Scott H Young

When Your Communication Fails, Check Your Layers


Whether you are giving a speech, asking for a sale or going on a date, each person has different aims for their communication. Unfortunately your message can easily fail if you aren’t using all the layers of communication appropriately. Your message isn’t just perceived in one way, but through multiple channels each with a different response.

Here are some of the major layers involved in most communication:

  • Subconscious – This is the layer hidden from the awareness of the recipient. This often changes the feedback you are given. Being attractive often influences this layer, resulting in more favorable impressions even if the other person doesn’t realize their bias.
  • Emotional - This is how the communication made the person feel. Bouncing off there own beliefs and associations, if you inspire anger or love from your communication you will get a much different result.
  • Rational - This is what your communication made the person think. Although most people would like to believe that this is the most important element in your communication, it is often only a small percentage of what actually contributes towards a result.

Where is Your Message Not Being Delivered?

When you aren’t getting the results you want from how you are communicating, chances are you aren’t communicating effectively on some of the layers. People might understand your idea but not feel compelled to act. Or they might empathize with your cause but on a more subconscious level they are driven away.

Feedback often fails because it isn’t an accurate picture of all layers of communication. Even if the person is trying to give honest feedback, many of the layers aren’t known to the person who experienced them. Few people will admit, or even be aware, how things like appearance, voice or status influence their final perceptions.

Look at All Your Layers

Take a look at all the layers that are going into your communication. Do they line up? Are you focusing on making a person think something when it would be far more useful to have them feel instead? Realize that delivery is inseparable from message and that your message is being conveyed in more than just what you say.

Here are a few things to watch in your communication:

  1. Appearance – You don’t have to be a model to communicate effectively, but your appearance does have a strong influence on your results. This can be in the form of your website design or the clothes you pick. How you or your product looks sends a lot of messages. Are they the ones you want?
  2. Tone – This hits hard on the emotional layer. I’ve written a few articles where I felt the information was solid but the tone was too serious or gloomy to get the results I wanted. There are a million different tones you can use for any message. Are you making the person feel what they need to feel to get the result you want?
  3. Flow – How does your communication fit together? Are you flowing smoothly between different tones, appearances and content or does it switch back and forth continually? Without flow your communication becomes imprecise and random.

Communication is the key to life. Communication with yourself, communication with others and communication with the world. Look more closely at all the layers of your communication. Are they in sync or do they clash?


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3 Responses to “When Your Communication Fails, Check Your Layers”

  1. Steven Furie says:

    I really like how you broke it down into layers and presented it a ‘natural’ order of recognition. As everyone has tendencies in how they communicate that have been conditioned from the different responses/results throughout our lives.

    One key here to walk away with, is to not to be afraid to look at each layer and try different approaches and learn from the results. Communication is a skill, so don’t be afraid to try something different in how you may ‘appear’, generate ‘tone’ and ‘flow’ when you communicate.

    Thank you for posting!!

  2. Scott Young says:

    Thanks Steven,

    Experimentation is crucial to communication. When you aren’t getting the results you want, change them up!

  3. […] dug up this old blog post by Scott Young – who does a nice job describing the different levels at which you need to reach an audience in […]

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