Communication Strategies: Other-Orientation


Other-orientation is a quality of interpersonal effectiveness that includes the ability to adapt your messages to the other person.  It involves communicating attentiveness to and interest in the other person and genuine interest in what the person says.

Communicating Other-Orientation. You’ll recognize the following behaviors in those with whom you enjoy talking. As you read these suggestions you’ll note that these are also likely to serve the impression formation function of being liked.

<       Show consideration. Demonstrate respect, for example, ask if it’s all right to dump your troubles on someone before doing so, or ask if your phone call comes at a good time.

<       Acknowledge the other person’s feelings as legitimate: Expressions such as “You’re right” or “I can understand why you’re so angry” help focus the interaction on the other person and confirm that you’re listening.

<       Acknowledge the other person. Recognize the importance of the other person. Ask for suggestions, opinions, and clarification. This will ensure that you understand what the other person is saying from that person’s point of view.

<       Focus your messages on the other person. Use open-ended questions to involve the other person in the interaction (as opposed to questions that merely ask for a yes or no answer), and make statements that directly address the person. Use focused eye contact and appropriate facial expressions; smile, nod, and lean toward the other person.

<       Grant permission. Let the other person know that it’s o.k. to express (or to not express) her or his feelings. A simple statement such as “I know how difficult it is to talk about feelings” opens up the topic of feelings and gives the other person permission either to pursue such a discussion or to say nothing.


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