BUS210 Study Guide

Unit 3: Understanding Your Audience

3a. Recognize the factors that contribute to self-concept

  • What are attitudes, beliefs, and values?
  • What role do self-image and self-esteem play in our self-concept?
  • How does our looking-glass self affect our self-concept?

Our sense of self comes from an awareness of our own perspective of ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world. The emphasis we place on certain elements of our message and our focus on that message affects our interaction with others. Our attitudes, beliefs, and values contribute to our sense of "self", which can change as we evolve and grow as individuals.

Our self-concept is comprised of our self-esteem and self-image. The combination of these two factors defines our identities and what we can accomplish in life. Self-esteem is our self-worth and self-respect, while our self-image is how we describe ourselves to others, including our physical characteristics.

Our looking-glass self also focuses on reinforcing how we look to others and how they view us. We place additional emphasis on those who have some measure of control over us, such as family members or supervisors. We value their feedback since it helps us improve and better understand our own capabilities. Understanding our perspective and self enables us to communicate in both oral and written formats effectively. It ensures that we are paying attention to the information we absorb and share with others.

To review in greater detail, read Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication.


3b. Predict the effect of self-fulfilling prophecies on a given decision-making scenario

  • What is the process of a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Can you think of a situation where you created a self-fulfilling prophecy?

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction we make that can affect the outcome of a situation. We make certain assumptions in a situation and behave in a way that fulfills our expectations. We can directly or indirectly affect the outcome, which can have both positive and negative results.

A self-fulfilling prophecy can hinder the ways we view others and affect our own decision-making process. By matching and mirroring others' expectations, we form images of others and ourselves, we communicate based on certain cues, and we adjust behavior to match these expectations. None of the elements may be true or accurate, and they can have a detrimental effect on how we view ourselves and others.

To review, read Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication.


3c. Explain the nature and influence of selective perception

  • What is the role of the "stage" in oral and written communication?
  • How can understanding internal and external stimuli help to improve communication?
  • How would you describe the three main parts of selection (selective exposure, selective attention, and selective retention)?

Each day, we are exposed to an overwhelming amount of stimuli from various sources. Internal stimuli come from within, while external stimuli are outside ourselves. We should keep this in mind as we prepare our presentations to meet the needs of our audiences.

To break through the clutter and give our attention to certain factors while ignoring others, we participate in a process called selection. The three main aspects of selection are exposure, attention, and retention.

Selective exposure includes information to which we choose to pay attention, information that we ignore, and information that is not available. During selective attention, we focus on one stimulus and tune out all others. When we practice selective retention, we are choosing which stimulus we will remember.

For a more in-depth look at the selection process, read Perception.


3d. Identify the Gestalt principles of organization

  • What is the purpose of organization schemes?
  • Explain how the Gestalt principles of organization explain that the whole is greater than the parts.
  • Create a written or oral example that follows the Gestalt principles of organization.

Since we are exposed to so much information, we need to have a process of ordering the data to absorb and comprehend the information. Organization enables us to sort information into categories. When we integrate an organizational process into a presentation, we make it easier for our audiences to follow along and grasp the material.

The Gestalt principles of organization include:

  • Proximity – organization that focuses on the relationship of space to objects
  • Continuity – making connections between things that are sequential
  • Similarity – grouping things by shared properties
  • Uniformity – identifying the ways that things are alike
  • Figure and ground – focus on something that stands out from its surroundings
  • Symmetry – equal balance of things from one side to another
  • Closure – using previous knowledge to fill in the gaps

Integrating these elements into our presentations enables us to stay on topic and ensure that we have not created barriers to understanding for our audience. A clear, concise, and organized presentation or document will retain our audience's attention and enable our message to be communicated and retained.

For a more in-depth look at the Gestalt principles of organization, read Perception.


3e. Explain the relationship between interpretation and perception and why one person's perception can differ from another's

  • Why can the interpretation of a message change over time?
  • What are the barriers that can change our perspective?
  • What role do listening skills play in our ability to understand and retain information?
  • What are the individual differences that can affect our perception? How would you define them?

