Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Adapting Communication to Others

If we accept the idea that each of us is unique, then we can see that our work is really cut out for us when it comes to communication. If what you’re saying must be fit to each person then it really is a huge task. There are high priority communications and are most important to us, and in these situations we need to take the utmost care. The risk is the prioritizing process is that none of us know the future and what you thought of as a lower priority may turn out to be very high.

If we could achieve the ideal in every situation then we would know enough to properly choose symbols (words), how these symbols should be ordered (grammar) and how and when to deliver the communication. We don’t live in an ideal world. So we must begin as soon as possible to pay careful attention to people. According to C. S. Lewis, “There are no ordinary people.” But as we observe people, we begin to discover that there are patterns and adaptations that can be used that help in the process of communication. Be a student of people.

The more you know about the people you are communicating with the better the chance of effective communication. So there is a whole range of considerations of which we can be aware. Here are some of them:

1) What is their culture or cultures?
2) What is their gender?
3) What is their age or age range?
4) What is their level of education/experience?
5) What media do they spend their time with?
And in a few minutes on your own and you can easily double the length of this list.

You are beginning to understand the complications present when you are attempting to “Ethically adapt your communication to others.” Of course it is important to “know” what you’re trying to say. But keep in mind that people may or may not allow you to say what you want to say. If you don’t appear to be the kind of person who can say what you are trying to say, they will just ignore you. That means in a very real way, you’re working on your next speech everyday of your life. If your audience appears to believe that you can say what you want to say, then you are on the way to adapting what you have to say to your audience.

The more you know about them, the better the chance that you will say what you need to say in a way that they can accept, understand and adopt. Some questions to ask yourself:

1) Who am I?
2) Who do they think I am?
3) What do I know about the subject?
4) What do they know about the subject?
5) What do I think I can tell them?6) What do they think I can tell them?

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