The Essentials of Human Communication

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Summary of The Essentials of Human Communication

1 Messages in the Media 30 Rock is a situation comedy that revolves around characters who could all use a good course in human communication. In this chapter we introduce the basics of human communication, explaining what it is and how it works. The Essentials of Human Communication 1 Objectives After reading this chapter, you should be able to: ➊ Identify the myths, skills, and forms of human communication. ➋ Draw a model of communication that includes sources-receivers, messages, context, channel, noise, and effects; and define each of these elements. ➌ Paraphrase the major principles of human communication. ➍ Explain the role of culture in human communication, the seven ways in which cultures differ from one another, the aim of a cultural perspective; and define ethnic identity and ethnocentrism. ➎ Define communication competence and explain the four qualities identified as part of competence. PART ONE Foundations of Human Communication Listen to the Audio Chapter in MyCommunicationLab M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 1 12/7/12 12:00 PM 2 CHAPTER 1 The Essentials of Human Communication Preliminaries to Human Communication Human communication consists of the sending and receiving of verbal and nonverbal mes- sages between two or more people. This seemingly simple (but in reality quite complex) pro- cess is the subject of this book, to which this chapter provides a foundation. Here we begin the study of human communication by looking first at the myths about communication (to get rid of them), the skills you’ll learn, and the forms of communication discussed here. Myths AbOut huMAn COMMuniCAtiOn A good way to begin your study of human communication is to examine just a few of the popular but erroneous beliefs about communication, many of which are contradicted by research and theory. Understanding these myths and why they are false will help elimi- nate potential barriers and pave the way for more effective and efficient learning about communication. ● The more you communicate, the better your communication will be. Although this proposi- tion seems logical—the same idea lies behind the popular belief that practice makes perfect—it actually is at the heart of much faulty learning. Practice may help make your communication perfect if you practice the right habits. But if you practice bad habits, you’re likely to grow less, rather than more, effective. Consequently, it’s important to learn and practice the principles of effectiveness. ● When two people are in a close relationship, neither person should have to communi- cate needs and wants explicitly; the other person should know what these are. This assumption is at the heart of many interpersonal difficulties. People aren’t mind read- ers, and to expect them to be sets up barriers to open and honest communication. ● Interpersonal or group conflict is a reliable sign that the relationship or group is in trouble. Conflict is inevitable in relationships and in groups. If the conflict is man- aged effectively, it may actually benefit the individuals and the relationship. ● Like good communicators, leaders are born, not made. Although some people are better suited to leadership than others, leadership, like communication and listening, is a learned skill. You’ll develop leadership abilities as you learn the principles of human communication and those unique to group communication and group leadership. ● Fear of speaking in public is detrimental and must be eliminated. Most speakers are ner- vous—and, to be perfectly honest, you’re probably not going to learn from this book or this course to eliminate what is commonly called stage fright or communication appre- hension. But you can learn to manage your fear, making it work for you rather than against you; you can learn, and this is crucial, to become a more effective speaker regard- less of your current level of anxiety. O f all the knowledge and skills you have, those concerning communication are among your most important and useful. Your communication ability will influence how effec- tively you live your personal and professional life; it will influence your effectiveness as a friend and lover. It will often make the difference between getting a job and not getting it. Your communication skills will determine your influence and effectiveness as a group mem- ber and your emergence as group leader. Your communication skills will increase your ability to communicate information and influence the attitudes and behaviors of others in a variety of public speaking situations. This first section introduces human communication, beginning with the skills and forms of human communication and some of the popular but erroneous beliefs that can get in the way of effective communication. Communication Choice Point Choices and human Communication Throughout this book you’ll find marginal items labelled Communication Choice Points. These items are designed to en- courage you to apply the material discussed in the text to specific communication situations by first analyzing your available choices and then making a