Communication is fundamental to human relationships. Interaction, of all types, attempt several possible outcomes:
- To inform and give instructions
- To influence and persuade
- To convey emotion and perception
- Ask questions in hopes of obtaining information
- Express wants and needs
- Develop relationships and socialize
- Social etiquette
- To reassure or comfort
- Share ideas and opinions
Influence concerning how our parent figures raised us, our culture, our experiences, and our personality affects our communication style and the way we come off to others.
Consequently, being intentional with how we communicate can improve all relationships, including personal and professional. The way to be intentional with how we communicate is to work toward a specific set of communication goals.
What are Communication Goals?
Communication goals are specific aims to communicate information and emotion by more effective means.
Communication goals are broad in concept, so they need to be specific within the context of the particular types of communication (verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual) as well as the relevant categories in life (personal, parental, romantic, friendship, and professional).
Types of Communication
The connotation surrounding the word “communication” typically conjures an image of communicating through speaking. But there are several types of communication, including verbal, non-verbal, written, and visual.
Speaking and oral communication is considered verbal communication utilized through language and words. There are four types of verbal communication (intrapersonal, interpersonal, small group, and public) which include:
- Presentations (small group)
- Speeches (public)
- Announcements (public)
- Conversation (interpersonal and small group)
- Discussions (interpersonal and small group)
- Official statements (public)
- Singing (all types)
- Talking to one’s self (intrapersonal)
The tone of the verbal communication depends on the relationship between the speaker and the audience. For example, an official statement from a politician is going to differ in tone from a parent saying goodnight to their child.
Written communication is communicating via written correspondence utilizing the written word in some of the following ways:
- Instant messaging
- Text messaging
Based on the relationship between the writer and the reader, the tone of the written communication may change. For example, a letter from a husband overseas mailed to his wife may convey emotional (and sentimental) connection; whereas, an internal office memo may transmit professional communication to employees.
Non-verbal communication is cues received from facial expression and body language. Non-verbal communication can be tricky because we all hold a preconceived connotation of what particular facial expressions and body language represent.
For example, one person might hold the perception that lazy people slouch, and another person may hold the opinion that slouching represents exhaustion.
However, although there can be cultural differences in how one perceives nonverbal communication, there are several universal non-communication cues studied by Charles Darwin:
Nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal and written communication, if not more so. Nonverbal communication can reveal the truth behind any contradictory statement.
For example, your romantic partner could verbally communicate that he/she is excited for your extended opportunity in another country while the nonverbal communication of teary eyes tells a more profound truth about what your partner may be feeling.
Although nonverbal communication could be categorized as a type of visual communication because we are “seeing” the communication through body language and facial expressions, there are several additional types of visual communication that are specific to the created medium:
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design
- Electronic Resources
The Anatomy of Communication
Along with the platform type of how your communication is delivered, what is the anatomy of effective communication? In other words, what makes for effective communication?
Seven main elements make up the anatomy of effective communication, and they are called the seven C’s of communication.
Clear communication means your intended message should be unambiguous. Ambiguous statements can confuse the other party plus tamper with the connotation of the words. For example:
Vague statement: Mark saw a man on a hill with a telescope.
Examination: Did Mark use a telescope to see a man on the hill? Or was the man on the hill looking at Mark with a telescope? Or did Mark see a man on a hill that also has a telescope on it?
A clear message: By looking through his telescope, Mark saw a man sitting on a hill.
Concise communication means being precise and straight to the point without any filler or fluff. Being concise means avoiding long, redundant, and winding sentences and using the least amount of words possible to communicate your message. For example:
Redundant statement: Let me briefly summarize the next period of four days before you all get your free gift.
Concise message: I’ll summarize the next four days, then hand out gifts.
Concrete communication includes specific facts and figures so that there is no room for misinterpretation. For example:
Non-specific statement: Make sure you get that report in this evening.
Concrete statement: The 2019 Financial Statement Report needs to be on my desk by 5 pm.
Correct communication means you need to use the right, or proper and fitting language in your message as well as well timed. Communicating correctly builds credibility. For example:
Incorrect statement: I believe 1+1=2.
