This course assumes that we all have two goals when we communicate:

1) Be clear

Communicating clearly is much more difficult and involved than it may seem initially. Yes, you want to be clear so that you arrive at meetings at the appropriate time and place, and so that you receive the items you ordered, etc. But clear communication goes much deeper–you also want to communicate, through your tone of voice and facial expressions, for example, that you are very uncomfortable with your friend, Bob, talking to your friend, Gail, about your financial situation. You want him to stop immediately, but you also want him to know that you’re not angry with him—a tough set of messages to transmit clearly.

2) Make a good impression

Whenever you send any message, you have some degree of concern about what the receiver or receivers think of you. “Good” is defined broadly here. You may want them to conclude that you’re intelligent, friendly, powerful, etc. People will always draw conclusions like this. If you don’t steer their impressions in the direction you want, their impressions are bound to go in a direction you don’t want. This applies to a potential boss, your spouse, and really to anyone who is significant to you.

Five Basic Questions – As you construct any important message, ask yourself these questions:

1) What do I know about my audience, and how can I use this knowledge to communicate more effectively?
How can I make this relevant to my audience?
How can I show my audience the respect necessary to keep the lines of communication open?

2) What is my goal?
What do I want them to do or understand?
What do I want them to think of me?

3) What points should I make to achieve my goal?
How can I make those points as simple and clear as possible?

4) How can I support those points with examples or evidence?
Will those who are skeptical of my points be convinced by my examples and evidence?

5) How should I send his message—should it be written, delivered via phone, etc.?
Is this complicated information that should be written?
Is this sensitive information that should be delivered face-to-face?