communication decision. Explore the Exercise “I’d Prefer to Be” at MyCommunicationLab M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 2 12/7/12 12:00 PM Preliminaries to Human Communication 3 skills Of huMAn COMMuniCAtiOn Among the skills you’ll learn through your study of human commu- nication are these: ● Self-presentation skills enable you to present yourself as (and just for starters) a confident, likable, approachable, and credible person. It is also largely through your communication skills (or lack of them) that you display negative qualities. ● Relationship skills help you build friendships, enter into love relationships, work with colleagues, and interact with family members. These are the skills for initiating, maintaining, repairing, and sometimes dissolving relationships of all kinds. ● Interviewing skills enable you to interact to gain information, to successfully present yourself to get the job you want, and to partic- ipate effectively in a wide variety of other interview types. (This topic is covered in a separate supplement, The Interviewing Guidebook.) ● Group interaction and leadership skills help you participate effectively in relationship and task groups—informative, problem- solving, and brainstorming groups, at home or at work—as a member and as a leader. ● Presentation or public speaking skills will enable you to man- age your fear and make it work for you, rather than against you. These skills will enable you to communicate information to small and large audiences and influence their attitudes and behaviors. You’ll learn these skills and reap the benefits as you develop facility in the varied forms of communication, to which we now turn. fOrMs Of huMAn COMMuniCAtiOn You’ll accomplish these objectives and acquire these skills as you engage in and master a variety of human communication forms. Intrapersonal communication is the communica- tion you have with yourself—when you talk with, learn about, and judge yourself. You persuade yourself of this or that, reason about possible decisions to make, and rehearse messages that you plan to send to others. In intrapersonal communication you might, for example, wonder how you did in an interview and what you could have done differently. You might conclude you did a pretty good job but tell yourself you need to be more assertive when discussing salary. Interpersonal communication occurs when you interact with a person with whom you have some kind of relationship; it can take place face-to-face as well as through electronic channels (e-mail or instant messaging, for example) or even in traditional letter writing. Perhaps you might e-mail your friends or family about your plans for the weekend, ask someone in class for a date, or confront a colleague’s racist remarks at the water cooler. Through interpersonal communication you interact with others, learn about them and yourself, and reveal yourself to others. Whether with new acquaintances, old friends, lovers, family members, or colleagues at work, it’s through interpersonal communication that you establish, maintain, sometimes destroy, and sometimes repair personal relationships. Interviewing is a form of interpersonal communication that proceeds by question and answer. Through interviewing you learn about others and what they know, counsel or get counseling from others, and get or don’t get the job you want. Today much interviewing (especially initial interviews) takes place through e-mail, phone conferencing, or video conferencing with Skype, for example. ViewpOints importance of Communication Women often report that an essential quality—perhaps the most important quality—in a partner is the ability to commu- nicate. And managers and employment interviewers routinely list communication skills among the most important job- related skills in a desirable employee. How important, compared to all the other factors you might take into consid- eration in choosing a partner or in succeeding at work, is the ability to communicate? What specific communication skills would you consider “extremely important” in a life partner? M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 3 12/7/12 12:00 PM 4 CHAPTER 1 The Essentials of Human Communication Small group communication or team communication is com- munication among groups of, say five to ten people and may take place face-to-face or, increasingly, in virtual space. Small group communication serves relationship needs—such as those for companionship, affection, or support—and task needs—such as balancing the family budget, electing a new chairperson, or design- ing a new ad campaign. Through small group communication you interact with others, solve problems, develop new ideas, and share knowledge and experiences. Public communication is communication between a speaker and an audience. Audiences range in size from several people to hundreds, thousands, and even millions. Through public communication a speaker will inform and persuade you. And you, in turn, inform and persuade others—to act, to buy, or to think in a particular way. Much as you can address large audiences face-to-face, you also can address such audiences electronically. Through social networks, newsgroups, or blogs, for example, you