Correct message: It’s a fact that 1+1=2.
Consideration communication is the act of considering the speaker’s beliefs, knowledge, background, and mindset. To communicate effectively, you must consider these things and relate in some way to the target recipient of your message.
For example, if employee Mark says to his coworker Steve, “I’m having a hard time finishing this report,” and Steve replies, “Well, you need to work harder,” Steve most likely isn’t communicating considerately.
If Steve took into consideration that Mark has a newborn baby at home, a sick wife, and a recently passed father, he might respond considerately, “I don’t blame you, Mark. You have a lot going on right now. Let me know how I can help.”
Complete communication provides all the relevant information to the intended party. The relevant information will give the recipient answers to any pertinent questions which will allow them to make a well-informed decision.
For example, a doctor who communicates thoroughly will provide a sick patient with all treatment options so the patient can make an informed decision on how to proceed. If the doctor only provided one treatment option, the patient would not have a perceived choice in the matter.
Courteous communication includes positive and unbiased messages, as well as terms appropriate for the recipient. For example:
Discourteous message: Unlike most people, I am never wrong.
Courteous message: Everyone messes up at some point, especially me!
Why you Should Set Communication Goals
We know there are different types of communication, as detailed above (verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual), that serve as a platform in delivering that type of communication from person to person. But without strong communication development, these communication platforms become ineffective.
You need communication goals.
Establishing communication goals, and working toward those goals, develops communication strengths and skills. Merely wanting to communicate more effectively certainly won’t get you anywhere without setting an end goal and actively working toward that goal.
Keeping the seven C’s of communication in mind, goals can be structured using the proven S.M.A.R.T. method.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Vague or ambiguous goals have no direction. As previously stated, only wanting to communicate more effectively won’t naturally drive you in that direction alone. Action and specificity are required to reach goals.
Following a detailed goal plan or map (and continuously checking in on progress) has been scientifically proven to lead to success. Alternatively, those who don’t follow a specific, well-thought-out plan have proven to be the least likely to succeed in reaching their goals.
A S.M.A.R.T goal is more than just a catchy acronym. It’s a method of explicitly planning and mapping out your goals, which is why it is one of the most effective goal setting methods. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.
For example, Sam is exhausted by the lack of communication between his team members regarding completed and uncompleted communal tasks. Sam wants to increase effective communication with his employees to avoid duplicate work.
Sam might utilize the S.M.A.R.T. method accordingly:
Specific: send the team a weekly report via email detailing the completed tasks and upcoming tasks, as well as assignments for the employee’s future jobs.
Measurable: run report which will detail any duplicated tasks completed. Each week should show a decline in duplicate tasks completed.
Attainable: require an email response from employees to confirm the information was received, as well as prove they have accepted their tasks assignments.
Realistic: all team members have access to email and the task report.
Time-based: implement immediately and execute effective Monday.
You’ve most likely heard the sentiment, “children are like sponges.” Based on the historical truth that children observe their surroundings, they take on the influence of their parents.
The good news is if a child’s parent(s) are effective in their communication with their child, that child, in turn, will most likely be an effective communicator as they mature.
In addition to raising effective communicators, healthy communication between parent(s) and children results in boundless positive enforcement. Here are a few examples:
- Increased child’s self-esteem
- Instilled respect for themselves and others
- Builds trust
- Children listen to parents
- Higher feelings of security and safety
How to Set Parent/Child Communication Goals
Although it’s best to start healthy communication habits when your child is young, it’s never too late to establish parent/child communication goals. Here are some examples of types of parent/child goals:
- Send positive (instead of negative) messages
- Use age-appropriate language
- Build stronger eye contact habits
- Give undivided attention when communicating verbally
- Decrease the number of times I interrupt my child
- Respond to my child’s statements to show I heard them
- Decrease lectures and speeches
- Schedule fun weekly family meetings
- Use more “I” messages
- Be more flexible when solving problems with my child
- Work on one issue at a time, so my child and I don’t get overwhelmed.
