Communication Is a Two-Way Process

As speakers, we sometimes focus exclusively on the information that we want to relay. But your listener or reader may understand your message, understand only a portion of your message, or miss your point entirely—even though you transmitted the information accurately by your standard. It is not enough merely to deliver a message. The message must be received for communication to be successful.

The steps involved in the send-receive a model of communication is:

  • The sender sends a message.
  • The receiver gets the message and personalizes it.
  • The receiver, in turn, sends feedback and thus becomes a sender.
  • The original sender now becomes a receiver and reacts to the feedback.
  • Generally, a new communication sequence is then initiated.

In the send-receive model, receiving or listening is as critical as sending the message because, without listening, it is impossible to personalize and respond to the message.

Listening Behaviors

When you focus only on yourself, you often forget to listen, and as a result, the chances for successful communication are inadequate. Listening is the basis of effective communication and entails much more than just hearing a sound.

Think about the last time you noticed someone obviously not paying attention when you were trying to communicate. What specific behaviors did the person exhibit that led you to believe that he or she was not attending to you? What impact did the person’s behavior have on you?

Perhaps you felt alarmed that your essential message was not getting through properly or frustrated that your audience was not “getting it.” You may have been offended by your listener’s inattention or felt an urge to repeat your message.

You can learn more about listening behavior by examining the type of listener you tend to be.
Read each item and then recognize whether you:

  • Usually, Do
  • Do Sometimes
  • Should Do More Often

    1. I try to make others feel at ease when I am talking with them.

    2. I try not to think about other things when listening to others.

    3. When I listen, I can separate my own ideas and thoughts from the speaker’s.

    4. I can listen to others with whom I disagree.

    5. I try not to form a rebuttal in my head while others are talking.

    6. I observe others’ verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

    7. I let others finish speaking before I begin talking.

    8. I listen to what others say rather than assume that I know what they are going to say.

    9. I concentrate on others’ messages rather than on their physical appearance.

    10. As I listen, I figure out how others are feeling.

    11. I ask others to clarify or repeat information when I am unsure of what was meant.

    12. I can remember the essential details of what others tell me during conversations.

Source: The Federal Emergency Management Agency