Analog television is no more! Stations are now digital broadcasters. If you have an analog television you can no longer receive programming without a digital converter box, changing your television, or ordering a paid programming service. Most of you reading this are of an age where you probably had no analog television to begin with! Yet, you understand that you cannot communicate on a digital channel with an analog signal. You must communicate using the same channel--the same send-and-receive technology--whether you are electronic devices or human beings.
Electronic devices communicate using specific communications protocols. The sending (transmitting) device must use the same communications protocol as the receiving (listening) device in order for messages to get through and be interpreted correctly. (And that is as detailed as I get with technology in this column.) People also use communications protocols. The message sender (you) must use the same communications protocol (language) as that which I use in order for me to receive and interpret your messages correctly. Language, however, is more complicated than electronic protocols. Many variables come into play when it comes to "speaking the same language".
The language to which I refer in this article involves the way we use our senses to process messages. Our senses are our communications channels. Each of us has our own primary channel through which we best receive and internalize messages. In various contexts these channels are referred to as learning styles, sensory receptors, neurolinguistic programming, or multiple intelligences. To communicate more clearly, determine the primary channel - visual (sight; eyes), auditory (sound; ears), or kinesthetic (touch; motion) - through which your message receiver processes messages. You can then transmit your message on that same channel to ensure the best reception.
One of the ways in which to learn the primary communications channel a person uses to communicate effectively is through assessment instruments. These instruments ask questions about or make statements regarding how a person best communicates. The assessment-taker responds based on his or her preferences. A scoring system presents a "grade" that provides a reference for people to have a basis for understanding each other's communications channels. Do an Internet search on "communication style assessments" and the result is over 553,000 entries linking to scientifically-based and pop psychology-based, fee-required and free assessments available to you. Consider this, though: How many times in the course of a normal day do you ask someone what their communication style may be before you talk or write to them? If you are like most of us...seldom if ever. So how do you figure out what another person's best communications channel is in order to transmit to them using their signals?
Listen to how THEY communicate! The words and gestures they use give you a good indication of their primary communication style and how best to communicate with them. Each of us responds best to certain types of words because these words "reach" the sensory receptor to which we best respond. Typically, when a person is primarily a visual communicator she thinks in pictures and "visual words" such as "see, appear, look, and inspect". She uses visual words throughout her speech. When you hear them used frequently you can deduce she is a primarily-visual communicator. She interprets the written word better than the spoken word. Writing things down and sketching concepts ensures you effectively communicate with this person most often. An auditory person best communicates using "sound words" such as "hear, state, talk, and speak". Repeat or rephrase your message verbally in order to effectively communicate with this person. He retains the spoken better than the written word. Someone who is kinesthetic best communicates using "feeling and texture words" such as "feel, grasp, and touch". He retains information best through active hands-on-experiences and sensory triggers that involve taste and smell.
As with any categorization or generalization involving people, communication channels are seldom "either / or" in any one person. We use all of our senses when we communicate and receive messages in all of these ways at one point in time or another. The signals we provide in the words we use represent our primary communications channels rather than our only channels. Listen for the types of words a person uses the most and those words indicate the most-effective means by which that person receives, translates (interprets), and retains (understands) what it is you have to communicate.
The best way to communicate is to use a little of each type of wording to be sure you reach as many senses as possible. For example: an interviewer asks you to tell her how you handled a time when you were disappointed at an outcome. You lean forward and describe the following scenario. "Imagine a busy classroom environment with a cacophony of voices providing a continuous background of noise. Your body is tense with anticipation of the news; people shift around in their seats unable to sit still; a cell phone buzzes as it vibrates, jolting everyone's attention to one area of the room. Suddenly someone moans in despair, 'I just received the a message that I didn't make the team!' I realized-too late-that that someone was me. And this is how I handled the disappointment." This scenario connects with the listener on many levels. Saying "imagine" means they must do so. You paint a picture of the scene (visual), describe sounds (auditory), and evoke feelings (kinesthetic). Continue with a story of how you handled the disappointment and you hold the interviewer captivated on multiple levels.
Take the time to tune into other people's channels and you can adjust how you communicate messages to best ensure they are heard and understood. Employ aspects of multiple channels for your most effective means of communicating.
Reference: Additional words to consider using for each channel:
Visual - analyze, clear, demonstrate, distinguish, examine, focus, horizon, illustrate, observe, outlook, perceive, perspective, picture, pinpoint, reveal, see, show, notice, view, vague, watch.
Auditory - alarm, announce, articulate, ask, audible, compose, converse, discuss, earshot, enunciate, inquire, interview, listen, loud, mention, noise, pronounce, remark, report, ring, say, scream, shout, silence, sound, speechless, tell, tone, tune, voice.
Kinesthetic - active, carry, concrete, emotional, feel, foundation, grasp, heated, hit, hold, impact, impress, irritate, motion, panic, pressure, rush, sensitive, shallow, sharpen, shock, solid, stress, support, tension, tired, touch, unbearable.