Reach Your Audience
When you know what you want to achieve through your communication, you might think that the next step would be to hone your content. Instead, you must first consider the audience.
When professional writers take on an assignment, one of the first questions they ask is the nature of the audience. They know that the points they will make and the tone and vocabulary they use will depend completely on the answer.
You'd talk to a group of business executives differently than the way you'd address a grade school class. Every audience, no matter what the size, has its own needs, preconceptions, and expectations. To reach your audience, you have to speak the right language.
Finding the Audience Need
You've started your approach to communication by considering the goal and what you need to achieve. But you can't forget the need of the people on the receiving end. They have their own relationships to the goal, their own responsibilities, and their own lives as well. They are independent and aren't bound to follow your lead, even if you directly employ them.
Communication in companies often breaks down at this point. The dangerous attitude is “We hired them, so they have to do what we want.” What a foolish assumption! Resentful underlings have scuttled more strategies than any set of fierce competitors, all because they weren't treated as human beings and they received no consideration for what they needed.
This mistaken approach consists of talking
The answer is to speak the language of the people on your team. Don't use a pandering approach, like using specific slang to better fit in. Talking so that a group of people hears you means acknowledging them and addressing their concerns. Although you want to achieve something through your communications, put yourself into the shoes of the audience members and let their needs come first. To really get into those shoes and to learn to better hear others, it helps to understand how people listen.
Management experts know that employees often have the best idea of what is really happening in the company. They are the people who face the problems, customers, and organizational shortcomings.
Types of Listeners
People listen in many different ways, and the way someone listens determines how much of a message actually gets through. Mismatch the type of communication with the listening style, and up to 70 percent of what a person hears or reads can be lost.
When you better understand how people listen, you start to modify how you communicate so that others will get an even larger percentage of the message. There are five basic types of listening:
Appreciating: Listeners become completely involved and pay close attention; if not totally engaged, they may miss a point.
Empathizing: Listeners try to match their experience to what they are hearing but can become so wrapped up in one aspect of the information that they can miss something equally important.
Comprehending: Those who listen through comprehending try to organize and make sense of the messages being sent and to understand the relationships among ideas; they often miss unspoken communication or the subtext of a message.
Discerning: These listeners want complete and accurate information and will sift and weigh each bit of information for accuracy, validity, and content. If the speed of processing the information doesn't keep pace with the delivery, they may miss things.
Evaluating: Evaluators put information into a larger context and will accept or reject messages based on personal beliefs. They will miss anything that doesn't fit into their belief systems.
The better you can understand these types, the greater your chance of delivering your messages. The real challenge is to teach others — and yourself — to use multiple methods to improve listening as much as possible.