Accessing Your
Counseling Style
Everyone has a range of communication skills. When these skills are combined,
they make up a counseling style. People may have several styles they can adopt,
but tend to have a preferred style when interacting with others. Discovering one’s
own counseling skills helps explain how we interact with others and establish
relationships at work.
MATERIALS You will need:
Flipchart or overhead projector
Handouts 1.1 and 1.2 for each participant
IME 60 to 90 minutes
ROUP SIZE Suitable for self-development and groups of 6 to 18 people
ETHOD 1. Introduce Handout 1.1 in the following way:
Much of our time with people is spent in understanding
them, and this involves a listening or what is sometimes
called a “receiving” mode of communication. The ideal per-
son/manager is someone who provides personal support for
friends, coworkers, and staff. This function is called “respon-
siveness,” and if a person/manager is accessible to people,
they will often come to him/her just to be heard. Listening is
a key counseling skill and an attribute valued by most people.
In the hectic environment of our personal and work world,
there is a need for action. A manager achieves results
through other people working well, and some of the most
important actions of a manager concern the motivation of
people. This is rarely a simple “carrot and stick” exercise,
but a complex process requiring a detailed knowledge of the
individual needs of people and considerable counseling
skills. Deciding what is appropriate in a given situation is a
skill in itself.
2. Give a copy of Handout 1.1 to each participant. Explain that
there are five short paragraphs (Statements I – V) expressing
statements about people. Participants should choose the
response that they feel they would be most likely to make.
Remind participants to be honest about themselves as there
are no simple “right” answers. An honest analysis of
behavior is more beneficial.
50 Activities for Developing Counseling Skills in Managers
When participants have read Statement I, turn to the five
responses and choose one. They should then turn back and
read Statement II, and so on.
3. Allow time for participants to complete Handout 1.1 and
then explain the scoring as follows:
Using the flipchart or the overhead projector, draw a grid
similar to that shown in Handout 1.2 and explain that the
statements (I – V) are listed on the left-hand side and the
responses (I – V) fall into the five categories E, I, S, P, U,
and are listed along the top.
4. Ask the participants to look at the responses they have
selected for each statement and note its corresponding letter.
For example, if they chose response 4 to Statement I, then
note one “I.” They should do this for all five statements.
If necessary, assist participants in completing this task and
ask them to add up their score for each alphabet letter:
E I S P U.
5. Explain that the significance of the alphabet letters in terms
of responses used in communication are as follows:
E Used most
I Used second most
S Used third most
P Used fourth most
U Used least
Then indicate to participants that the letters represent the
following categories:
E Evaluative response Making judgments
I Interpretative response Reading between the lines,
making hunches
S Supportive response Agreeing, offering
psychological and actual
P Probing response Questioning, asking for
more, often deeper,
U Understanding response Understanding is used in a
rather special way—it refers
to a nondirective, non-
evaluative response that
reflects back to the speaker
what he/she said

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