A Seemingly Simple Process
Do you treat communication as a process? Or an event? What’s the difference? Understanding how to develop a communication process approach to your communication is a potential game changer. .
That said, while the process illustrated by this flow chart may be simple, implementation is where most people struggle and fail.
Communication Process Flowchart
Applicable to all communication methods and media.
Where is your Emphasis?
For communication to achieve its purpose you need to be aware that you play two different critical roles:
- The Sender (speaker or author)
- The Receiver (listener or reader or viewer)
Most professional development focuses only on #1, The Sender role. That is the event approach. It operates on a false assumption:
All communication you SEND is fully RECEIVED and understood.
We don’t need an elaborate clinical study to invalidate the event approach assumption. We witness miscommunication countless times every day. Yet we somehow hang on to this false assumption, to the detriment of being effective with our communication.
What if you placed as much emphasis on your role as The Receiver of communication as you do with your Sender role?
An Atmosphere of Blame
When communication fails, how often do you blame the other person for their failure in one of these two roles?
Can you recognize any of these blaming remarks?
- You didn’t explain it properly
- I couldn’t decode your acronyms
- You never read my email!
- I didn’t receive your email
- I mentioned that in our 90 minute meeting.
- I assumed everyone understood.
- No one asked any questions
- It was clearly stated on bullet 7 of slide 33
- My dog was barking. I couldn’t hear.
Feel free to imagine you own examples. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the prevalence of blame wherever the event approach to communication applies.. Notice blaming by both yourself and by your communication partners.
Is it possible that you’re viewing your communication partners as something other than partners in a process? Instead perhaps as some type of recording or assimilation device that magically captures all your words and intentions for permeant storage and retrieval? Isn’t that the event approach?
There must be a better way!
Imagine An Atmosphere of Responsibility
Imagine if you and everyone around you stopped playing The Blame Game and instead took full responsibility in each of their roles as sender and receiver? What if you established an environment where everyone in your circle was equally responsible? What would happen to the amount of dysfunction in your world?
Communication Role Awareness
In the Communication Process, be aware that you will always be switching between wearing you Senders Hat and your Receivers Hat. Wearing each of those hats requires responsibility and accountability. Failure to to be a responsible communicator will derail the process.
Whether you are wearing the Sender’s Hat or the Receivers Hat, be accountable for your role.
NEVER PLACE BLAME ON YOUR COMMUNICATION PARTNER!
Engage in the PROCESS of effective, blameless communication by being accountable in both of your roles. Here’s my suggestions.
Wearing The Receiver's Hat
Your Key Accountabilities
- Avoid pretending to understand – when you don’t – a.k.a. Ignorance Phobia
- Ask clarifying questions as needed
- Make an effort to be an effective listener and/or reader of critical communications.
- Understand the emotions of the Sender that relate to the topic.
- Imagine the content could be on the Final Exam
Wearing The Sender's Hat
Your Key Accountabilities
- Never ASSUME that your message is both received and understood
- Develop empathy for your audiences’ obstacles to getting the message
- Find ways to gain feedback to assure your message is understood
Stop The Blame and Change The Game
Be Accountable to the Simple Communication Process
Assuming you want to stop being part of the problem and become part of a solution, I recommend that you:
- Choose to STOP approaching communication as an event.
- Choose to START taking radical responsibility for your roles as Sender and Receiver
- Lead by example to create an atmosphere of blameless, responsible communication among those you lead. It’s the only way to stop The Blame Game