Interpersonal communication is the foundation of human interaction. Its importance for innovation and change can hardly be overemphasized. In this section, communication from different viewpoints including listening and speaking is ex.

Communication is a two-way process of giving and receiving information through any number of channels. Whether one is speaking informally to a colleague, addressing a conference or meeting, writing a newsletter article or formal report, the following basic
principles apply:

  • Know your audience.
  • Know your purpose.
  • Know your topic.
  • Anticipate objections.
  • Present a rounded picture.
  • Achieve credibility with your audience.
  • Follow through on what you say.
  • Communicate a little at a time.
  • Present information in several ways.
  • Develop a practical, useful way to get feedback.
  • Use multiple communication techniques.

Communication is complex. When listening to or reading someone else’s message, we often filter what’s being said through a screen of our own opinions. One of the major barriers to communication are our own ideas and opinions. There’s an old communications game, telegraph, that’s played in a circle. A message is whispered around from person to person. What the exercise usually proves is how
profoundly the message changes as it passes through the distortion of each person’s inner “filter.”

Environmental factors
Communication can be influenced by environmental factors that have nothing to do with the content of the message. Some of these factors are:

  • the nature of the room, how warm it is, smoke, comfort of the chair, etc
  • outside distractions, what is going on in the area.
  • the reputation/credibility of the speaker/writer.
  • the appearance, style or authority of the speaker.
  • listener’s education, knowledge of the topic, etc.
  • the language, page layout, design of the message.

People remember:

  • of what they read
  • of what they hear
  • of what they see
  • of what they hear and see

Communication with Decision Makers
Innovation and change often depends upon persuading potential users of the benefits of an innovation. To deal persuasively with decision makers, it is necessary to know and understand their interests and opinions. The following questions are helpful in organizing technology transfer efforts:

  • Who are the key people to persuade?
  • Who will make the decisions about innovation and change?
  • What are these decision makers’ past experiences with innovation and change?
  • What are the decision makers’ current attitudes toward innovation and change?

Are they neutral, friendly, hostile or apathetic?

  • What is the most appropriate way to approach the decision maker?
  • What are the work styles of the decision makers? Are they highly formal people who want everything in writing and all appointments scheduled in advance? Or are they more flexible, responding favorably to personal telephone calls and informal meetings?
  • What networks or groups is the decision maker a part of?
  • What programs or services will the new innovation improve?
  • What programs or services will the new innovation cause problems with?
  • How will the innovation or change benefit the decision maker?
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