Communication is a critical action that is done in a variety of ways across different cultures and settings. It is done at school, work, home and the grocery store. It can be done face-to-face or through technology with one person or multiple people. However, communication can be a challenging concept; have you ever left a conversation knowing that you forgot to mention a particular detail? Following the steps outlined below will lead you to a better communication process.
Identifying Needs and Purpose
The first step to the communication process is to identify the needs and purpose of the conversation. You can do this by considering a few questions like, “What is it that I need to accomplish in this conversation?” or “Why am I having this conversation?” Just taking time to assess your intent and direction will automatically help in identifying different approaches and ideas for communicating and managing effective conversations (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Establishing Key Points
After an initial brainstorming session to organize thoughts and ideas, the next step in the process is determining key points. In this part of the communications process, it is helpful to write down all the ideas from step one in order to figure out which are the most important and relevant to your audience. Once about all the necessary points have been identified, these should be compiled into a list in order of importance. This will aid in the flow of the overall communication and create a more organized and professional position (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Following the process of identifying key points comes the time to analyze the audience. At this point, it is critical to think about whom your audience is and what its needs and preferences are, as a group. It is beneficial to consider if you will be addressing work strangers, colleagues, family, friends and how these groups prefer to receive communication. It is important during this process to decide if the people you are talking to are all part of a particular demographic, or if there are diverse ages and other factors. An effective communication strategy will be able to address the audience based on their specific preferences and interests. To accomplish this, it is wise to cater your delivery of messages to things that relate to your audience members. This will help hold their attention and get everyone to listen without losing interest in the conversation (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Choosing Communication Channels
The next step in the process after a thorough audience analysis is to figure out the communication channel that is most appropriate for the audience. This is the perfect step to precede step three, because after you figure out who you are talking to, you are going to need to figure out how to address them. For example, if children are in the audience, a good way to engage them is to make your message exciting or story-like. On the other side of the spectrum, if there are young adults in the audience, using vivid images and colors will help gain their attention.
Younger business people may like to communicate by email, where older business people may prefer to interact by phone or in person. Some groups may prefer consistent, weekly communication when others only want to hear from you once in a while. These individual preferences can tell you which is the best channel, whether it is a newsletter, in-person presentation or phone call (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Time to Deliver
Step five is applied when it is time to edit, review and deliver your message. This is the time where it is critical to pay attention to detail and ensure the quality of your work. Begin by reviewing all of your notes; make sure everything is in order and worded a way your audience will understand. If you have chosen to deliver a speech, practice a few times to get rid of some nerves. Then go out there and deliver what it is you are communicating with confidence (University of Phoenix, 2012).
While you are delivering your message, think about what you are saying and watch what your audience is doing. This feedback will let you know if you are connecting with the group and what their reactions are. Consider the following:
* Are they paying attention to you?
* Are people taking notes?
* How is the listener sitting?
* Is there any eye contact between you and the audience?
* Do you have a bouncing leg while you are sitting?
Not paying attention to these important cues could misdirect a conversation and lead to missing a key point that you are trying to convey (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Receiving your response is near the end of the communication process. This is a great opportunity to learn from yourself and from others. You can learn from yourself by understanding what you did right and wrong, based on audience feedback and responses. This could be determined by the confidence you had or the body language you presented.
Understanding what your audience felt about your communication is an essential part of communicating. It is not a bad idea to ask for feedback because it could lead to finding out that the presentation was particularly relevant or irrelevant for a certain field or demographic. Appropriately receiving responses helps you to grow as a communicator and learn new ways to communicate, contributing to future success (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Feedback and Follow Up
The final step to complete the communication process is to seek feedback and follow-up. During this step, a communicator will determine if more communication is necessary and when. This step allows a communicator to understand if messages were seen as clear with all of your key points for the audience to understand them. If you receive a great deal of questions after you communicate, it is a good indication that you will need additional communication to provide more information. If you do not receive questions, you can also opt to use a survey or ask follow up questions to understand how the process went. Getting feedback and following-up on the things you conversed about shows that you care and are connected with your audience (University of Phoenix, 2012).
Listening and Responding
One thing that you want to do as well as follow the steps is to learn to listen and respond. Listening is a very important part of the communication process. It is a way to show the person communicating with you that you are engaged in the conversation. Become an active listener by creating an interest in the speaker and the message that is being communicated. Also, learn to be focused. People sometimes look like they are listening but sometimes they may be thinking of something completely different than what is actually being discussed. When asked a question what do people do? They respond to it. After listening to a question people think about how they are going to respond. Sometimes people answer fast but other times people may need some time to react and think about what to say.
There are a few ways that you are able to answer these questions. One is to evaluate the question by judging it or advising it. This way really only works well if you are asked for advice and if the person listening does not like it they will rebuttal it. An interpretation response would be handy if you are to be explaining something such as why somebody could do a particular thing. Supporting a person that makes the statement is a good way to show support and reassurance. If you are unsure of all the details in a conversation the questioning method will prove useful because it can clarify the meaning and details of the conversation. Lastly, paraphrasing, by paraphrasing a conversation you are showing that you understand what you have been told and are interested in finding the root solution. (Cheesebro, O’Connor, & Rios, 2010) Conclusion
The eight steps in this communication process are a complete approach to communicating successfully. Understanding and applying these steps is a great way to advance in business and in personal relations. Once you are more comfortable with how the communication process works, you should have also learned about how to listen and respond during appropriately. Successful communication will come in handy for every job that you have. If you follow the steps and listen to feedback, you will be able to learn from all your experiences and grow as a communications professional. Regardless of where and when you communicate, this process will be a helpful guide and valuable resource.
Cheesebro, T., O’Connor, L., & Rios, F. (2010). Communicating in the Workplace . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.. University of Phoenix. (2012). Communication Process. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, BCOM275 website.
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