can post your “speech” for anyone to read and then read their reactions to your message. In addition, with the help of the more tradi- tional mass media of radio and television, you can address audiences in the hundreds of mil- lions as they sit alone or in small groups all over the world. Computer-mediated communication is a general term that includes all forms of com- munication between people that take place through some kind of computer, whether it’s on your smartphone or via a standard Internet connection. Examples include e-mail, blogging, instant messaging, or posting or chatting on social network sites such as Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Throughout this text, we’ll make frequent reference to the similarities and differ- ences between face-to-face and computer-mediated communication. Mass communication refers to communication from one source to many receivers who may be scattered throughout the world. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and film are the major mass media. Recently media literacy—the skills and competencies needed to become a wiser, more critical consumer—has become central to the study of human commu- nication. Accordingly, the coverage of mass communication here is limited to media literacy—a topic covered in the chapter-opening photos, in frequent examples, illustrations, and exercises, and the inclusion of a variety of Media Literacy boxes at MyCommunicationlab. This text focuses on all these forms of communication—and on you as both message sender and message receiver. It has two major purposes: ● To explain the concepts and principles, the theory and research in human communication, so that you’ll have a firm understanding of what communication is and how it works. ● To provide you with skills of human communication that will help you increase your communication competence and effectiveness in your personal and professional lives. Objectives self-Check ● Can you identify the myths that can hinder the study of communication? ● Can you identify the wide variety of skills you’ll learn as you progress through this course? ● Can you identify the forms of human communication to be covered here? Communication Models and Concepts In early models (representations) or theories, the communication process was thought to be linear. According to this linear view, the speaker spoke and the listener listened. Communica- tion was seen as proceeding in a relatively straight line. Speaking and listening were seen as taking place at different times; when you spoke, you didn’t listen, and when you listened, you didn’t speak (Figure 1.1). For some advice for beginning col- lege students, see “To Beginning Students” at tcbdevito.blogspot .com. What additional advice would you want? Read the “Media Literacy boxes” at MyCommunicationLab M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 4 12/7/12 12:01 PM Communication Models and Concepts 5 A more satisfying view, the one held currently, sees communication as a transactional process in which each person serves as both speaker and listener, sending and receiving messages (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967; Watzlawick, 1977, 1978; Barnlund, 1970). In face-to-face communication, while you send messages you’re also receiving messages from your own communications and from the reactions of the other per- son. This is also true in phone communication, in instant messaging, and in chatting. Other online communications, such as posting on Facebook or e-mail, more closely resemble the linear model of communication where sending and receiving occur at different times. The transactional view also sees the elements of communication as interdependent (never independent). This means that each element exists in relation to the others. A change in any one element of the process produces changes in the other elements. For example, if you’re having a meeting with a group of your coworkers and your boss enters the room, this change in “audience” will lead to other changes. Perhaps you’ll change what you’re saying or how you’re saying it. Regardless of what change is introduced, other changes will occur as a result. Communication occurs when you send or receive messages and when you assign meaning to another person’s signals. All human communication occurs within a context, is transmitted via one or more channels, is distorted by noise, and has some effect. We can expand the basic transactional model of communication by adding these essential elements, as shown in Figure 1.2. sOurCes–reCeivers According to the transactional model, each person involved in com- munication is both a source (speaker) and a receiver (listener); hence the term sources–receivers. You send messages when you speak, write, gesture, or smile. You receive messages in listening, reading, seeing, smelling, and so on. At the same time that you send messages, you’re also receiving messages: You’re receiving your own messages (you hear yourself, feel your own movements, see many of your own gestures), and, at least in face-to-face communication, you’re receiving the mes- sages of the other person—visually, auditorily, or even through touch or smell. As you speak, you look at the person for