Wednesday 5 September 2018

Effective Communication for Umpires

Effective Communication

Possessing good interpersonal communication skills is one of the great strengths of an effective umpire. To become effective communicators, umpires need to be skilled in the following areas:
Written communication
Verbal communication
Active listening/talking
Awareness of the barriers to effective listening
Strategies and techniques to improve communication

Without effective communication skills and an ability to get messages across, match officials are not capable of managing a match satisfactorily. This process of effective communication is based around understanding how messages need to travel with the use of written, verbal and body language and how messages can be “blocked” or stopped by “barriers”. The use of the right verbal, body and written techniques can make the task of getting the message across very simple and highly effective.

Effective Verbal Communication
It is widely known and accepted that non verbal communication (body language, facial expressions and tone of voice) has more impact than verbal communication. However, we still must make every effort to make what we say effective!
These 6 C’s should provide some direction for such improvement:-
1. Present information Clearly
2. Be Concise and not long winded
3. Provide Correct information that is not misleading
4. Give Complete information, not just bits and pieces
5. Be Courteous to who you are communicating with
6. Provide Constructive Criticism to stakeholders in the game

Communication openers How often would you use these phrases currently? It is best to use questions to start a conversation or continue it to reach an acceptable outcome. ie. The messages have been clearly understood.
1. May I ask a question?
2. Before we make a decision, let’s review the options
3. Can we stop for a second and look at the way we’re approaching the problem?
4. I’d like to go back a step and clear up something I don’t quite understand
5. I don’t know much about that. How about you?
6. Were you aware that …..?
7. Maybe we should reconsider your approach
8. I have an idea I’d like to share sometime
9. Would you tell me more about what you just said
10. Let me ask for some ideas on how I can go ahead with this
11. What other ways can we think of?
12. If we followed your idea through, what difference would it make?
- Note the focus / theme of “we” and “us”!
- Never use blocking or confrontational verbal or non verbal language

Understanding: The same words often don’t mean exactly the same thing to any two individuals.
e.g. This is what I understand you are saying
or I think you mean
Note: responses should take account of their feelings i.e. don’t just repeat their words like a parrot.
Beware not to send your own message in your own words

Building Rapport and Communication Skills with Players
What does this involve?
- Finding common ground
- Taking an interest in the other person
- Being a human being – taking an opportunity to show people you are human
- Don’t try too hard to build rapport – look for the opportunities
- Use of first names

Dealing with Captains prior to the match
- Introduce yourself, your partner and reacquaint prior to the match
- Ask a question or two about their world
- Clarify any necessary playing conditions / facilities
- Ask them for any queries
- Let them know that the umpires are approachable at all times

Dealing with Captains post match / end of day
- Bowler’s actions to review?
- Player behaviour issues?
- Clarify starting time for the next day if necessary
- Post match meeting
- Player feedback if necessary

What communication is appropriate with players?
- A positive comment about the match
- Recognition of a milestone
- Recognition of a debut / selection
- A positive comment about a performance
- Working / managing a bowler with his feet placement
- Progress on over rates

Verbal and non verbal intimidation from players
- It’s natural in sport and it’s going to happen – it’s not about you
- Don’t let the situation get to you
- Preparation and visualising a positive outcome will help: Make an effort (when appropriate) to pass a positive comment to build rapport / respect, which will make it easier in the tough times.

Positive Body Language
- Builds closeness and trust: Sends signals without words
Consists of the following behaviours:
S face the other person squarely
O adopt an open posture
L lean slightly toward the other person
D at a distance apart of about 1 metre
E keep good eye contact
R try to be relaxed

Active listening is more than just hearing. It involves focussing on the message (content / intent) and your understanding of the message only.
Five good listening tips:
1. Listen attentively: All gestures and facial expressions should show acceptance and attention.
2. Listen reflectively: Repeat what was said. The official, by restating in ordinary speech what the player said, is able to check that the content of the communication was understood. It also enables the official to check the feeling of the competitor’s message was correctly interpreted.
3. Avoid emotional responses: Have you ever noticed how listening stops when an exchange gets heated? Stay rational and not emotional.
4. Try bridging: A nod of the head, a throaty noise without words or an occasional “yes” helps the listener to know you’re tuned in.
5. Don’t interrupt: Don’t interrupt means don’t interrupt!

Strategies and techniques to improve communication
Improving communication: Like anything, interpersonal communication can be improved through practice. Use the following tips to improve your interpersonal communication skills.
1. Use feedback: Two-way communication allows both sender and receiver to search for verbal and non-verbal cues (eyes, body movement, etc) in order to establish understanding.
2. Use face to face communication: Accurate feedback is nearly always achieved more efficiently through face to face communication rather than over the telephone or through written means.
3. Be sensitive to the receiver’s situation: Individuals differ in their values, needs, attitudes and expectations. Empathizing with those differences will improve our understanding of others and make it easier to communicate with them.
4. Use direct simple language: The more accurately that words and phrases are tailored to the receiver’s situation, the more effective the communication will be.

Courtesy of ICC 

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