Life Skills Development/Module Three/Responding

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Responding is a direct result of the process of listening that has taken place regarding a message. Response involves communicating to a person an understanding of the message and their behaviour. The response should not be general but focus on a specific message or behaviour not the person or the assumed intention.

Even when you are not reading, listening and responding is important. You may respond by nodding your head to show that you are paying attention,or shaking your head when you think some information is wrong.

Several variables impact how you may respond. These include physical and mental health and wellness, the environment. prevailing situation, gender, emotional state, personal exceptionalities, previous experiences, culture among others.

In the process of interviewing a person, it is necessary to listen and record points of interest.

If you are part of an audience, you must be quiet for the courtesy of others, and for the attention of the presenters.

Before responding to a message it may be necessary to ask questions to ensure proper understanding. It might also be necessary to clarify or repharse statements and conduct a probe for further information that will ensure that the reply is appropriate, relevant and adequate.

Effective response involves the sharing of sincere and honest information and observations. It speaks to giving a confident response to how or what was done but not why it was done without a feeling of guilt.

Constructive response will help individuals identify areas of their behaviour that needs improvement.

How should we give response?

  1. Be specific regarding the behaviour
  2. Consider the timinig; it is best done directly after the event.
  3. Consider the needs of the person getting the response as well as your own need.
  4. Consider the cultural differences between yourself and the person with whom you are communicating.
  5. Focus on the behaviour that needs addressing.
  6. Ask for a response do not impose.
  7. Avoid being judgemental or labeling behaviours.
  8. State clearly the impact of the behaviour on you.
  9. Use 'I statements' instead of 'You statements' to avoid defensiveness.
  10. Ascertain that clear communication has taken place.
  11. Reply calmly without an emotional tone, language or body movement.

Types of Response

There are different ways in which we respond to messages and situations. These include:

  • Passive
  1. Taking no action to assert individual rights
  2. Putting others first at their own expenses
  3. Giving in to what others want
  4. Remaining silent when something bothers you
  5. Being overly apologetic
  • Assertive
  1. Standing up for your right without affecting the rights of others
  2. Respecting self and others
  3. Listening and talking
  4. Expressing positive and negative feelings
  5. Being confident but not pushy
  • Agressive
  1. Standing up for your rights without thinking about others
  2. Putting yourself first at the expense of others
  3. Overpowering others
  4. Achieving goals at the expense of other

Steps to delivering assertive message

  • State how you feel about the behaviour or problem
  • State clearly what you would like to happen
  • Enquire how the other person feels about your request and be sure to give a response to the feeling
  • Ask the other person to express his/her thoughts about your request.
  • Accept the outcome publicly
  • If the person agrees with your request say thanks; if he/she does not agree stick to your point if you feel it is right for you.

You are assertive when you are able to stand up for your rights without putting down the rights of others. You should be able to:

  • say 'No' without feeling guilty
  • disagree without being angry
  • ask for help when you need it

This will result in you feeling better about yourself and having more honest friends and relationships.


Confirming response= statement that helps an individual to value self in a more positive way.

Supporting Response= gives understanding and reaasurance, confirming the individuals right to a feeling

Clarifying Response = seeks to get a better understanding of the message

Compliment = confirms individuals sense of worth

Disconfirming Response = undermines individual's self worth

Irrelevant Response = has nothing to do with message

Assertive Response - Assertiveness is being able to clearly and precisly say what you want at any time.

Assignment and Activities

1. Your flatmate had an interesting encounter at work today and cannot wait to share it with you. However, you had a rough day yourself and really feel like having some quiet time in your room. Do you fake attention so that you won't hurt her feelings or simply tell her you are tired and would rather wait untill later to hear the story? Ask yourself how you would feel if you had experienced a similar situation.

2. Monitor and take notes about your own responses during a conversation with another person at lunch. What were some of the challenges you experienced as you sought to make positive responses? How did you correct this?

3 In pairs learners discuss an issue. One learner should not speak but respond with non-verbal actions to the commentary of the first learner. If desired, a third party can act as an observer and record the non-verbal actions of the responder. Some of these actions are:

  • Posture
  • Direct body orientation
  • Appropriate facial expression
  • Nodding
  • Eye contact
  • Appropriate proximity
  • Non-verbal utterance 'hmmm,oh,ah,'etc.
  • Use of space

At the end of the agreed period learners will discuss the communication process identyfying the challenges to be addressed and good practices to strengthen and emulate.

4. You have gone to a shop to buy shoes and feel that they are too small for your feet. The sales person insist that they look good on you and you should buy them. What do you say?

From the following responses say which ones displays agressiveness and which ones displays assertiveness.

  • No I cannot buy these shoes because I am not comfortable in them
  • No, I will not buy them
  • Why am I forced to buy them(in a raised voice)
  • No, I know what I want

5. In your journal list the ways in which assertiveness can help you in life.?

6. In groups of four you are talking to your friends. Most of them have had sex and are teasing you about the fact that you have not. One of the group members hurt you by saying something really unkind. You decide to make an assertive reply. What do you say?

7. A person of the other sex has asked you to go to a party with him/her. You do not know anyone who is going, which makes you feel uncomfortable. You have also heard that this person uses drugs and does not have a good reputation at school nor in his community. You decide to be assertive and say no to him/her. How do you say it?

8. A friend of your family asks if you would like a ride home after church. You don't feel good about this person and are a little uncomfortable about the situation. You would otherwise have to wait 1 hour before your brother picks you up. You decide to be assertive and refuse his offer. How do you do this? What do you say?

9. In groups of four learners discuss the factors that influence how they communicate. These will be recorded along with the impact of each factor and the decisions that must be taken to ensure that the process is acceptable.


It is necessary as you practice your response skills that you ask questions for clarity regarding the message and what the other person is thinking so as to respond appropriately to his/her feelings. In conversations well timed responses with usable information that has necessary details should be provided. Your experiencing this lesson might have highlighted the fact that there are many variables that affect how we respond. One major variable is gender. What do you think? There are other variables such as physical health and space, time of day, emotional state, culture, physical impairment, mental health to name a few.


How will I assess my progress

You will be assessed through Self and Peer assessment

1. Keep a weekly journal in which you'll record your experiences, challenges and accomplishments in using appropriate listening and responding skills. At the end of the period review your journal and make decisions for future situations.

2. Discuss with another learner the responding skills you have learnt and practiced since experiencing this lesson. Share the challenges you have experienced while you practiced these skills and the strategies you used to overcome those challenges. Be free to discuss your concerns, your friend may be able to give you a tip or two on how you could deal with them.

Self assessment

Questions for Reflection

Can I identify the skills for responding?

What were the challenges I encountered in practicing these skills?

How did I deal with them? Could I have done anything else?

Supportive Materials

  1. Handouts
  2. Skits
  3. Power point presentation
  4. Comics
  5. Animations