Perception is affected by a wide range of factors. Our past experiences and our current situation all play a part in how we perceive and interpret the information we receive. Our individual differences, such as our physical characteristics, state of mind, cultural background, and values, all play a role in interpreting messages. Also, the parts of a message on which we focus our attention generally relate to our specific areas of interest and familiarity.

However, our individual interpretations of a message may hinder our understanding of the sender's intended meaning. For example, if a speaker discusses product distribution, someone in the retail industry might interpret this as how a product reaches the ultimate consumer user. Someone in the logistics industry might interpret this as the product making its way from the manufacturer to a warehouse.

For a more in-depth review, read Differences in Perception.


3f. Analyze the demographics of a particular group to predict their interests, needs, and goals

  • What are the questions that should be answered to understand an audience?
  • How do audience demographics affect message delivery?
  • What are some strategies that can improve the perceptions of an audience?
  • Why is it important to be fair to an audience?

There are many ways we can come to know our audience. Learning about the audience's demographics can provide us with insight into the kinds of things they will find interesting and of importance.

Demographics refers to identifiable and measurable characteristics by which people can be defined. These include gender, age, education, income, life cycle, culture, religion, and ethnicity. By understanding our audiences' demographic makeup, we can adjust our presentations to meet their specific needs. As we dig deeper into the factors that define our listeners, we can better customize our message and have a greater audience understanding and retention.

For more information, read, Getting to Know Your Audience.


3g. Differentiate between hearing and listening

  • What are the elements that define both hearing and listening?
  • Why do we ignore some of the things we hear?
  • What are the benefits of active listening?

Hearing is an accidental and unconscious act. The many sounds that occur around us are largely ignored either on purpose or as a matter of course throughout our days. Listening, on the other hand, is an active and focused response. While we may choose to ignore some of the sounds and messages to which we are exposed, when we listen to a message, we are making a concentrated effort at understanding the intended meaning of that communication.

There are many benefits to being an active listener. By better focusing on the information we learn in the classroom, we can become better students. Giving our full attention to the people in our lives makes us better friends and family members.

When we listen to others attentively, we are projecting a caring and interesting image of intelligence and perception.

Finally, being a good listener can benefit us as public speakers. We can pick up tips about style and presentation methods that can enable us to improve our own speaking skills.

For a more in-depth look at how active listening can benefit us, read Listening vs. Hearing.


3h. Explain the habits of active listeners and active readers

  • What are the five strategies that facilitate active listening and reading?
  • Can you think of a situation where you could apply active listening skills?

Active listening and reading require us to give our full attention and be completely "in the moment" of an interaction. However, becoming an active listener and reader can take practice. By paying attention to the words being spoken or written and seeking context clues, we can gain a greater understanding of a message. Offering feedback can also demonstrate our attention to the speaker or writer's message.

Some tips for becoming a more active listener and reader include:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Listen without interrupting, and don't multitask
  • Focus on the message and not on your own internal thoughts
  • Restate the message in your own words to be sure you understood correctly
  • Ask questions to show interest and gain more insight

By implementing active listening or reading skills, we can give our full attention to the message and ask questions or provide meaningful feedback. Additionally, to gain and maintain trust, we must keep open lines of communication and demonstrate that the relationship is important in the long term.

To review, read Listening and Reading for Understanding.


Unit 3 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you with the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Self-concept
  • Self- esteem
  • Self-image
  • Looking-glass self
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Perception
  • Internal stimuli
  • External stimuli
  • Selective exposure
  • Selective attention
  • Selective retention
  • Organization schemes
  • Gestalt Principles of Organization
  • Interpretation
  • Perspective
  • Individual differences
  • Iceberg Model
  • Demographics
  • Mutuality
  • Nonjudgmentalism
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Reciprocity
  • Hearing
  • Active Listening