How to Use the Different Communicative Strategies

The use of Communicative Strategies is the hallmark of communicative competence. Being able to use such strategies make certain not only the achievement of the Speech Purpose but also the enrichment of the communication experience for both Speaker and Listener. More than making interaction possible, Communicative Strategies when used by the Speaker (and sometimes the Listener) allow for the adjustment of the Message and its Delivery. Of course, such strategies are employed within specific Speech Contexts using a combination of Speech Styles and Speech Acts.

Communicative Strategies are plans, ways, or means of sharing information which are adopted to achieve a particular social, political, psychological, or linguistic purpose.

There are Seven Types of Communicative Strategies:

  1. Nomination – presenting a particular topic clearly, truthfully, and saying only what is relevant;
  2. Restriction – constraining the response/reaction within a set of categories;
  3. Turn-taking – recognizing when and how to speak because it is one’s turn;
  4. Topic control – keeping the interaction going by asking questions and eliciting a response;
  5. Topic shifting – introducing a new topic followed by the continuation of that topic;
  6. Repair – overcoming communication breakdown to send more comprehensible messages; and
  7. Termination – using verbal and nonverbal signals to end the interaction.


When introducing a topic at the beginning of a Communicative Situation, what is being used is the Nomination Communicative Strategy. It is a strategy that can also be applied any time during the course of an interaction as a way of continuing the communication. When this strategy is used, the topic is introduced in a clear and truthful manner, stating only what is relevant to keep the interaction focused.

Example: Have you noticed the weird weather lately? Is this because of global warming?

Example: I was late for class again! The MRT stopped midway. What is wrong with the MRT?


Restriction Communicative Strategy is a strategy that constrains or restricts the Response of the other person involved in the Communication Situation. The Listener is forced to respond only within a set of categories that is made by the Speaker.

Example: They say that the Philippine economy is getting better. Only the stupid think that, right? (No one wants to be stupid.)

Example: That arrest move was a disaster waiting to happen. Do you agree? (Yes/No)


Turn-taking Communicative Strategy requires that each Speaker speaks only when it is his/her turn during an interaction. Knowing when to talk depends on watching out for the verbal and nonverbal cues that signal the next Speaker that the previous Speaker has finished or the topic under discussion has been exhausted and a new topic may be introduced. At the same time, it also means that others should be given the opportunity to take a turn. Turn-taking Communicative Strategy uses either an informal approach (just jump in and start talking) or a formal approach (permission to speak is requested).

Example: I agree with the point just made. But may l add that OFWs would rather be home and work here so they could be with their families.

Example: May I have the floor, sir? The topic under discussion is the state of the Philippine economy today. We want better lives for all Filipinos, whether they are working here or abroad.

Topic Control

After the Nomination Communicative Strategy, the interaction is kept going by using the Topic-Control Communicative Strategy. This is simply a question-answer formula that moves the discussion forward. This also allows the Listener or the other participants to take turns, contribute ideas, and continue the discussion.

Example: How often do you ride the MRT, Tony? How many times have you encountered a stoppage in service?

Example: Your car may break down, too, Luna, right? So you have to find another means of getting to school. We all do not want to be late for class, yes?

Topic Shifting

Topic-Shifting Communicative-Strategy is the strategy that is useful in introducing another topic. This Strategy works best when there is follow-through so that a new topic continues to be discussed. This is also used in Repair Communicative Strategy.

Example: This is a battle with corporations that continue to pollute the environment. But this is also a battle with man himself, who continues to act as if there is another Earth we can move to once this Earth dies.

Example: If we cannot use the Earth’s resources, our economies will die. We need to choose: the economy or the environment.


We have already learned that communication almost always breaks down. When miscommunication occurs, one can apply the Repair Communicative Strategy that includes requesting clarification, not acknowledging, topic shifting, not responding, repeating, recasting, and adding. One requests clarification by asking questions or using eyebrows, eyes, head, or shoulders to show that the Message could not be understood. By not acknowledging the new situation, the situation already in progress will continue. Topic shifting can help direct the discussion to another topic or divert the attention of the Listener from the topic that has become problematic.

Repeating is a good way of correcting oneself and gives the Speaker time to do just that. Recasting means changing the form of a Message that could not be understood. It allows the Speaker to say the Message in another way so that the Listener can understand what was originally incomprehensible.

Example: I have ordered Colonel…uh…General Pano to look into this matter. He, General Pano I mean, will report directly to me, as President of the Philippines.

Example: When we look at the World Wide Web, more popularly known as wwww… excuse me, www, we find that this Information Highway or rather Superhighway is the means toward becoming part of a globally economy, a global economy.


Lastly, Termination Communicative Strategy ends the interaction through verbal and nonverbal Messages that both Speaker and Listener send to each other. Sometimes the Termination is quick and short. Sometimes it is prolonged by clarifications, further questions, or the continuation of the topic already discussed, but the point of the language and body movement is to end the communication.


P1: So that’s it for our plans in the upcoming Student Council elections.
P2: Yes.
P3: Okay, all done.
P4: Finished.
P1: See you in class.
P2, P3, P4: See you later.