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Jon Warner – Author, Speaker, Management Consultant and Executive Coach

Communication

Types of Communication Skills

January 11, 2013 by Dr. Jon Warner in Communication with 0 Comments

Types of Communication Skills

We participate in communication exchanges for a range of reasons. These might include to inform a person or a group, to get information, to get action, to understand and be understood, to change behavior and to persuade, for example.

A training workshop might be one example of a particular type of communication exchange in which we have particular communication goals (both for workshop participants and for the workshop facilitator): For participants, these might be to “Get Information” and for a Facilitator might to “Give Information”.

A performance appraisal discussion would be a different type of communication exchange, in which a key goal would also be to “Give and Get Information”. However, it is also likely to include the communication goals and skills of “Persuading” the other party, as well as “Getting Behavior Change”.

Listening to a child talk about their day at school is another type of communication exchange. As a parent and a child listen and talk (send and receive), each party is likely to engage in a lot of attempts to “Persuade” along with a strong attempt on both sides to “Get action” of some kind.

Common to all three of these scenarios are:

  • Particular communication goals or purposes
  • A flow of communication by both sending / transmitting / talking and then receiving / listening

So to achieve our goals we engage in both listening and talking / sending and receiving, and both parties will obviously be seeking to communicate with each other. These communication activities can be described as either “pushing” or “pulling” information (and both are very different types of communication skills).

An alternative way of expressing what is stated above is to suggest that because there’s a lot of information out there, we all tend to seek to find the pieces or parts of the communication puzzle that we think we need. This is where we absorb or “pull’ information that we feel might be useful to us. Examples might be doing an Internet search or asking someone for directions or information.

On the other hand, we also have to give information to people to get them to do something – this is where we transmit or “push” information out to people. Examples might be advertising our products, calling someone to tell them about a meeting, or announcing some organizational changes.

Of course, there’s also a lot of information that is pushed at us, some of which we absorb and some of which we filter out.

This is where our communication efforts or goals tend to achieve varying levels of success – just because we talk doesn’t mean anyone has listened! Just because we’ve listened (or more accurately just heard the words) doesn’t mean we’ve understood. And just because we’ve understood doesn’t mean we’re persuaded. And just because we’re persuaded (ourselves personally or anyone else) doesn’t mean we’re going to do anything about it!

The Communication Effects Hierarchy

Although we clearly both ‘send’ and ‘receive’ in order to communicate effectively (or to achieve our influencing goals) communication studies reveal a hierarchy of the progressive effects of communication attempts. This hierarchy is shown in the pyramid diagram below.

Communication Effects Hierarchy Pyramid

At the base of this suggested communication effects hierarchy (or, if you like, the very first stage of an attempt to influence) is Awareness (if we don’t achieve that, we’ve done nothing).

Next in the hierarchy comes Absorption (or what is sometimes also called retention). At this stage, just because someone’s aware of what we’ve said, doesn’t mean they will necessarily remember it – in fact, people typically forget about 50% of what they hear instantly, with as much as 75% of it gone within hours.

The next level of Acceptance means that not only has the other party been aware of our communication efforts or attempts, but they have retained something significant from it and properly digested or accepted what we’ve communicated.

But, just accepting what we’ve communicated doesn’t mean that the other party has agreed with it or feels positively towards it. That only happens if he or she engages with it to the point that he or she forms a personal opinion or Attitude about what has been communicated.

Finally, (if we get there at all of course) we get to behavior or Action. Which is where most of us (perhaps unrealistically at times) start out expecting to arrive pretty quickly!

In summary then, what type of communication we are attempting, we must remember that if we want to be successfully at influencing another person or a group, we have to take them through all five stages of this hierarchy.


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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon is Editor-in-chief of ReadyToManage, Inc. and can be reached at Jon@OD-center.org

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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