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Read the following extract and answer these questions

a) What kind ofmeetings is the text about?

b) What structure does the text describe?

c) What key point is made about communication?


The reason for having a meeting is to make a decision. Information may be given in a presentation followed by questions or discussion, but it is to get a consensus that the meeting has been arranged in the first place. Achieving this in the most time- and cost-effective manner possible is a goal that everyone attending (the meeting) must share.

Marion Haynes (1988) maintains that decision making meetings need to follow a specific structure. The rational decision process includes the following steps:

· study / discuss / analyze the situation

· define the problem

· set an objective

· state imperatives and desirables

· generate alternatives

· establish evaluation criteria

· evaluate alternatives

· choose among alternatives.

One other aspect of decision making is the necessity for participants in the meeting to be aware of one another's needs and perceptions. If these are not effectively communicated, if there is an insufficient degree of understanding of one another's requirements, then an acceptable conclusion is unlikely to be reached. There are four essential elements in decision making: awareness, understanding, empathy and perception.

It is only when we accept that communications are a two-way process that any form of communication, including decision making, will become genuinely successful and effective.

Decision making is not always an identifiable activity. Frequently the discussion can evolve into a consensus which can be recognized and verbalized by the leader without the need to "put things to the vote."


Adapted from Bernice Hurst The Handbook of Communication Skills (London: Kogan Page, 1991).

2. Read the text again. Do you agree with:

a) the first sentence? Give reasons for your answer.

b) Haynes' suggestions for the steps involved in decision making?

c) the view that communication must be a two-way process?

d) what the writer says about consensus in the final paragraph?

3. Find words or phrases in the text which mean the same as the following:

1. common agreement

2. economical use of resources

3. aim

4. fix a goal

5. what one must have

6. what one would like to have

7. consider other options

8. way of seeing things

9. seeing things as others see them

10. develop

11. express through speaking.



Stating and asking for opinion


1. Quickly suggest as many ways of asking for opinion and stating opinion as you can. Two examples are given here:

What do you think about... ? – I think ...

Do you have any opinion on ... ? – In my experience ...


Listen to a recording of directors of a pharmaceuticals company discussing buying new production control equipment. They have to choose between two alternative suppliers, A and B. As you listen, refer to the graph below which shows the market share development of suppliers A and B.


a) In technical terms, which system is the best?

b) Which is the cheapest?

Which system seems to be the best choice? Why?

3. Listen again. Identify examples of language used to:

a) ask for opinion

b) state opinion.

Did you think of these in Exercise 1?

Practice 1

Below are a series of topics. Ask colleagues for their views and note if their opinions are weak, strong or neutral. If asked, give your views on the subjects – either quite strongly or fairly weakly.

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