Communication consists of an individual sending a message and a receiver evaluating the message.
The following seven elements comprise the communication process:
- The situation is when, where, and under what circumstances the communication interaction takes place. The situation dictates word choice, channel, and the probability of the message being understood correctly.
- The speaker is the person who has information to send to another individual. The speaker’s primary concern must be that the receiver understands the message.
- The message is the information that needs to be sent to another person. Messages must be simple and easy to understand. The receiver should understand why a message was sent to him or her, and the receiver should know what he or she is expected to do in response.
- The channel is the method used to communicate a message. The urgency of the message and the tools available will determine the channel used in a particular situation.
- The receiver of a message is the individual who hears or reads the message. Unless someone receives a message, no communication has taken place.
- Interference is anything that hinders the clear reception or understanding of a communicated message. Internal interference comes from within the receiver. For example, an individual may have a difficult time listening if he or she is stressed about another project. External interference occurs when environmental factors interrupt a message’s delivery. Constant office traffic is a common form of external interference.
- Feedback occurs when the receiver becomes the sender and responds to the original message. Communication then becomes two-way instead of one-way.
Adapt to the Receiver
In order to communicate successfully, you should adapt your message to the receiver. It is important to be aware of the receiver’s knowledge level, so you can provide the appropriate amount of information. If you provide the receiver with too much information, he or she may become bored or insulted. If you do not provide enough information to the receiver, he or she may become confused or misunderstand your message.
In addition to the receiver’s knowledge level, you should also consider the best words and channel for communicating your message to the receiver. When you are planning your message, keep the following questions in mind:
- What is the receiver’s interest in your message?
- What does the receiver need to know?
- How much does the receiver already know?
- How much information do you need to share to get your point across to this receiver?
- What channel will best communicate your message?
- What channel will best communicate to this receiver?
Why is my word choice important?
The words you choose to communicate your message to another person are important because they influence how your message is received. In most situations, it is best to use positive language since it draws both the speaker and the listener into a conversation. It presents an all-inclusive attitude and makes all parties feel empowered. You can use positive language to show that you have confidence in your message. The following guidelines can help you use positive language:
- Express your opinions as statements, not facts or questions. When you express your opinions as fact, it can cause the receiver to become defensive. When you express your opinions as questions, you are communicating in a non assertive manner, and some receivers may not realize you are expressing your opinion.
- Use ”and” instead of ”but” in your communication. When people hear the word ”but,” they tend to forget everything you said before it. Replacing ”but” with ”and” makes your message positive and ensures your entire message is heard. For example, saying, ”Your report was interesting, but I would like more information,” is not as positive as saying, ”Your report was interesting, and I would like more information.”
- Say positive statements before neutral statements. Some times the order in which you communicate your message influences how it is received. For example, if you say, ”How did you come up with this idea?” your receiver may become defensive because this question is neutral and he or she doesn’t know how you feel about the idea. If you say, ”I really like your idea. How did you come up with it?” the receiver knows your viewpoint from the outset.
- Use ”I” to show ownership of your emotions and opinions. When expressing your emotions or opinions, it is important to take ownership for them. By using ”I” in your statements, you can make your communication assertive, and you will not confuse or blame others. For example, saying, ”I’m feeling frustrated with this transition process,” is more positive than saying, ”They didn’t plan this transition well.”