete apologies. Walk them through this. That way they can process what they did exactly what the behavior that they did and how it harmed the other person and help them to think about what they can do to behave better in the future. And really, when your child does this complete apology to you, it's really hard to be mad at them after that. So I love this method for having a complete apology. I think it really sets people up for better understanding and a brighter future.