Communication cycle

The communication cycle happens when one person communicates with at least one other. This can be both verbal and non-verbal communication, but for the most part we will just look at verbal, between 2 people in this post. The communication cycle is something we discuss at length during the NLP practitioner course as it has such far reaching consequences.

When a person uses verbal language to interact with others, the communication cycle is initiated. This can be with one person or it can be in a group of people. We assume that the audience, single or multiple people, are actually listening to the speaker in what we would expect to happen in real communication. This communication cycle can and does also happen as a person communicates with themself, but that is for another time.

Communication cycle

How we take in information.

We take in information though our 5 sense, i.e. we see, hear, touch, feel and smell. In fact we get bombarded by over 11 million bits of information per second. We can’t consciously pay attention to all that input, so we delete, generalize and distort the external input as we run it though our internal filters. These are made up of time, space, matter, energy, our values, beliefs, attitudes, memories and meta-programs. We take in only about 134 bits of information out of that 11 million that we are presented with. These internal filters are different for each one of us, so we can appreciate that the 134 bits of information that each person could take, can be very different, even though they have the same experience. This is how you can have people that went to the same party, having the same experience, have 2 totally different reactions or comments about the party. One may have loved it where the other hated it. Or a bank robbery with 10 witnesses and they all have different stories.

Once we have deleted, generalized and distorted the information to take in our 134 bits of information, we then create an internal representation. These are made up of pictures, sounds, smell, feeling, tastes and the self-talk that we have going on inside our heads. You also talk to yourself right? (Not just me.)

That internal representation that we have inside our mind, is coupled with our state and our physiology. Meaning those 3 things combined, then determine our external behaviour. Try this as a little exercise. Bend over in your seat so you are laying with your shoulders over your knees. Exhale, imagine seeing yourself really tired, worn out and NAAFI. (Old military term, which means, not at all freaking interested.) Then say in soft, slightly sarcastic voice, “I feel amazing.”
What do you feel like? Do you really feel amazing? Probably not. You see, our internal representation, physiology and state have an impact on our external behaviour. Now shake it off. Shoulders back, deep breath, smile on your face imagining you have just won a competition and say out loud, “I feel amazing.” What’s the difference?

So what has this got to do with the communication cycle?

Back to our 2 people communicating. The person who is listening takes in the information from the speaker. They delete, generalize and distort the information as we discussed above. The internal representation, state and physiology of the listener will then have a massive impact on how they respond externally to the speaker. Now if they are in a situation like the boss telling them what to do, then they may not quite respond in the way they may want to, however let’s say that they have the freedom to respond as they wish and are not restricted by not being able to tell the boss to go suck eggs. The listener thus responds in whatever way they did, based on that internal representation, state and physiology.

Now the speaker is taking in the information from the listener as they respond to the original information, both verbal and non-verbal. Again, the cycle repeats and the speaker who is now the one listening, deletes, generalizes and distorts information as they take in their 134 bits of information after running through their filters. They have an external behaviour based on their own internal representation, state and physiology.

So now again the speaker has an external behaviour and the listener takes in their 134 bits of information and the communication cycle runs again.

As you can imagine, there are a number of variables that come into to play that can have a significant impact on the communication that is going on. We have only spoken about language and have not yet considered non-verbal communication, e.g. when men shift their legs to expand their stance. This could mean that they are taking a more dominant stance, feel threatened, etc.

Have you misread a email?

Have you ever read a text message or email and you thought the person who sent it was being nasty or rude; or you were upset by it? Yet the sender never had that intention and you read it based on whatever you were feeling at that moment. That is a prime example of how that might play out in real life to.

So there are 2 major factors that come into play when we think about the communication cycle; the internal response or process and the external response or behaviour.

This has many applications and considerations in our everyday life. Example a sales person who does not get the sale as they did not understand their client. A person who gets a upset about what their partner or spouse said or children who do not do what you ask them to do. Similarly, somebody makes a romantic approach as they thought the other person was giving them “signals,” however it was not what was intended. These types of scenarios play out every day. Another example is somebody who does succeed at what they tried to do and then starts a negative pattern running, which in turn builds on lack of self belief or poor self-image.

Our communication is our responsibility.

It is important to be very clear in our communication and to accept full responsibility for what others are perceiving. Only in doing that, can we then adjust our external communication and behaviour so that the true intended message comes across to the recipient. We cover this in more detail during the life coach training and look at ways in how we can actually also change the internal representation, state and physiology so as to change our external behaviours.

To find out more, simply contact us and we will be happy to explain how this simple yet powerful communication cycle can have a massive impact on your life.

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  1. […] It is important to understand there is not necessarily any right or wrong in body language. There are also non-verbals that have different meanings in different cultures. However we will only look at universals for the purpose of the article. The idea is to give you control over your own non-verbal communication. Empowering you to use your body language purposefully and to communicate effectively. […]

  2. […] may remember, we said in the communication cycle article, that every experience we have is purely subjective. We get bombarded by around 11 million […]

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