Person-Centered Messages

One thing that is important in any type of communication is what has been called “person-centered messages” (Burleson & Caplan, 1997).  Before speaking, think “how is the other person going to hear this?”  Notice I did not say, “how would I hear this if I were in their shoes?”  There is a subtle but important difference.  Person-centered messages involve a skill of knowing how other people will react to what you say or do.  It’s a skill that some people are probably better at than others, but it’s something that all of us can work on.  Obviously, it is also something that improves as you get to know people.  Whether you are in an organization, a family, or any other context, thinking in terms of person-center messages makes you a better communicator.



Burleson, B. R., & Caplan, S. E. (1997). Cognitive complexity.  In J. C. McCroskey, J. A. Daly, & M. M. Martin (Eds.), Communication and personality: Trait perspectives. (pp. 230-286. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.


4 Responses

  1. […] they want to hear in the way in which they want to hear it.  I’ve talked in another post about person-centered messages, and I think that applies here.  When you have the ability to correctly predict how people will […]

  2. […] to be careful how you take control of conversations—you are talking to your supervisor.  Using person-centered messages is a good idea.  But you have to be willing to be assertive with your […]

  3. […] convince a supervisor to go with one of our ideas.  I’ve blogged before about the importance of person-centered messages and solution-oriented conversations as ways of successfully influencing your boss.  All Things […]

  4. […] Influencing your Boss Posted on July 1, 2009 by myofficebuzz How influential are you in your company?  Do people listen to what you have to say? Perhaps one of the tests of that is how influential you are with people above you in the organization.  All Things Workplace had a great post a few months ago on influencing up.  Not surprisingly, it starts before you want something—build a solid foundation of integrity and respect.  Then, think like your boss thinks.  Consider his or her needs in addition to your own.  What can help him or her say yes to your request?  Kind of sounds a lot like person-centered messages. […]

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