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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness
Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

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2 Minimal encouragers in conversations

Imagine if, when the four doctors were talking, that Ashworth did not acknowledge or respond to what they were saying? Alternatively, imagine you talking and those opposite you show completely blank faces and motionless bodies.

There is a very important role played by words and sounds such as ‘mm’, ‘yeah’ or ‘OK’ as encouragement in active listening. It signals for the other person to continue. By giving signals of comprehension and agreement non-verbally and/or verbally, you are using what are known as minimal encouragers.

A photograph of a group of women wearing sport clothing.
Figure 1 Who looks like they have encouragement to talk next?

Providing your colleagues or strangers with small verbal and physical signals to feel more comfortable helps to smooth the flow of the conversation. The trouble is we often forget to do it.