EP: 13 – Are Your Students Hearing Your Message?

“When we’re talking or writing about something that’s 
important to us or we have a really strong feeling about we’re
likely to stick with the language of our preferred channel.”
– Cindy Hunt (03.51-04.04)

As most of us have experienced, there are times when we hear or read something that’s easy for us to grasp or act on; and in other cases, it takes a lot more effort. Science shows that people have 6 distinct types of communication styles - we call them communication channels.   While everyone has the ability to use all 6 channels, we each have a preferred channel.  When you communicate to someone using the language and behavior of their preferred channel, it is more likely that your intended message will be received.

Part One of ‘Are Your Students Hearing Your Message?’

In our work with educators, we’ve seen the impact when they adapt their communication to engage and inspire students to learn. Recently we received content that a high school teacher had written for his students focused on building effective financial habits early in life. He believed strongly in the importance of this lesson so asked us to review it to see the proportion of his students who were likely to act on his guidance and how to adapt his content to reach the rest.

In this week's episode, you will learn:

  • Why some students have a harder time hearing you
  • Simple tweaks you can make so your content connects with more students
  • The role of graphics and activities to engage a broader group of students


“Just like your preferred communication channel is the 
easiest to use in verbal communication, the same is
true in writing.” - Pam Baker (03:33-03:46)

It’s easy for content focused on financial habits to be delivered primarily through two of the channels that filter through logic and values. The challenge for us was to ensure that since not all students prefer those channels, the language used was easily heard by all students, regardless of the channels they prefer.

What we found in reviewing his lesson was that all six channels were represented in the content, which was great to see. We did see that his preferred channels were over-represented and his less preferred channels were under-represented, which is very common before being trained in Adaptive Communication.

Part Two of ‘Are Your Students Hearing Your Message?’

Knowing yourself and your preferred channels is the easiest way to accommodate all students because you learn not to use only the language of your preferred channel but to vary it with the language of other channels.

When we’re talking or writing about something that’s important to us – as this topic was to this high school teacher -  we’re likely to use the language of just our one or two preferred channels. That’s why in educational materials we often find less variety in the channel language used: because the topic is typically one the author feels strongly about.

To make the content easier to act on for those who prefer one of the under-represented channels, we recommended including language of reactions. Phrasing like: “What do you love? What do you hate? What’s black and white?” work well for those of us who prefer this channel.

“One thing we recommend is teachers can put out 
a variety of questions and let the students pick which one
they like to answer. That way they’re self-selecting the one
that hits the mark for them.” - Cindy Hunt (07:23-07:34)

Even when it comes to financial habits, there are a number of different ways to ask about the same topic but doing so using the language of different channels. For example, you might ask,

  • “What do you think about spending your money that way?” or 
  • “How do you feel about spending your money that way?” or
  • “What do you love about spending your money that way?” or
  • “Bottom line, are you going to make money and how are you going to make it?”

Each of those questions will be in the language of a different preferred channel, and by varying the language used, you make it easier for any student to respond.

What's the danger of only using language that’s in your own preferred channel? We know from data that students who prefer three of the channels – the same channels that are less likely to be the preference of educators - tend to not do as well through K-12 because they end up tuning the teachers out. And that can lead to gaps in their education.

That's why it's important to vary the language used to engage everyone because if students aren’t engaged, there’s a good chance they’ll be pushed into distress.

Some of those distress behaviors get those students in trouble. They might be disruptive in class. They might daydream and be frustrating for the teacher or team. They might make fun of something or someone and that’s frustrating for everyone. Some simple adjustments to how you’re delivering your message – varying the language of the questions, adding an activity and including some graphics can make the difference in engaging a far greater proportion of students. 

Next Steps: 

Are you tired of being misunderstood or not heard? If so, we have a FREE guide for you.

What you'll discover in this guide:

  • How to Charge Your Batteries (it’s not just for phones)
  • Discerning Someone’s Preferred Language (no foreign language training required)
  • Listening for Their Perception (yep – we each have our own)
  • Battery Charging Others (after all, teamwork makes the dream work)
  • Get Your Message Across to a Group (all communication “channels” matter)

Grab your FREE guide now.

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