Developing a Personal Communication Strategy


How we communicate with others undoubtedly has a dramatic, profound and sometimes everlasting effect on how we are perceived as a person generally and certainly determines what kind of reaction we are likely to elicit from those around us in the moment.


This was demonstrated to me clearly recently at a client meeting in which several people attended and it was fascinating to see the interaction between the participants. It seemed we had every flavour of personal characteristic in attendance from the supremely confident/arrogant to the shrinking violet and the uber negative type. Each of them displayed a variety of communication methods and channels and on several occasions failing miserably in getting their message across.


This led me to ponder how I might instruct and inductee on how to develop their own personal communication strategy, which can be employed in all undertakings with those around them and could be used both personally and professionally.


The process of communication can be represented by this six-step model:


Step 1            -           Identify your objectives

Step 2            -           Identify the recipients

Step 3            -           Choose the method of communication

Step 4            -           Match the message to the recipient

Step 5            -           Get feedback

Step 6            -           Respond to feedback


Simple you might say… except when communication fails, it is often because one or more parts of the process have been omitted. The model above is indeed a simple tool, both for planning communication and for diagnosing the cause of failure if it does occur.  This may be a straightforward model but in practice barriers to communication can occur at any or all of the steps.


Let’s have a look at what each step means:


Step 1 – Identify your Objectives


Ask yourself the following types of questions:


  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What do I want the receiver to be able to do or think as a result of my communication?
  • In what ways am I trying to influence them?


Step 2 – Identify the Recipients


Who needs to know what you are communicating?  In organisations is it important to be alert to:


  • Who absolutely must be informed?
  • Who also needs to know?
  • Whom it would be courteous to keep informed?


Step 3 – Choose the Method / Channel of Communication


The method or channel must be suitable for the purpose. For example, you may be old enough to recall that the Governments early attempts to influence the sexual behaviour of young people through TV adverts about HIV/AIDS in the 1980s was severely criticised.


Critics pointed out that the policy/strategy was poorly thought out stating that TV advertising was not the most effective channel of communication as the age group being targeted (16-25’s) actually watches TV far less frequently than any others in the population. Those who watch TV the most (over 55’s) were also likely to be the ones least likely to be exposed to the HIV/AIDs virus.


Sometimes the problem may not be that the channel is wrong, but that there is no obvious channel.  If TV advertising was not the right way to reach people to influence them about their sexual behaviour, then what was?


  • What channels might you have suggested back then?
  • Is there a problem concerning lack of an obvious channel in your work for instance in communicating with customers, suppliers, other units of the organisation, bosses, colleagues?


Step 4 – Match the Message to the Recipient


Many attempts at communications fail at this stage.  Essentially, you can only communicate well when:


  • You have an accurate profile of the recipient of the message
  • You convey your understanding of the recipient in the way you communicate


An accurate profile means that you have all the information you need on:


  • Communication style
  • Likely opinions on the topic under review
  • Any ideas or assumptions likely to cause resistance


The basic rule is to:  KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE


Step 5 – Get Feedback


True communication involves a complete loop between sender and recipient.


The sender send out the message; the recipient receives and (usually) gives a response or feedback. Your communication may be skilfully adapted to the needs of the recipient but if you haven’t made provisions for feedback it could still fail.


Equally, if you are the receiver and have no chance to give feedback, the person communicating with you is unlikely to be successful.


Step 6 – Respond to Feedback


The final part of the communication chain is about taking account of the feedback you receive. 


For example, when you give someone in your team a performance appraisal, it is wise to ask for their feedback on how you manage them and your style and perhaps you may consider a change to some of your behaviour as a result.


At Maguire Training we have many different courses that can help you develop your personal interactions with others and establish a powerful communication style. Havea look at these examples or call us on 0333 5777 144 for more information.


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