responses—for approval, understanding, sympathy, agreement, and so on. As you decipher these nonverbal signals, you’re performing receiver functions. When you write to or text someone with video; the situation is very similar to the face-to-face situa- tion. Without video, you might visualize the responses you expect/want the person to give. When you put your ideas into speech, you’re putting them into a code; hence you’re encoding. When you translate the sound waves (the speech signals) that impinge on your ears or read the words on a screen, into ideas, you take them out of the code they’re in; hence you’re decoding. Thus, speakers or writers are often referred to as encoders, and listeners or readers as decoders. The linked term encoding–decoding emphasizes the fact that you per- form these functions simultaneously. Usually, you encode an idea into a code that the other person understands—for example, Eng- lish, Spanish, or Indonesian, depending on the shared knowledge that you and your listener possess. At times, however, you may want to exclude others by speaking in a language that only one of your listeners knows or by using jargon. The use of abbreviations and jargon in text messaging is an- other example of how people communicate in a code that only certain people will understand. MessAges Communication messages take many forms and are transmitted or received through one or more sensory organs or a combination of them. You communicate verbally (with words) and figure 1.1 the linear view of human Communication The speaker speaks and the listener listens. Listener Speaker figure 1.2 the essentials of human Communication This is a general model of communication between two people and most accurately depicts communication as a transactional process. It puts into visual form the various elements of the communication process. How would you revise this model to depict small group interaction or public speaking? Feedforward Feedforward F e e d b a c k M e s s a g e s / C h a n n e ls F e e d b a c k M e s s a g e s / C h a n n e ls Noise Context Source/ encoder Receiver/ decoder Source/ encoder Receiver/ decoder Explore the Exercise “Comparing Human Communication” at MyCommunicationLab M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 5 12/7/12 12:01 PM 6 CHAPTER 1 The Essentials of Human Communication feedback Messages When you send a message—say, in speaking to another person—you also hear yourself. That is, you get feedback from your own messages; you hear what you say, you feel the way you move, you see what you write. In addition to this self-feedback, you also get feedback from others. This feedback can take many forms. A frown or a smile, a yea or a nay, a returned poke or a retweet, a pat on the back or a punch in the mouth are all types of feedback. Feedback tells the speaker what effect he or she is having on listen- ers. On the basis of feedback, the speaker may adjust, modify, strengthen, deemphasize, or change the content or form of the mes- sages. For example, if someone laughs at your joke (giving you positive feedback), it may encourage you to tell another one. If the feedback is negative—no laughing, just blank stares—then you may resist relaying another “humorous” story. Metamessages A metamessage is a message that refers to an- other message; it is communication about communication. For exam- ple, remarks such as “This statement is false” or “Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?” refer to communication and are there- fore “metacommunicational.” Nonverbal behavior may also be metacommunicational. Obvi- ous examples include crossing your fingers behind your back or winking when telling a lie. On a less obvious level, consider the blind date. As you say, “I had a really nice time,” your nonverbal messages—the lack of a smile, failure to maintain eye contact— metacommunicate and contradict the verbal “really nice time,” sug- gesting that you did not enjoy the evening. Nonverbal messages may also metacommunicate about other nonverbal messages. The individual who, on meeting a stranger, both smiles and extends a totally lifeless hand shows how one nonverbal behavior may con- tradict another. Workplace Messages In workplace organizations messages are often classified in terms of their direction. nonverbally (without words). Your meanings or intentions are conveyed with words (Chapter 4) and with the clothes you wear, the way you walk, and the way you smile (Chapter 5). Every- thing about you communicates a message. feedforward Messages Feedforward is information you provide before sending your primary messages (Richards, 1951). It reveals something about the messages to come and in- cludes, for example, the preface or table of contents of a book, the opening paragraph of a chapter, movie previews, magazine covers, and introductions in public speeches. Feedforward may be verbal (“Wait until you hear this one”) or nonverbal (a prolonged pause or hands motioning for silence to signal that an important message is about to be spo- ken). Or, as is most often the case, it is some combination of verbal and nonverbal. Feedfor- ward may refer to the content of the message to follow (“I’ll tell you exactly what they said to each other”) or