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Communication Effectiveness – The Psychology of Shaping, Sending & Receiving Signals!

SERIES: Part One of a Five-Part Article

As a leader, how you tactically shape and send communication signals to others will have a direct influence on how others perceive you as a leader and embrace your communication signals! Communication effectiveness in sending and receiving signals in the work place is critical to keeping everyone on the same game plan and not creating minor implosions for miscommunication. With a better understanding of the shared commonalities between the sender and receiver, a leader can become increasingly more effective in creating a hospitable environment for the communicators.

When crafting a communication signal, the tactical leader must recognize that for all of the differences among the individuals involved in the communication exchange, there are some shared commonalities concerning the communication psychology. As a sender (encoder) of a signal or the receiver (decoder) of a signal, it is important to see the psychology of communication as circular in design; what occurs within the process of sending a signal is similar to what occurs in receiving the signal.

To improve the process of sending communications (whether printed correspondence and memos, email, voice mail, teleconference, face-to-face interactions or group presentations), consider the six evolving variables of the process:

1.   YOU as Sender =

2.   Encoding Via =

3.   How one Thinks (logic, rationalization, analyze…) and

4.   How one Feels (instinct, emotion, experiences…) =

5.   Shaped by your Filters =

6.   Your Intentions =

7.   The communication signal that actually leaves as a representation of you!

“The words that you choose to use are the only representation I have of who you are and how you wish to be judged!” Explosive advice from a trusted colleague, Mr. Jim Stovall, President of the Emmy Award-Winning Narrative Television Network, television for the sight impaired viewed daily by millions!

To further enhance your ability to craft powerful words and messages, recognize that within the norm of communication exchanges in the work place how one goes about sending a signal is mirrored in the receiving side as well. Recognizing as much as you can about the intended recipient of your signal will help you tactically adjust the building and sending of a signal for maximum impact!

1.   THEM as Receiver =

2.   Decoding Via =

3.   How one Thinks (logic, rationalization, analyze…)=

4.   How one Feels (instinct, emotion, experiences…) =

5.   Shaped by their Filters =

6.   Their Perceptions =

7.   The communication signal that actually is received as a representation of you!

What causes most communication breakdowns in the workplace today is when the psychology of communication is obstructed due to the sender or receiver, which in turn allows their FILTERS to be violated. There are six shared FILTERS that influence how we think and feel in the process of communication. If violated, the communication exchange process typically will break down, and one or both parties will feel compelled to defend the filter that they feel has been challenged. The six common shared filters are:

1.   Age

2.   Gender

3.   Race

4.   Education (formal, informal, technical, certifications, etc.)

5.   Socioeconomic position and background

6.   Profession(or cumulative professional backgrounds)

All of these shape how one encodes and decodes. The more you know about the other person, the more you will recognize that six filters are not a finite number. Rather, there are an infinite number of filters one can have. The six is merely a shared starting point. If you know what your filters are, that’s great! But remind yourself that if the recipient does not share a similar filter, you shouldn’t let that filter become such an over influencer of the signal that it becomes the filter violation breakdown!

Example: When I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma a few years ago, I found myself being turned off by a great number of individuals when it came to communication exchanges. I soon was able to isolate the cause…it was a filter violation. In Oklahoma there is a shared number seven filter (RELIGION, or a derivative thereof) that is used to influence how almost everyone communicates; outside of Oklahoma it is exceedingly unprofessional. Once I was able to recognize what it was that I was unaccustomed to, I was able to set that to the side. Now, I hear people for the signal they are sending and not the one they are violating.

Should you need to engage someone on your team, there may be a reason for you to suspect that there could be a communication filter violation that would impede the flow of encoding and decoding. Therefore, you should preface the signal intent with a respectful reference to their filter, encouraging their ear to remain focused on the intention and not shut you out at the first sign of a filter violation. It could sound like this:

“With all due respect, I know that you have been doing this for some time (profession, education and possibly age filters have just been referenced). What are your thoughts on…?”

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