o Reducing Uncertainty

Uncertainty reduction theory: a driving human motivation to increase predictability by reducing the unknown in one’s circumstances.

-Communication researchers Berger, Calabrese, and Bradac contend that this driving motivation among humans to reduce our uncertainty prompts us to communicate. We typically respond to uncertainty in three ways – using passive, active, and/or interactive strategies.

Passive: observing and gathering useful information without interacting

Active: getting opinions and information from third parties

Interactive: getting opinions and information from those parties most directly involved


  • What Do You Say First?

-One of the best strategies is to find something you perceive you might have in common with the person.

  • The Art and Skill of Asking Great Questions

-Asking a great question means that, first, you tailor the question to the person as much as possible.

-Don’t ask too many “yes/no” or “one-word” responses.

-Avoid questions that might be too personal and probing.

-A second very critical skill is to really listen to the person’s answers to your questions. Then pose a follow-up question.


-Avoid talking about yourself too much. Terms for this behavior include conversational narcissism (view that one is center of the universe) and a self-absorbed communicator style (dominating communication style in which one focuses attention on the self…use of “I”)

-Self-absorbed = No one’s day is as bad, no one’s opinion as valuable nor information as correct.

-It is not what you say, but how you respond to what others say that makes a good conversationalist.


  • The Art and Skill of Giving and Receiving Compliments

-Jane Holmes, British linguistic calls compliments “social lubricants”

-Giving compliments is a tricky business, because some attempts at flattery can be taken in ways other than you intend.

-The best response to a compliment is a simple “thank you” that acknowledges that something nice was said about you.

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