to the form (“I won’t spare you the gory details”). In e-mail, feedforward is given in the header, where the name of the sender, the date, and the subject of the message are identified. Caller ID is also an example of feedforward. Another type of feedforward is phatic communication—“small talk” that opens the way for “big talk.” It includes the “How are you?” and “Nice weather” greetings that are designed to maintain rapport and friendly relationships (Placencia, 2004; Burnard, 2003). Similarly, listeners’ short comments that are unrelated to the content of the conversation but indicate interest and attention also may be considered phatic communication (McCarthy, 2003). Communication Choice Point giving feedforward The grades were just posted for a course, and you see that your dorm mate failed. You got an A. Your dorm mate asks you about the grades. You feel you want to preface your remarks. What kind of feedforward might you give in this case? ViewpOints feedback Based on your own experiences, do you find that people who accurately read and respond to feedback are better liked than those who don’t read feedback as accurately? In what ways might the ability to give effective feedback influence the growth or deterioration of a relationship? Is there a relationship between the ability to read feedback and the ability to communicate information or to per- suade an audience? Explore the Exercise “How to Give Feedforward” at MyCommunicationLab M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 6 12/7/12 12:01 PM Communication Models and Concepts 7 COMMuniCAtiOn COntext Communication exists in a context that determines, to a large extent, the meaning of any verbal or nonverbal message. The same words or behaviors may have totally dif- ferent meanings when they occur in different contexts. For example, the greeting “How are you?” means “Hello” to someone you pass regularly on the street but “Is your health improving?” to a friend in the hospital. A wink to an attractive person on a bus means something completely different from a wink that signifies a put-on or a lie. Divorced from the context, it’s impossible to tell what meaning was intended from just examining the signals. The context will also influence what you say and how you say it. You communi- cate differently depending on the specific context you’re in. Contexts have at least four aspects: physical, cultural, social-psychological, and temporal or time. ● The physical context is the tangible or concrete environment, the room, park, or auditorium; you don’t talk the same way at a noisy football game as you do at a quiet funeral. ● The cultural context involves the lifestyles, beliefs, values, behavior, and communica- tion of a group; it is the rules of a group of people for considering something right or wrong. ● The social-psychological context has to do with the status relationships among speakers, the formality of the situation, the norms of a group or organization; you don’t talk the same way in the cafeteria as you would at a formal dinner at your boss’s house. ● Upward communication consists of messages sent from the lower levels of a hierarchy to the upper levels—for example, from line worker to manager, or faculty member to dean. This type of communication usually is concerned with job-related activities and problems; ideas for change and suggestions for improvement; and feelings about the organization, work, other workers, or simi- lar issues. ● Downward communication consists of messages sent from the higher levels to the lower levels of the hierarchy—for example, messages sent by managers to workers or by deans to faculty members. Common forms of downward communication include orders; explanations of procedures, goals, and changes; and appraisals of workers. ● Lateral communication refers to messages between equals— manager-to-manager, worker-to-worker. Such messages may move within the same subdivision or department of the orga- nization or across divisions. Lateral communication, for exam- ple, is the kind of communication that takes place between two history professors at Illinois State University, between a psychologist at Ohio State and a communicologist at Kent State, or between a bond trader and an equities trader at a brokerage house. ● Grapevine communication messages don’t follow any of the for- mal, hierarchical lines of communication established in an orga- nization; rather, they seem to have a life of their own. Grapevine messages concern job-related issues that you want to discuss in a more interpersonal setting—for example, organizational issues that have not yet been made public, the real relationship among the regional managers, or possible changes that are being considered but not yet finalized. ViewpOints synchronous and Asynchronous Communication In face-to-face and in much online communication, mes- sages are exchanged with virtually no delay; communication is synchronous. In other forms of communication—for exam- ple, snail or e-mail and blog posts—the messages may be exchanged with considerable delay; communication here is asynchronous. What differences does this lead to in the way you communicate in these various forms? Communication Choice Point Message Overload Several