As you “talk with yourself,” you are engaged in intrapersonal communication, or communication that involves one person. A 1994 book by Donna Vocate on intrapersonal communication explains how, as we use language to reflect on our own experiences, we talk ourselves through situations.
EXAMPLEIntrapersonal communication can be the voice within you that tells you, "Keep on going! I can do it!" when you are putting your all into completing a five-mile race, or that says, "This report I’ve written is pretty good."
Your intrapersonal communication can be positive or negative, and directly influences how you perceive and react to situations and communication with others.
Whether you are talking to yourself or others, you bring your own personal experiences to the conversation. What you perceive in communication is influenced by your culture, native language, and your worldview. Improving your self and social awareness skill can help you craft the right message for the right audience at the right time.
You may have certain expectations of time and punctuality. You weren’t born with them, so where did you learn them? From those around you as you grew up. What was normal for them became normal for you, but not everyone’s idea of normal is the same.
When your supervisor invites you to a meeting and says it will start at 3 p.m., does that mean 3:00 sharp, 3-ish, or even 3:30? In the business context, when a meeting is supposed to start at 9 a.m., is it promptly at 9 a.m.? Variations in time expectations depend on regional and national culture as well as individual corporate cultures. In some companies, everyone may be expected to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the announced start time to take their seats and be ready to commence business at 9:00 sharp.
In other companies, "meeting and greeting" from about 9 to 9:05 or even 9:10 is the norm. When you are unfamiliar with the expectations for a business event, it is always wise to err on the side of being punctual, regardless of what your internal assumptions about time and punctuality may be.
The second major context within the field of communication is interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication normally involves two people, and can range from intimate and very personal to formal and impersonal.
EXAMPLEYou may carry on a conversation with a loved one, sharing a serious concern. Later, at work, you may have a brief conversation about plans for the weekend with the security guard on your way home.
What’s the difference? Both scenarios involve interpersonal communication, but are different in levels of intimacy. The first example implies a trusting relationship established over time between two caring individuals.
The second example implies some previous familiarity, and is really more about acknowledging each other than any actual exchange of information, much like saying hello or goodbye.
Group communication is an interaction or conversation between a small number of people. This type of communication generally involves three to eight people. The larger the group, the more likely it is to break down into smaller groups.
Understanding the importance of group communication in business settings is essential to connecting with your audience.
To take a page from marketing, does your audience have segments or any points of convergence/divergence? You could consider factors like age, education, sex, and location to learn more about groups and their general preferences as well as dislikes.
You may find several groups within the larger audience, such as specific areas of education, and use this knowledge to increase your effectiveness as a business communicator.
In public communication, one person speaks to a group of people; the same is true of public written communication, where one person writes a message to be read by a small or large group.
The speaker or writer may ask questions, and engage the audience in a discussion (in writing, examples are an email discussion or a point-counter-point series of letters to the editor), but the dynamics of the conversation are distinct from group communication, where different rules apply.
In a public speaking situation, the group normally defers to the speaker.
EXAMPLEThe boss speaks to everyone, and the sales team quietly listens without interruption.
This generalization is changing as norms and expectations change, and many cultures have a tradition of "call outs" or interjections that are not to be interpreted as interruptions or competition for the floor, but instead as affirmations.
EXAMPLEThe boss may say, as part of a charged-up motivational speech, "Do you hear me?" and the sales team is expected to call back "Yes, sir!" The boss, as a public speaker, recognizes that intrapersonal communication (thoughts of the individual members) or interpersonal communication (communication between team members) may interfere with this classic public speaking dynamic of all to one, or the audience devoting all its attention to the speaker, and incorporate attention-getting and engagement strategies to keep the sales team focused on the message.
To send a message to as many people as you can, you would use mass communication.
Does everyone receive mass communication the same way they might receive a personal phone call? Not likely.
EXAMPLESome people who receive mass mailings assume that they are "junk mail" (i.e., that they do not meet the recipients’ needs) and throw them away unopened. People may tune out a television advertisement with a click of the mute button, delete tweets or ignore friend requests on Facebook by the hundreds, or send all unsolicited email straight to the spam folder unread.
Mass media is a powerful force in modern society and our daily lives, and is adapting rapidly to new technologies. Mass communication involves sending a single message to a group. While it allows for a message to be communicated to a large number of people, it also limits the ability to tailor that message to specific audiences, groups, or individuals.
Still, there are techniques you can use to connect with your audience.
EXAMPLEAs a business communicator, you can use multimedia as a visual aid or reference common programs, films, or other images that your audience finds familiar yet engaging. You can tweet a picture that is worth far more than 140 characters, and you are just as likely to elicit a significant response.
By choosing messages or references that many audience members will recognize or can identify with, you can develop common ground and increase the appeal of your message.
Source: This content has been adapted from Lumen Learning's "Communication in Context" tutorial.