After deciding which type of goal to pursue, create a map using the S.M.A.R.T. method and note the applicable C’s of communication.
When creating your S.M.A.R.T. goal map, take into consideration that by setting parent/child communication goals you will need more than just a task list. Children can tell when you are just going through the motions, which can negatively affect the balance in the communication between parent and child.
Romantic Partner Communication
Romantic relationships are a large part of our lives, and one that needs constant communication and fine tuning. As human connection is deeply rooted in emotion, as previously stated, so are romantic relationships. It’s no wonder that communication is so important in romantic relationships.
Strengthening your communication skills in your romantic relationships will, in turn, enhance the relationship as a whole.
How to Set Romantic Partner Communication Goals
A few examples of romantic communication goals could be:
- Listen to my partner so I can understand their communication before responding with my own
- Find the right time to communicate, instead of blurting out what I want to say whenever I immediately want to say it.
- With serious communications, communicate face to face by removing the option to text or email feelings or thoughts.
- Communicate more via text or email throughout the day so we can stay connected.
- Send physical letters and emails consistently when my partner is out of town.
- Work on my aggressive communication style.
- Decrease defensiveness by changing attack language.
- Be honest rather than communicating what I think my partner wants to hear.
- Remember that body language is communication and to actively and physically turn toward my partner instead of away from them, which communicates distance.
- When I’m angry, be determined to wait a day or two before communicating my anger so that I’m calmer and able to listen more openly.
- With each serious communication session, stop to think, listen, then speak.
With romantic relationships, it’s certainly important to focus on the seven C’s of communication because the personality of your partner will mostly depend on their nature and how they become more reception through individual communication styles.
Furthermore, just as important as communicating to your partner in a way that unites the relationship is talking to your partner the way you prefer to be addressed, spoken to, and the like
Much like romantic relationships, friendships are rooted in emotion and a prevalent presence in our lives. Although, unlike romantic relationships which need constant communication, friendship communication can ebb and flow.
Each friendship will have an individual communication style. To respect the friendship relationship, it’s important to be aware of the type of communication style for each friendship you have.
For example, one friend may prefer to communicate via text and rarely meet face to face always. Whereas, another friend may not be interested in a digital communication friendship and meet face to face constantly to catch up with each other.
As you learn to respect the communication type of your friendships, it’s equally important to communicate your preferred method of communication with each friend, so the relationship is meeting your needs too.
How to Set Friendship Communication Goals
Here are some examples of friendship goals you could implement:
- Note in a planner to connect with friends
- When life gets too busy to meet friends face to face monthly, continue communication via email, text, or Skype.
- Plan more fun experiences together, instead of constant rant fests.
- Increase the amount I ask them how they are doing.
- Take away one element of their life they communicate to me and ask them about it the next time we meet.
- Listen to friends when they say they are busy and decrease the pressure to meet face to face.
- Actively improve eye contact, so my friend knows I am engaged, which will help me listen to them more effectively.
If you choose to implement the first goal on the list (note in planner to connect with friends), your S.M.A.R.T. goal may look like:
Specific: Note in planner every month to reach out to friends.
Measurable: can observe if catching up more often, and consistently, will improve the depth of our relationship instead of getting caught up on the surface conversations.
Attainable: I can check in with my friends each month, even if they don’t reach out first.
Realistic: my schedule realistically could include friend activities each month, if not more.
Time-based: Note in my planner a month after I’ve reached out to each friend.
Value your friendships by maintaining them through communication and contact. Likewise, be aware that your friends value you enough as a friend to communicate with you as well. You can effectively communicate with your friends, but if they do not reciprocate communication, they are not respecting your friendship.
Professional communication includes the types of communication (verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual) conducted within a professional arena, as well as out of the professional field when considering outbound emails.
Secure professional communication provides the recipient with correct data accurately and understandably, along with using the seven C’s of communication.
In order to professionally communicate accurately and understandably, improving your writing (memos, emails, reports), visual (presentation graphics, social media), verbal (presentations, meetings), and nonverbal (confidence, eye contact) communication skills becomes relevant.
