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Communication Cycle

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Communication Cycle

  • Course: Dynamic Dialogues
  • Module: Interview
  • Lesson Type: Video
  • Lesson Duration: 4:29

Lesson Content

Christina: Can you discuss the Communication Cycle a little further?

Stacey: Absolutely. And it's a standard template. It's a good place to start but because you are talking to somebody who isn't working off of a script, you often have to take tangents. But it's good to know the basic formula which is first, the speaker identifies their aim and intention, meaning the outcome they want. Then they compose a message to communicate that intention. And this is done individually, this is conflict, not conflict, this is conscious reflection and it's up to the person who is initiating the dialogue to take responsibility to do that. And it doesn't take a lot of time. But again, it does take intention. Then the third step is when you are with the other person or persons, you deliver the message. Then the 4th and 5th steps are the receiver hearing and interpreting the message. And the 6th is their response. And if it is consciously conceived and intentionally designed then the cycle continues with each parties thoughtful intentions being effectively communicated.

However, more often than not, that response of the listener comes in the form of an instinctual, automatic, and unconscious reaction which is where miscommunication stems from. And this happens because we're human beings and in general we're not trained to pause for reflection when we receive new information – especially if that information is critical and could possibly trigger our insecurities, cynicism, and defense mechanisms. It's even harder for the receiver to master step 6 if the messenger skips step 1 and 2 and neglects to take the time to craft a message that is less likely to trigger them.

So an example of the communication cycle in action.

Let's say there's a situation where a manager wants to get an employee to stop dominating the conversation at staff meetings, taking the topic in a different direction then the agenda, and probably stepping over colleagues who might have a less immediate and dynamic style. So I don't know if you can relate to that. I've been on both ends of that issue.

So step 1, the intention is to get the employee to change his or her behavior in disrupting the team. But upon further reflection, the initiator of this conversation realizes that the ultimate goal is not to just suppress this person but to have them more effectively participate in the conversation.

Step 2: Compose a message that conveys the issue and engages the employee in the solution. This means that if I was the deliverer of the message I would find ways to offer positive feedback on their ideas, their engagement, and their enthusiasm, which is why they're so participatory yet establish that there might be some more effective ways to direct this energy.

Step 3 I deliver the message. So this includes identifying the best way, the best location, and the best context in which to have the conversation. In this situation, I personally would include this information in the context of a performance review or other scheduled meeting so it's seen more of a type of professional development conversation and not them being called to task for something they are doing wrong.

Then steps 4, 5 and 6 are in the employees' hands. I would allow space for that message to be received and integrated and be prepared to reframe the interpretation if it is received negatively. At which point we are back at Step 1 where I get to clarify and communicate my initial intention.

Christina: Great, great. Thank you. Thanks for running through that. It's really helpful to hear about a sample and we're certainly familiar with that scenario. I understand, definitely.

Stacey: And as I said, I've been both the one who had to give this feedback and the one who has received it. And if you believe the person giving the message does in fact have your best interest at heart and is just trying to clarify and help you take responsibility for your impact, something that might be a blind spot, it doesn't necessarily make it pleasant to hear that feedback but in the long run, you're so grateful that they would go out of their way and have a difficult conversation but it does have dynamic results.

Stacey Zackin


Stacey Zackin

If Stacey were a Super Hero, she'd be The Status Quo Buster. With 15+ years of experience in human behavior, management, and entertainment, Stacey merges psychology, strategy, and imagination to...

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