Coffee Conversations Ep. 15: Connecting the Dots

April 07, 2022
  • David VanderMolen
  • David VanderMolen
    Learning Sensei

Communication tends to follow a formula.

So, at its best, communication experienced by people on both sides of a conversation is sequential in nature.

Communication typically follows a particular path, until it arrives at the destination or end point. We call this the “flow of communication,” or The Communication Cycle.

Step one in The Communication Cycle is “We Seek to Connect.” That initiative – the starting point – carries a lot of significance.  

Although it seems like most people would characterize the “We Seek to Connect” step as an important step in The Communication Cycle, it is often the first step to be overlooked.

It’s not done with intention as much as it occurs accidentally. People simply take for granted that the purpose for initiating communication is to connect with another person.

Upon realization of the significance behind this first step in The Communication Cycle, people tend to connect the dots in their communication with others. They learn to recognize and respond to the various signaling behaviors people use to say, “I want to connect.”

Signaling behaviors could include: a coworker clearing their throat and starting to speak, a friend making eye contact from across the room. But whether it is a shift in somebody’s stance, somebody starting to speak or a gesture that invites interaction, all interpersonal communication starts from a need to connect. It comes to the surface in some form of signaling behavior.

Our job within The Communication Cycle is to recognize people’s signaling behaviors for what they are – a request to connect and properly respond to them.

Reflect on this...

  • How much significance do I give to We Seek to Connect, step one in The Communication Cycle? Do I recognize that a person’s purpose in initiating communication is to connect with me?
  • Do I routinely recognize the signaling behaviors that the people in my span of care at work and home are sending me?
  • Under what circumstances do I tend to miss people’s signaling behaviors?
  • What one protocol or practice can I put into place to help me to recognize and respond to other people’s signaling behaviors?
  • Who in my span of care is most in need of me recognizing and responding to their signalizing behaviors?


David VanderMolen is a former professor in Barry-Wehmiller University and a communication thought leader.

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