Get Flexible: 4 Communication Channels to Consider When Crafting a Message

Last month I wrote about how the meaning of your communication is the response you get, measured by the other person’s behavior. In that post, I mentioned that communication gaps can be prevented if the communicator is more flexible to meet the needs of the listener. This is so important to successful communication that I wanted to dig deep on one specific way to improve your communication.

Four Communication Channels

Imagine you are strolling down the streets of Paris and want directions. You can hear the locals chatting away, so you stop at a coffee shop and ask for help. Do you ask in English or French? If English is the only language you know, then that will be your preference, and will likely meet with only limited success. What if you were flexible and skilled enough to switch languages on the fly to meet their needs? While many of us do not have the time, inclination, or need to learn a new language, how we structure our communication in our own language can create a similar effect.

There are four main communication channels to consider when crafting your message:

  • Visual: People operating in this channel prefer images and pictures to help them fully receive the message. This could entail standing at the white board and animating the idea in your head, or even helping them to see the images in their own mind’s eye. Imagine a bright, sunny day with rich blue skies and fluffy white clouds occasionally shading the sun during your afternoon walk.
  • Auditory: Folks here want to listen to the words, tone, and stories you have to offer. Consider mimicking the sounds of the thing you are describing, whether it be a crash or a boom or a soothing wave. Listen to the birds chirp and sing as the water bubbles in the stream. You hear your heartbeat slowing down and your footprints whispering in the grass.
  • Kinesthetic: How does it feel? Your message here can draw on emotions or a tactile experience to provide awareness. Consider that passionate analogy that connects our hearts together. Lift your face to feel the warmth of the sun as the blades of grass slip between your toes. Sip that ice-cold drink and relax for the first time in days.
  • Digital: This communication channel is devoid of the senses and is very logical. Often list-based, this mode involves thinking things through to arrive at the best conclusion or processing the facts and figures until a decision can be made. In addition, Digital thinking will move step by step in a predictable and repeatable sequence. I have decided to walk 10,000 steps per day to increase my health and I am currently 2/3 of the way through that today.

Does one of these four resonate with you more than others? Can you see these patterns in others around you? Does one of these snippets feel more right, or does one make more sense than the others?

Your Next Move

The first step in gaining flexibility is knowing your natural preferences and learning to expand to use other channels. As you increase your flexibility to communicate in just the way your listener prefers, watch how quickly rapport deepens and communication improves.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Bair

Dave brings a unique talent for system and process implementation to the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder and also leads our team of coaches. His history of consulting with major corporations to implement change has enabled him to build an impressive coaching framework to guide church leaders towards operational effectiveness. Dave and his wife of many years have a daughter, studying chemistry in college, and a son in high school who's passions include saxophone and drums. In addition for finding Dave at DaveBair.co you may occasionally spot him piloting his hot air ballon in the western sky.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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