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Communications -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
As a family member, can I talk to the press about my spouse's unit and how I am coping during his/her deployment?

Answer:
Family members should use their own discretion in talking to the press. However, if you do talk to the media, be friendly, honest, and professional. Remember that when you’re talking about the military, you represent the military. Stick to facts and information you are personally knowledgeable about. Do not make speculations. Remember the importance of “OPSEC.” Even if the information you give does not appear to be sensitive, you don't want to jeopardize the safety of the unit's Soldiers or their family members. It is best to refer the media to the appropriate authorities (Rear Detachment Commander, the Public Affairs Office, etc.) for questions regarding unit activities. The Public Affairs Office can also provide you with more tips on how to talk to the media.

Question:
How do I know if I am getting the best calling plan and/or internet service?

Answer:
The only way to find the best telecommunication services and plans is to research each of them, which can take some time. Knowing your requirements is the most important thing you can do before comparing services. For example, having unlimited calling capability in the continental United States for a set price may sound like a good deal, but if most of your calls will be local - it may be less expensive for you to have a basic service than an unlimited calling plan. Make a list of your calling needs and habits, how often you will be using the Internet and how important it is for you to have quick access (i.e., dial-up vs cable or DSL), and how often, if at all, might you use a cell phone. Survey your friends, neighbors and co-workers to see what they use and what providers have the best reception in your area. You can also contact the local providers in your area to see what their plans offer and make your own comparisons or visit each of their websites.

Question:
How do I search for information on the Internet?

Answer:
The Internet contains millions and millions of webpages. Unless the specific Uniform Resource Locator (URL) associated with the site you are trying to find is known, most people use a tool called a “search engine” to help them find it. A URL is the Wide World Web (www) address for the site. Search engines use keywords or phrases to find web sites that contain the information for which they are looking. There are a number of search engines available on the Internet such as Google and Yahoo (e.g., www.google.com and www.yahoo.com). Most search engines use Boolean operators for their searches. Boolean operators (e.g., AND, OR, NOT, etc.) provide instructions to the search engines as to which keywords you want your results to include or exclude. For example, if you were looking for information on apples and oranges, “apples AND oranges.” Your results would be limited to sites that contained the words “apples and oranges.” If you entered “apples OR oranges,” your results would include sites containing either the word “apples” or “oranges.” Search engines also allow you to use an asterisk (wildcard) in place of letters. You can usually find some advanced search capabilities on search engine sites that allow you to narrow the scope of your search to certain file formats; sites that were updated within a certain date range, etc. Note that these are just a few tips to help you in your quest for information on the Wide World Web. The Pandia Search Central at http://www.pandia.com is a site dedicated to search engines and productive Internet searching. This site offers a “search tutorial” that provides more information on how to navigate the Wide World Web. Also, check your community education centers, libraries, and local colleges and universities for computer classes. Many offer ones specifically on using the Internet.

Question:
How does one's rank or a member's spouse's rank impact the Family Readiness Group?

Answer:
The opinions, experiences and attitudes expressed based on a member’s position (e.g., Commander, 1st Sergeant, Commander's Spouse, Command Sergeant Major's, 1st Sergeant's Spouse, etc.) may influence group perception and the Family Readiness Group’s ability to function successfully. There are times when military leaders in the FRG are expected to demonstrate their leadership within the FRG (e.g., in terms of providing unit information or guidance). However, rank should not play a part in the FRG. Members should express opinions and attitudes in a manner that does not limit others' participation by exerting undue influence through their position or that of their spouse.

Question:
How important is it for a leader (e.g., Family Readiness Group Leader) to be a good public speaker?

Answer:
It is are extremely important for leaders to have good written and oral communication skills, as it is often the way a leader communicates with his/her constituents that determines how supportive and participative they will be. For example, if a Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader shows very little enthusiasm when promoting FRG events and activities, there may be few individuals participating in them. Public speaking is especially useful for leaders. It can be used to gain exposure for the organization, attract new participants, gain support for issues, etc. If asked to speak publicly, take adequate time to prepare your speech or presentation, taking into consideration the target audience, the presentation location, the most current information on the topic, and the message you are trying to convey. Practice executing your presentation and time it so you keep it within your allotted time. There are many different communication resources available (books, seminars, classes, etc.) that can help improve one’s communication skills. For more information about this subject, check the references provided.