relatives have devel- oped chain e-mail lists and send you virtu- ally everything they come upon as they surf the Internet. You need to stop this e-mail overload. But, most of all, you don’t want to insult your relatives or make them feel guilty. What are some of the things you might say? What are the advantages and disadvan- tages of saying nothing? M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 7 12/7/12 12:01 PM 8 CHAPTER 1 The Essentials of Human Communication As you can see from these examples, noise is anything that distorts your receiving the messages of others or their receiving your messages. A useful concept in understanding noise and its importance in communication is signal- to-noise ratio. In this term the word signal refers to information that you’d find useful, and noise refers to information that is useless (to you). So, for example, a post or feed that contains lots of useful information is high on signal and low on noise; one that contains lots of useless information is high on noise and low on signal. nOise Noise is anything that interferes with your receiving a message. At one extreme, noise may prevent a message from getting from source to receiver. A roaring noise or line static can pre- vent entire messages from getting through to your phone receiver. At the other extreme, with virtually no noise interference, the message of the source and the message received are almost identical. Most often, however, noise distorts some portion of the message a source sends as it travels to a receiver. Just as messages may be auditory or visual, noise comes in both auditory and visual forms. Four types of noise are especially relevant: ● The temporal context is a message’s position within a sequence of events; you don’t talk the same way after someone tells you about the death of a close relative as you do after someone reveals they’ve won the lottery. These four contexts interact—each influences and is influenced by the others. For example, arriving late for a date (temporal context) may lead to changes in the degree of friendliness (social–psychological context), which would depend on the cultures of you and your date (cultural context), and may lead to changes in where you go on the date (physical context). ChAnnel The communication channel is the vehicle or medium through which messages pass. Communication rarely takes place over only one channel. Rather, two, three, or four channels may be used simultaneously. In face-to-face conversations, for example, you speak and listen (vocal channel), but you also gesture and receive signals visually (visual channel). You also emit and smell odors (olfactory channel) and often touch one another; this tactile channel, too, is communication. Another way to classify channels is by the means of communication. Thus, face- to-face contact, telephones, e-mail, movies, television, smoke signals, and telegraph all are types of channels. Communication Choice Point Channels You want to ask someone for a date and are considering how you might go about this. What are your choices among channels? Which channel would be the most effective? Which channel would provoke the least anxiety? ● Physical noise is interference that is external to both speaker and listener; it interferes with the physical transmission of the signal or message and would include the screeching of passing cars, the hum of a computer, sunglasses, blurred type or fonts that are too small or difficult to read, misspellings and poor grammar, and popup ads. ● Physiological noise is created by barriers within the sender or receiver and would in- clude visual impairments, hearing loss, articulation problems, and memory loss. ● Psychological noise refers to mental interference in the speaker or listener and includes preconceived ideas, wandering thoughts, biases and prejudices, close-mindedness, and extreme emotionalism. You’re likely to run into psychological noise when you talk with someone who is close-minded or who refuses to listen to anything he or she doesn’t already believe. ● Semantic noise is interference that occurs when the speaker and listener have different meaning systems; it would include language or dialectical differences, the use of jargon or overly complex terms, and ambiguous or overly abstract terms whose meanings can be easily misinterpreted. You see this type of noise regularly in the medical doctor who uses “medicalese” without explanation or in the insurance salesperson who speaks in the jar- gon of the insurance industry. Noise of a somewhat different type is discussed in “The Chain Letter as Dysfunctional Communication” at What’s your opinion of the chain letter? Are there some chain letters that you view more positively than others? M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 8 12/7/12 12:01 PM Principles of Communication 9 All communications contain noise. Noise can’t be totally eliminated, but its effects can be reduced. Making your language more precise, sharpening your skills for sending and receiving nonverbal messages, adjusting your camera for greater clarity, and improv- ing your listening and feedback skills are some ways to combat the influence of noise. effeCts Communication always has some effect