There are four main levels of communication theory that represents a different depth at which you are sharing information with another person. Each of these categories has differing degrees of intimacy when it comes to shared information. They are not mutually exclusive and it is possible for a conversation to cover all four levels of sharing. Knowing this information can help you with your communication skill.
Automatic-Impersonal Levels of Communication
This lowest levels of communication is a non-involvement method of dealing with people. The conversations at this level provide minimum disclosure. This usually includes greetings, superficial conversations about weather and casual acknowledgments of strangers and acquaintances. The main reason for this level is to recognize another human being without requiring providing any personal information about ourselves. Phrases such as “It’s a nice day isn’t it?” or “How are you doing? Fine, you?” all fall into this category. The purpose of this surface talk is to acknowledge another person in a manner that is acceptable socially and not to share deeply.
Factual-Impersonal Levels of Communication
This second levels of communication is to share information that is factual. When you introduce yourself to someone and mention that you just lost your pet or when you tell your roommate that you took out the trash, you are reporting facts. The key distinction of this level is that you are providing content in your message that can be proven or verified to be true. Phrases such as “I am half Irish” or “My brother lives in Europe” all fall into this category.
In the third levels of communication, you are providing your opinions. This level exposes more of who you really are and how you think and creates greater risk for you compared to just reporting facts. When you let other people hear about your opinions, attitudes and beliefs you are allowing them to see more of you. This can be a threatening situation to the person sharing information because there is much larger chance that someone will disagree or disapprove with you, which may result in conflicts with others. Trust must be present for this sort of communication to persist. When you share you opinion with others, you are trusting that they will listen to you, share with you their own opinion and that the two of you will be able to discuss any differences of opinion surrounded by acceptance and safety. There is a difference in choosing to disagree with an opinion and choosing to dislike the other person. When you discuss about the disagreements, you may find out that you are the one that is misinformed and wrong. When you open up yourselves to hearing the other side, you may actually learn something. Phrases that demonstrate sharing of opinion include “I think that you are too harsh” and “I believe that the mailman will be here in 10 minutes”.
The fourth and deepest level of communication is when theory you share your feelings with people that you are close to. The second and third levels of communication, facts and opinions, provide a two-dimensional picture of who you are. When you add in the sharing of your feelings, you get a complete three-dimensional image of yourselves. This sharing-of-feelings level is required for people to develop and maintain their close and intimate relationships with others. In this personal level of communication, you can find three types of statements. Direct feeling statements include “I am happy” or “I love you”. Explanation feeling statements not only include your feelings but also an explanation of why you feel that way: “I am so happy now that my wife has returned from her trip” and “I’ve been so angry lately after my car was impounded”. The last type of statement is the picture feeling statement, in the person is using a simile to describe their feelings: “I feel like I’m chained to my desk” or “I feel as light as a feather”.
As you continue communication with others, try to talk with others in a loving manner, whether you want to share at the first level or fourth level of communication. You can always use the right levels of communication provide positive feedback that is meant to build up a person in a gentle fashion instead of critical words that may build resentment over time.