The Behavioral Levels of Effective Communication

By Mariam Bouaoud

Effective Interactive Communication means clearly transmitting and receiving information, being attentive and communicating effectively and actively with others, taking into account their views in order to respond appropriately. There are many behavioral levels that should be respected so that the process of communication can be successful.

The first level is the responsive behavior. The main point in this level is paying attention to the message and the speaker. In other words, the addressee has to listen actively without interrupting the speaker, focus on what is being said in order to understand the gist of the message and respond appropriately by delivering information and facts in a logical, clear and consistent manner. This is the first guideline that must be respected to have effective communication.

The second level is the active behavior that insists on making sure that the addressee understood well the message. To do so the addresser may take steps to verify that the message is understood by the other party or to verify their own understanding. One of these steps is repeating the message. Actually, understanding can be demonstrated through non-verbal behavior, but it is necessary to use active behaviors to verify that the non-verbal cue has been interpreted correctly and to respond appropriately.

The third level is the proactive behavior. The speaker, here, should adapt the language used to the addressee’s level and background. Proactive communication behavior can be demonstrated at the time of communication or by preparing your communication approach before the interaction. Instead of communicating the message in the usual way, the same message is delivered using different words (more than rephrasing) and, when appropriate, changing the style and approach, to meet the needs and at the level of comprehension of the listener. However, the communication approach should reflect the level of sensitivity and complexity of the message.

The fourth level is the strategic behavior. This level is about communicating in a way that achieves maximum results which means establishing a communication strategy that would help in making the communication process successful. This cannot be done without understanding the needs, interests, issues and motivations of the audience, interpreting complex and sometimes contradictory or competitive signals or messages (verbal and non-verbal), and preparing in advance in order to respond appropriately to various questions or comments.

To conclude, communication is not just about uttering words. It is about the utterance, the message, the strategy, context, the addresser intention, and the addressee backgrounds as well. There are two important types of communication: formal and informal. Each one has specific rules, characteristics, and contexts.