Knowing your audience is a key function in communication that is overlooked. We always remember to listen and speak. We often do not recognize the areas in our lives we can see the person or group to which we are speaking and make a strategic connection. We miss critical opportunities to communicate our strengths and receive feedback that can make us successful.
In “Know Your Audience Part 1” I discussed successful communication in our work lives. In this section I want to discuss the communication in our social lives. Even in our social lives we can harvest positive and meaningful interactions that can provide a successful interaction.
Many of us look at our social interactions as a way to be our genuine selves. This is a correct statement. Our social interactions with friends and family allow us a comfort level to be genuine. In order to truly know which part of our personal social lives allow us to “let our hair down” and relax, we need to be honest about who we truly consider friends and family and who we should move to associates.
The Urban Dictionary defines a true friend as “someone who has touched your heart and will stay there”. ( blauenlanze January 05, 2007) The term “friend” is so easily given as a placeholder when people share an experience. The experience can be relatively small, but now there is this commitment and privilege given to someone who may not even deserve your full attention. This is important because we have limited time in life to make meaningful connections. We want to be honest. It is important to understand that friends and family should be as limited as the number of people we can assign a place card to our own banquet.
Now we can identify and understand that the rest of the people in our social lives are not considered friends - but associates. We want to understand how to communicate successfully with these associates. We want to limit the information that we share with those we consider associates. Sharing information about personal finances, fears, frustrations and vulnerabilities should be reserved for those we consider friends. Maintain a friendly and safe communication that displays a semiprofessional rapport. Identify the areas in life these associates can be of value. Build the relationship around that subject and keep it as a reference point for later use. This will allow each communication with these associates to be strategic. Many associates do cross over to friends as success grows. However, there is still the core group of friends that keep your grounded and allow you that opportunity to relax.
.As we have evolved as a society, our opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and expose others to our own culture can no longer be avoided. This gives everyone a great responsibility. Although we have our own communication styles and peer communication comfort, we have to learn to speak to the audience we are exposed to. This does not mean that we stop being genuine to who we are. In fact, it allows us to tap into our many communication styles that we have now been educated to develop.
An article in Forbes magazine written by Amy Rees Anderson points out a study by Dr. Lund asking very important questions about the intention when communicating in the work place. The article touches on client relationship topics. However, these questions can be used for workplace communication as a general rule.
When you are communicating ask yourself: Are you communicating something that can be painful or cause emotions. This is important Companies have established workplace communication guidelines to prevent inappropriate work place conversation. The limitations remove our sense of diversity because they lead to such sensitive and emotional topics which appear to be offensive. In order to avoid communicating something that can be painful or emotional in the workplace remove emotion and replace this emotion with facts.
Another question to consider is the length of the topic. Many companies want to see productive employees. This means limiting small talk. This even extends to meetings we may have with a supervisor or manager. We have to make sure that what is discussed is relevant. You want to be taken seriously. You don’t want to be ignored because you ramble to a point your topic is no longer relevant.
Finally, when discussing a topic, ask yourself is this something that anyone needs to hear? When we go into a business meeting or even in our casual work conversation we always have to remember this is work. This is my potential long term career. The representation is important. If there is a topic that is not necessary or can be damaging it is best to refrain. The end goal in work place conversation is marketing yourself as an employee that can help the company grow.
Juanita Espino B.S. Comm., M.A.Ed.
Communications Consultant and Professional Advisor