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

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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

3 More than words

Speech and phatic talk is enhanced through features such as the pace, volume, rhythm and intonation of speech (known as paralinguistic features). These, in turn, can shape meaning.

Activity 3 Phatic talk in action: Lauren’s tennis coaching

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch this video of Lauren greeting a young tennis player.

As you watch the video, look out for how much mutual collaboration (contributions from both parties) and reciprocation (returning or mirroring the contribution) there is in the phatic talk.

Download this video clip.Video player: e119_2018j_vid015-640x360.mp4
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Transcript

BEN
Hi Lauren, how are you?
LAUREN ROSE
I'm good thanks, how are you?
BEN
Good.
LAUREN ROSE
Good. Have a seat. Had a good week?
BEN
Yeah.
LAUREN ROSE
Yeah.
BEN
It's been very hot.
LAUREN ROSE
It has been hot, hasn't it. Good day at school?
BEN
Mm-hmm.
LAUREN ROSE
Yeah? Been watching any Wimbledon?
BEN
Yeah.
LAUREN ROSE
Brilliant. Good. OK, so I thought today we'd do a bit of work on your backhand, OK, and a little bit work on weight transfer on your backhand just to give you a little bit more power through the shot.
BEN
And depth.
LAUREN ROSE
And depth, exactly. Yep.
End transcript
 
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Discussion

The young tennis player instigates the interaction by smiling and asking ‘how are you?’ and this is mirrored by Lauren. Lauren gestures to the seat as a friendly invitation to sit down, hinting at her authority over him. Their conversation is up and running and Lauren asks him about how his week has been, his day at school and if he has been watching Wimbledon. The comment on the hot weather is safe ground they can easily agree on. Young people soon learn the ritual of these phatic openings even if they don’t appreciate the purpose. The dialogue established, Lauren marks that the exchange is moving to a more instructional stage with ‘brilliant … good … so’, before explaining the focus of the training session.

You probably already appreciate some aspects of what we term non-verbal communication, but the next section will give you insight into its significance in building relationships and/or sustaining others’ motivation.

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