How to Set Professional Communication Goals
Some examples of professional communication goals are:
- Be more relatable by being a courteous communicator
- Diversify communication delivery
- Broaden the scope for employees so they can see the bigger picture (communicate the story of the business so they can feel a part of it)
- Share my purpose along with sharing the meaning of each required task
- Remain present when a coworker or subordinate is sharing
- Prioritize messages, to address the most important communications first
- Use more storytelling in my presentations to communicate in a more relatable manner
- Invest in employees by listening to their ideas and expressing my thoughts on those ideas
- Create interest in the daily grind by delivering incentives
Develop your goal map with the S.M.A.R.T. method and the seven C’s of communication in mind. Using the last professional communication goal on the list (create interest in the daily grind by communicating incentive), the S.M.A.R.T. goal map may look like:
Specific: send weekly task report via email along with a weekly incentive for the highest producer.
Measurable: track the increase of productivity by comparing each weekly report, and communicating the positive results to the team weekly to get them revved up.
Attainable: Examine employee behavior (increased interest in work tasks) to confirm incentive will produce positive results.
Realistic: ensure all team members have the capability and confidence to produce high numbers by communicating with them individually.
Time-based: spend the next week planning incentive ideas, and how they will be rated, communicate the incentives to my team via meeting on Monday. Each Friday, hand out incentive rewards.
Throughout developing your professional communication skills, gather feedback from your co-workers and subordinates. Although we may be proud of a particular presentation or memo, it may not communicate professionally or accurately.
Yes, communication with ourselves is just as important as parental, personal, and professional communication. By refining our self-communication, we become more aware of ourselves and how we might impact others.
For example, communicating in a way we think is helpful toward someone might actually come off as being controlling to the other party. By observing our behaviors and talking with ourselves about those behaviors, we can become more aware and positive of how we influence or come off to others.
Additionally, self-communication will strengthen our confidence, our awareness of others’ communication styles, and become an overall happier person.
How to Set Self Communication Goals
Setting self-communication goals must begin by observing how we currently self communicate. By being fully informed of how we communicate with ourselves, we can then begin to improve certain aspects of our prove. Here are a few examples of self-communication goals:
- Examine internal dialogue and promote the positive dialogue
- Integrate mindfulness every day to continue to stay aware of my self-communication
- Utilize a journal for present self-communication, but also reference when studying my self-communication
- When communicating with others, pay more attention to their response cues to further improve the way I interact with others.
Meditation, journaling, gratitude, and self-observance strengthens self-communication. Using these means, create a goal map using the S.M.A.R.T. method and the seven C’s of communication. Utilizing the first self-communication goal (examine internal dialogue and improve positive critical), your goal map might look like:
Specific: write in a journal at the end of each day, zoning in specifically on self talk.
Measurable: at the end of each week, read back through the journal to determine if the negative self-talk is consistently decreasing.
Attainable: creating a habit of writing in my journal at night, in bed, and before sleep will create a consistent document that holds self-communication.
Realistic: journaling only takes a few minutes each day.
Time-based: I will begin journaling immediately tonight, and review journal notes each Sunday.
It’s essential to take the seven C’s of communication into account as you set and implement your S.M.A.R.T. communication goals. By only utilizing the S.M.A.R.T. method of setting communication goals without executing the values of the seven C’s, most likely you are just going through the emotions of each step checking off each step in a detached manner.
However, because human communication is deeply rooted in emotion, checking off steps in a detached manner will not accomplish any strengthening of communication skills. It’s imperative that you marry your S.M.A.R.T. goal map with the seven C’s of communication for a fully transformative goal. In other words, your goal map will guide you toward your goal, whereas the seven C’s will make those goals effective.
Establishing communication goals isn’t only a process to get us to the end point, more efficient communication, but also instills skills that we will positively utilize in multiple areas of our lives. Furthermore, although transformation occurs by reaching specific communication goals, as humans, there will always be room for growth in communication behavior.
Using the skills that have strengthened our communication with others in all areas will also transform us to more empathetic, effective, understanding, as well as a better listener, partner, parent, employee, and overall human.
What are your communication goals?