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Levels of Communication

Main Core Tie

Adult Roles And Responsibilities
Strand 2 Standard 1

Additional Core Ties

Adult Roles and Financial Literacy
Strand 4 Standard 1




Students will understand effective communication in interpersonal relationships and identify types of communication styles.


Instructional Procedures

Have student make a list of things they would talk to a stranger about, a best friend, and fiancé about.

Process Questions:

  1. What would you talk to a stranger about? Best friend about? Your fiancé about?
  2. Why do you talk about different subjects with different people?

Content Outline, Activities and Teaching Strategies
(All options do not necessarily need to be taught. Select ones to cover standards and objectives and according to your district policies.)

Option 1: Levels of Communication
Students will participate in the communication activity as follows:

  1. Break the class into groups of four or five. Each group should make a small circle with their desks.
  2. Everyone must participate.
  3. No talking with other groups.
  4. Everyone must "listen" with their eyes.
  5. When the teacher calls time, everyone must stop the conversation and "listen" with their eyes.
  6. If you have not finished the previous round, finish it before you begin the next round. Try to move more quickly!

The teacher should write the topic on the board / PowerPoint presentation that the class should share.

The teacher should share a personal example with the class, then turn the time to the groups to share with each other. As the groups are about to finish each round, the teacher should then introduce the next topic by sharing a personal example.

Tell the students when they hear the teachers voice that means there is no more talking.

Round #1: Each person should share an event they have experienced. (Example: "last week my son and I went skiing. The snow was great and we had a chance to have some great chats while riding the lift.")

Round #2: Each person should describe a situation that has proven to be a good influence in her/his life. (Example: "I became a teacher because of a great teacher I had in 6th grade, etc.")

Round #3: Each person should describe a Quality he/she already has that will make her/him a better parent or spouse. (Example: "I am a very patient person, and that is an important quality for a parent, etc.")

Round #4: Each person must give a compliment to one other person in his/her group. (Example: "I would like to compliment __________, he/she always seems to be interested in class. He shakes his head at the right time, smiles and nods. He makes me feel that what I am teaching is important and I appreciate it.")

When everyone has finished, have the students move their desks back to their usual places to have a discussion.

Process Questions/discussion:
Ask, by the raise of hands, which of the topics was hardest to share: events, influences, personal qualities, compliments?

What are some things that happened in your group? (Example: On topics three or four, someone said "I went first last time, it is your turn", or maybe eye contact was lost. Voices become more quiet, less confident, not as much laughter.)

Why is it more difficult to share personal qualities and compliments?

There are different levels of communication:

Superficial communication makes up the majority of our communication. It involves talking about events, what time you will be home, what is for supper, what you did in school and the weather.

Personal communication involves opening up and talking about feelings, beliefs, and opinions that mean something to you.

Validating communication reinforces peoples' feelings about themselves.

Option 2: Show Video Clips of Levels of Communication
(Know your district's policy on videos.) Show video clips that show different levels of communication and have the students identify the different levels. There is a series of video clips that can be used which include: a scene from "The David Letterman Show", "Dumb and Dumber", "Goonies", "Say Anything", "Sleepless in Seattle", "Twister", and a couple of other sitcoms. Have the students number their paper from one to "?" and then have them write down which of the three levels of communication did they see. There may be more than one.

Process Questions:

  1. What was the easiest level of communication to identify?
  2. What was the hardest level of communication to identify? Why?
  3. Was there any time that you seen one level of communication turn into another level of communication? When?

Discuss with the students the topic of relationships and the levels of communication. Refer to the teacher notes entitled Video Clips/Relationships and the Levels of Communication (pdf).

Option 3: Discussion on the Validating Process
Visit the website This website gives more information on validating. It will list the definition, basic steps to validate, and different examples.

Option 4: Practice Validating Activity
Have the student practice validating each other by making a validation necklace out of yarn. Each time they validate a person they tie a piece of yarn onto that person's necklace.

The greater the need to communicate our feelings, the harder it is to do. Indeed, sharing our opinions and emotions is risky business. We minimize the risk when we move through the levels of communication incrementally. That is, each conversation ought to begin with phatic (superficial) communication and move through the levels (however quickly seems appropriate) before moving to the more intimate levels.

Sharing our ideas and feelings is generally reserved for those whom we trust. Trust is a function of confidence, commitment, and time. We generally share our essence with those we've known a long time.

Created: 07/04/2011
Updated: 02/05/2018