Question:
If my sponsor is deployed and I plan on visiting my family while he/she is away, should Iet anyone at my sponsor's unit know about my travel plans?

Answer:
Family members should notify the Rear Detachment Commander, the Family Readiness Group (FRG) representative and/or emergency contact person of any travel plans and a contact number in case of an emergency.

Question:
What are some common barriers to effective communication?

Answer:
Effective communication involves the successful transmission and receipt of information. The choice of words, the tone of one’s voice, physical gestures, and the ability to listen effectively all contribute to important aspects of communication. Anything that causes the message being sent to being inaccurately received is considered a barrier to effective communications. For example, there are physical distractions such as bad phone lines or noisy rooms that may affect what the receiver actually hears. There are cultural barriers that may affect the way a message is understood such as when a person uses unfamiliar expressions, slang phrases, or local jargon. An individual’s emotional state (either they sender or receiver of the message) can be a barrier. If someone is angry or preoccupied with emotions, he/she may have trouble hearing the message. Another barrier is “information overload.” This often occurs in a classroom setting, lecture, or perhaps a sales pitch. Quite often the person trying to communicate the information is so knowledgeable about the subject matter that he/she tries to “tell it all.” Those on the receiving end find it so overwhelming that they barely get any of the details. These are just a few examples of the types of obstacles that can interfere with effective communication. Learn more about effective communication skills through the many resources available on this subject (books, classes, seminars, etc.).

Question:
What are some effective listening techniques?

Answer:
Listening is the process of receiving and understanding information being transmitted. Effective listening refers to receiving the information accurately and perceiving it as it was intended to be understood. There are a number of techniques that you can employ to increase the probability that the message you are hearing is the message being sent. Below is a list of some of these techniques. Note that this list is not conclusive, but provides some examples. - Prepare yourself to listen by giving your full attention to the speaker. - Make eye contact with the speaker and give feedback to him/her to acknowledge that the message is being heard, such as smiling or nodding your head. - Don’t interrupt someone who’s speaking. Allow them to finish their train of thought before you respond. - Don’t make assumptions about what you think the speaker is going to say. Doing this can cause you to ‘hear what you expect to hear’ as opposed to what is actually being said. Try to understand the speaker’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it. - Watch the speaker for any non-verbal clues such as body motions and facial expressions that allow you to ‘read between the lines.’ - Use feedback techniques to make sure you understood what the speaker said such as: asking questions to clarify your understanding, repeating back to the speaker what you think you heard (parroting), or rephrase what you think the speaker said to check your perception.

Question:
What are some examples of information that might be useful to compile in a welcome packet for Family Readiness Group (FRG) members?

Answer:
Information about the unit, installation and surrounding civilian communities are always good resources to include in a welcome packet for Family Readiness Group (FRG) members. Many times this information is already compiled by the installation (often Army Community Service), so check with them before duplicating efforts. It is also a good idea to include a list of Points of Contact in the unit and perhaps emergency phone numbers specific to the local military and civilian community. As an FRG leader, it is also a good idea to maintain a resource library of information about community organizations and agencies (e.g., crisis intervention and networking resources, etc.) that can be readily available in the event that one of your FRG members needs assistance.

Question:
What are some of the skills needed to produce a Family Readiness Group (FRG) newsletter?

Answer:
Chapter 6 of the Army Family Readiness Group Leader’s Handbook (Running an Effective FRG – Communications) covers a lot of the basic information you need to generate a newsletter for your FRG. An FRG newsletter does not have to be very elaborate – it could be a small, very simple publication that contains basic information about FRG events and activities. Ideally, however, it is useful for the newsletter chairperson to have some basic writing skills such as: how to research material; use a Word Processing or Publishing software program on the computer: how to format the material to make the newsletter visually appealing; and how to reproduce and distribute the newsletter. It is also important for the individual to be organized and dependable in order to meet deadlines for the newsletter.
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