Communication is a fascinating topic to study. We talk or write, and neurons fire in our brain that translate those signals to language. For most of us, language translates to our voice, and sound waves carry our thought to people’s ears. Then their brains pick up the signal and fire neurons to interpret what we’ve said to them.
As someone with ADHD, there are elements of communication that are natural to many people that are not natural to me. One of the big ones for me is being in my head when someone tries to initiate a conversation in public. My brain is ping-ponging thoughts back and forth, and when someone waves or speaks to me, I can miss the signal they’d like to talk.
What I’m saying is I know communication can be a tricky dance. And that’s why I decided to study the art and science of communication in college.
One of the most important things my courses taught me is to consider my audience when I communicate.
Audience analysis is an essential element of successfully communicating in many helpful articles about improving communication in the workplace or our personal lives. If we understand the context of our audience, we can tailor our message to improve the transmission of our thoughts.
For example, let’s take the phrase “I think” and apply audience analysis to this phrase. You’ve probably read a business article telling readers to avoid using “I think” because it is often interpreted as a qualifier to indicate a measure of uncertainty.
And that’s 100% true when you’re giving a presentation or answering a question from your boss about how you should move forward on a project.
Flip this around and use it at home, though, and you can avoid interpersonal conflicts. Leading a statement in a tense moment with “I think...” is an invitation to dialog. Removing this phrase can create tension in moments where you might not intend to escalate a conversation.
One phrase, two different situations, and two different outcomes.
Always consider your audience when you communicate. It will make you a better communicator.