Communication and Cancer

In searching for communication issues we don’t normally talk about in our introductory textbooks, that of talking to cancer patients about their cancer is one of the most important and the most difficult. Here are a few suggestions for making communication with a person diagnosed with cancer—what you might say and what you should NOT say--a bit easier—not easy, just a bit easier.


Public Speaking Apprehension-

In looking over the literature on dealing with pubic speaking apprehension, I searched for less likely sources than NCA journals. Here are some of the things I found, not surprisingly, not that different from what we have in our textbooks:
From an article in Forbes:
1.      Begin small, with baby steps.
2.      Organize what you want to say.
3.      Slow down.
1.      Don’t expect perfection.
2.      Don’t think of public speaking as a measure of your self-worth.
3.      Avoid getting nervous over nervousness—a wonderful lesson I learned from General Semantics
4.      Don’t memorize.
5.      Don’t read.
From WebMD:
1.      Visualize yourself speaking successfully.
2.      Practice.
3.      Avoid focusing on little things that get in the way of successful speaking.
From the Mayo Clinic:
1.      Know your topic.
2.      Organize.
3.      Practice, practice.
4.      Do some deep breathing.
5.      Focus on your speech, not your audience.
6.      Don’t fear silence.
7.      Recognize your success.
8.      Get support.
1.      Visualize yourself being successful.
2.      Relax.
3.      Practice.


New Book on Listening

Here is the TOC for a new book by Sharon Drew Morgen who asked me to post this and to alert readers of this coming book. I'm happy to do so. The book is called What? Did you really say what I think I heard?  The book will be out in December at which time I'll try to post the first chapter.
Foreword 1
Author’s notes 3
Introduction 4
Section 1: How do we hear others? 16
Chapter 1: What do we hear? 17
Chapter 2: How we mishear: the role of filters 23
Chapter 3: The components of communication 36
Chapter 4: Filling in the communication gaps: noticing what’s missing 52
Chapter 5: The elements of a conversation: case study 67
Section 1 summary 82
SECTION 2: How to have conversations without bias or misinterpretation 84
Chapter 6: The skills of conscious choice 85
Chapter 7: What to listen for 109
Chapter 8: Preparing for conversations 123
Chapter 9: Conversations that went wrong 138
Chapter 10: Final thoughts: what good is good communication? 155
Section 2 summary 161
Bibliography 163
Footnotes 168
Acknowledgements 173

Author’s Bio 174

For those with interest in this topic, you can contact Sharon Drew Morgen directly sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.


Communication Visuals

I started a few Pinterest boards largely to augment the text discussions in communication books—my own or others.  Photos and cartoons are very expensive; consequently, these are usually limited in most textbooks. So, I thought Pinterest would be a great medium to disseminate visuals that may prove useful in teaching communication. The boards you may find interesting in preparing slide presentations are those on illusions, communication, and choices. Hope you find them useful/helpful/interesting.


EHC Correction

A student of Paul Siegel, who uses Essentials of Human Communication at the University of Hartford, found an error in one of my key word quizzes. It occurs on page 135: b should be 8 and f should be 3--I had them reversed in the answer key. I thank Paul and his student and apologize to all for this. It should not have happened and won't again.



Here is a revision of a little quiz to introduce the topic of height in a nonverbal or other communication class.  It contains both historical and contemporary personalities and should play well in the classroom.

The Self-test
Try estimating the heights of the following famous people whom you’ve probably read about or heard about (but probably not seen in person) by circling the guessed height. In each of these examples, one of the heights given is correct.
1.      Baby Face Nelson (bank robber and murderer in the 1930s): 5ʹ5ʺ, 5ʹ11ʺ, 6ʹ2ʺ
2.      Ludwig Van Beethoven (influential German composer): 5’6”, 6’0”, 6’5”
3.      Kim Kardashian (media personality): 5’2”, 5’5”, 5’8”
4.      Buckminster Fuller (scientist, credited with inventing the geodesic dome): 5’2”, 5’10”, 6’3”
5.      Bruno Mars (singer): 5’5”, 5’8”, 5’10”
6.      Mahatma Gandhi (Indian political leader whose civil disobedience led to India’s independence from British rule): 5’3”, 5’8”, 6’0”
7.      Jada Pinkett Smith (actor): 5’0”, 5’6”, 5’9”
8.      Joan of Arc (military leader, burned for heresy at age 19, and declared a saint) 4’11, 5’4”, 5’10”
9.      T. E. Lawrence of Arabia (adventurer and British army officer) 5’5”, 6’0”, 6’5”
10.  Salma Hayek (actor): 5’2”, 5’5”, 5’8”.

The Follow-up
This exercise was designed to see if you would overestimate the heights of a number of these people. Fame seems to be associated with height, and so most people would think these people were/are taller than they really were/are. The specific heights for all are the shortest heights given above: Baby Face Nelson, 5¢5ʺ; Ludwig Van Beethoven, 5¢6ʺ; Kim Kardashian, 5’2”; Buckminister Fuller, 5¢2ʺ; Bruno Mars, 5’5”; Mahatma Gandhi, 5¢3ʺ; Jada Pinkett Smith, 5’0”; Joan of Arc, 4¢11ʺ; T. E. Lawrence, 5¢5ʺ; and Salma Hayek, 5¢2ʺ.      


The Basic Communication Course

I wrote this little piece to respond to some concerns voiced on the Basic Course List and I thought it might be relevant more generally.

The recent posts about increasing class size and the new student learning objectives/outcomes are alarming. And, as the economic pressure on colleges continues, it only looks like it’s going to get worse. Now may be the time to reconsider and reconceptualize the basic course.
Traditionally, the basic course in communication has been a course designed to teach the skills of public speaking. Then in the early 70’s courses in interpersonal communication were developed, again to teach basic skills. For those who wanted a broader spectrum of skills, there was the hybrid course, designed to teach the skills of interpersonal communication, interviewing, small group and leadership, and public speaking—with varied emphases.
            These skills courses are most departments’ “bread and butter.” Consequently, it’s not an easy sell to argue against courses that at least in many instances sustain a department by supporting additional, more advanced, courses and, in many ways, make a graduate program possible by providing teaching assistantships.
But, there are several built-in difficulties with the basic skills-focused course and this has subjected communication departments to problems and criticism from a number of sides.