Module 4 – Some specific communication strategies when dealing with refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants

  1. Active listening:

“Smart people talk while wise people actively listening.” (Konfuzius)

Hearing Listening Active Listening
–          Occurs when sound waves hit the ear

–          It is a passive process

–          Involves no deciphering/interpretation

–          It is a prerequisite to listening

–          To absorb what another person is saying without trying to figure out what this really means

–          One is more busy thinking about  what can I say next

–          Understanding information with involvement of the mind and body

–          It is an active process

–          It requires conscious efforts, concentration and interest

Active listening is about understanding: we retain 7% from words, 38% from sounds (tone of voice, rhythm, accent, pauses) and 55% from body language.

The Method of active listening has turned out as particular effective communication strategy. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the doctor/ physician/ health care worker is seen to be listening otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting. An “I see.” can be enough just like nodding or repeating a word the patient just said.

  • Open questions
  • Encourage the patient to speak
  • Do not interrupt
  • Repeat the topics the patient just said
  • Integrate the patient in the conversation, e.g. by asking “what do you mean?”
  • Provide feedback

Here is a short video (three minutes) which explains very well the strategy of active listening. It is much recommended to watch. []

  1. Non-violent communication: This communication strategy is used when one is confronted with accusations. Instead of reacting to the words said one must try to look at the meaning behind the words or the underlying emotional reason for saying them and address those by showing understanding.

Further explanation is available under this following video. []

More information on specific communication strategies, here are recommendations of German books:

  • Motivierende Gesprächsführung (W. R. Miller & S. Rollnick)
  • Gewaltfreie Kommunikation (M. B. Rosenberg)
  • Miteinander reden (Schulz von Thun)
  • Lösungsorientierte Therapie in Theorie und Praxis (Steve de Shazer)
  • Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse (Viktor Frankl)