The 3 Cs of Communication

Communication builds the foundation for all progress, whether it be personal or professional. The ability to express your ideas in a way that is both authentic to you and resonates with your audience is a vital skill. It can always be developed.

 To enhance your communication effectiveness, ensure that your message has three core elements: make it conscious, clear, and compelling.


Think before you speak. Make sure you know what you want to convey, and then decide how you want to convey it. Take the time to identify the following:

  • The purpose of your communication (i.e., what you want your listener to do as a result of your message)
  • The main point and supporting evidence
  • If you have the necessary credibility to deliver the message – will the listener listen to YOU?


Build your message around your purpose and eliminate any background noise that would detract from it. Focus your efforts on eliminating the following bad habits from your day-to-day conversations:

  • Words and phrases such as “like” and “you know” create unnecessary noise and make it harder for the listener to stay focused and decipher your message.
  • Words and phrases such as “kinda,” “sort of,” “just a little,” and “try” are often used as pillows to soften our message. The problem is they tend to muffle our meaning instead.
  • But… what did you say? Anytime you add the word “but” in a message, you’ve negated all that has come before.


Much of our communication is focused on our interests. It is equally important to consider the goals of your audience. If you want to be heard, do the following instead:

  • Position your message stating both the what and the why. Example: “I’d like to discuss what happened with the XYZ report (what) so that we both have all the facts and aren’t jumping to conclusions (why).”
  • Tune into the listener’s radio station of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), because that is the channel they are filtering your message through. Adapt your language to address what the listener needs and wants to hear, not on what you want to tell them.

From:  “I want to show you the right way to fill out the report summary, so I don’t have to keep going back and fixing your mistakes.”

To:  “I’d like to show you an easier way to fill out the summary report sheet that will help save you time and reduce potential errors.”

Communication, as a vital component of all tasks and relationships, is nuanced, flexible, and ever-evolving. When you invest the time into tailoring your messages to be conscious, clear, and compelling, you will boost efficiency and precision. Additionally, effective communication helps build trust and respect in your relationships, which can translate into immeasurable gains. Think about where you can apply the 3 Cs today and improve your communication.

Melissa Christenson, president of Creative Training Resources (CTR), has over 30 years of experience designing and delivering communication and management training. CTR’s Giving and Receiving Quality Feedback is available in virtual and in-person formats.

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