Overcoming Communication Palisades: Part One

Yesterday I posted a laundry list of various Communication Palisades.

Obviously there are hundreds of ways you can go and tweak each individual one. For the sake of this post, I will share with you the four step process to overcoming any and all of the communication palisades.

Step one: Whether it is before the communication takes place or after, to overcome the obstacles of communication, you must begin (or re-start) by focusing on preparedness and design. This involves returning to the source and encoding steps of the Shannon-Weaver Model. Is your message as specific as possible? Have you chosen the medium of encoding and the channel with the least amount of noise?

Step two: This step is about running ladders in conversation. At every distance, implement a reminder of the source of where the communication originated as well as the reason for communication. This frequent return not only strengthens the connection of communication, but it allows you to maintain the focus as much as it communicates it to the receiver.

Step three: Communication has to have a certain vivacity to it. Communication isn’t effective if it does not get others enthused, excited, interested, and maybe even a little bit turned on… at your ideas. This third step is vital for those who are communicating something bland, something generic that it’s even hard for you to be interested in. As a PR Specialist, there will be times that you have to swing something, but in a positive sense. What makes the swing negative is when you fake your enthusiasm, when you channel deceitful excitement. A true PR professional will work on convincing themselves of the subjects animation before expressing it to another.

Once you convince yourself, it’s much easier to convince others.

Step four: Flirt with benefits. Communication is a transaction and as you can imagine, the only transactions that seem to “work themselves out” are the ones where the other person feels they are getting a huge benefit out of it. Ask yourself, how can you benefit them? But don’t just answer it yourself, tell them!

Whether you are analyzing your communication strategy before it takes place or revisiting ways to strengthen a communication attempt you have already made, following these four steps will get you past almost every barrier.

The most important variable to consider while taking these steps is to be human. Be real. Be honest. Be caring. But above all, just be human.

The Shannon-Weaver Model

The Shannon-Weaver Model, also known as the Linear Communication Model and the Mathematical Theory of Communication, demonstrates the process of communicating. It also helps you realize why the most effortless acts of communication can result in complete misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

It was in 1947 that Claude E. Shannon created this theory with the intention for it to be used in facilitating information transmission over telephone lines. Not surprisingly, it took on an entirely new role of being one of the most largely used inter-personal communication models to this day.

The model contains 8 key components: Source, Encoder, Message, Channel, Noise, Decoder, Receiver and Feedback.

Source: The source of communication is an individual creator or group of individuals who have a message they wish to be received by another individual or group. The source, or origin of the message, must also have a definite purpose of initiating the communication model.

Encoder: The encoder, also referred to as the sender or transmitter, puts the message into specific signals that will later be interpreted. The encoder must choose distinct forms of signals to represent the meaning of the message clearly.

A gesture of a handshake can be encoded as an image, but it would not work as effectively if it were put into a text format.

Message: The message is the content that is being communicated from one end of the model to the other. Naturally you will send multiple messages that are precise, rather than a single message which has too many meanings.

Channel: The channel is the path on which the message travels. The encoder, while deciding how to best transmit the message, must also consider the best path on which the transmitted message will travel. This channel can be any medium such as magazine, radio, film, internet, etc,.

Noise: Inevitably the channel is already filled with noise; anything that interferes with the transmission of the message. This can be the radio playing too loudly in the background or the encoder’s own inability to enunciate correctly.

Decoder: The decoder simply does the opposite of what the encoder does. The decoder interprets the original message in a way that the receiver will understand. Additionally, the decoder will act as a filter in the sense that the message will have as much noise removed as possible.

Receiver: The receiver is the individual or audience whom the sender had the intention to deliver the message to.

Originally the linear model of communication had stopped there. It wasn’t until Warren
Weaver worked on the fundamentals of the model and added a necessary component. Weaver made the effect of the model orbicular in the sense that he had attached feedback to the model. *See image above.

Feedback: Feedback is the receivers response to the message. The feedback’s intent is to let the encoder know exactly how accurately the message was interpreted as well as simply reporting whether the message was received or not.

Feedback allows the once linear model to become cyclical so that each party – the individual or group at each end of the model – can continue communication.

As an example, we will stick to the model’s origin by using the telephone.

You, the source, wish to convey the message that you have completed the report early to your boss. The message is then encoded as a voice message into the phone, with the phone, or the phones cable being the channel on which the message is traveling. The noise present is simply your daughter screaming in the background as you were working from home this evening. The decoder will present the message as a voice message for the receiver, your boss, to listen to. Your boss will than reciprocate the process and present you with feedback, whether that is simply telling you that you did a good job or hinting at a promotion in the future.