on those involved in the communication act. For every communication act, there is some consequence. For example, you may gain knowledge or learn how to analyze, synthesize, or evaluate something. These are intel- lectual or cognitive effects. You may acquire new feelings, attitudes, or beliefs or change existing ones (affective effects). You may learn new bodily movements, such as how to throw a curve ball, paint a picture, give a compliment, or express surprise (psychomotor effects). Objectives self-Check ● Can you draw/diagram a model of communication that contains the elements of source-receiver, messages, context, channel, noise, and effects and that illustrates how these are related to each other? Can you define each of these elements? Principles of Communication Several principles are essential to an understanding of human communication in all its forms. These principles, as you’ll see throughout the text, also have numerous practical implications to help you increase your own communication effectiveness. A summary of these principles appears in Table 1.1. COMMuniCAtiOn is purpOseful You communicate for a purpose; some motivation leads you to communicate. When you speak or write, you’re trying to send some message and to accomplish some goal. Although different cultures emphasize different purposes and motives (Rubin, Fernandez-Collado, & Hernandez-Sampieri, 1992), five general purposes seem relatively common to most, if not all, forms of communication: ● to learn: to acquire knowledge of others, the world, and yourself ● to relate: to form relationships with others, to interact with others as individuals ● to help: to assist others by listening, offering solutions ● to influence: to strengthen or change the attitudes or behaviors of others ● to play: to enjoy the experience of the moment Video Choice Point ryan Asks for a recommendation Ryan, a communication major, needs a letter of recommendation for a summer internship. He wants to ask Professor Starck, a popular instructor who he previously had in class, for a recommendation. But, he isn’t sure how to approach her. He considers the effect of the various elements of communication—including con- text, feedback, feedforward, noise, and channel–on the outcome as he contemplates composing an effective mes- sage. In this video you’ll see Ryan try three different approaches with varying effects. See how his choices play out in the video, “Ryan Asks for a Recommendation” . Watch the Video “Ryan Asks for a Recommendation” at MyCommunicationLab Watch the Video “Going Up” at MyCommunicationLab Communication Choice Point negative Communica- tion effects You post a really negative re- mark on your friend’s Facebook wall. The next day you realize you shouldn’t have been so negative. You want to remain friends; you need to say something. What are your options for communicating your feel- ings? What would you do? M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 9 12/7/12 12:01 PM 10 CHAPTER 1 The Essentials of Human Communication In research on the motivations/purposes for using social networking sites, it’s the rela- tionship purpose that dominates. One research study, for example, finds the following moti- vations/purposes, in order of frequency mentioned: Staying in touch with friends, staying in touch with family, connecting with friends with whom you’ve lost contact, connecting with those who share your interests, making new friends, reading comments by celebrities, and finding romantic partners (Smith, 2011). As you can see the reasons are mostly to relate but the other purposes are likely served in the process. Popular belief and research findings both agree that men and women use communication for different purposes. Generally, men seem to communicate more for information and women more for relationship purposes (Gamble & Gamble, 2003; Stewart, Cooper, & Stewart, 2003; Helgeson, 2009). Gender differences also occur in electronic communication. For example, women chat more for relationship reasons; men chat more to play and to relax (Leung, 2001). COMMuniCAtiOn invOlves ChOiCes Throughout your communication life and in each communication interaction you’re pre- sented with choice points—moments when you have to make a choice as to whom you com- municate with, what you say, what you don’t say, how you phrase what you want to say, and so on. This course and this text aim to give you reasons (grounded in communication theory and research discussed throughout the text) for the varied choices you’ll be called upon to make in your communication interactions. The course also aims to give you the skills you’ll need to execute these well-reasoned choices. You can look at the process of choice in terms of educational theorist John Dewey’s (1910) steps in reflective thinking, a model used for explaining small group problem solving and conflict resolution. It can also be used to explain the notion of choice in five steps. Table 1.1 A summary of some principles of human Communication Here, in brief, are the seven principles of human communication, their basic ideas and implications. principles basic ideas skill implications Communication is purposeful. Communication may serve a variety of purposes— for example, to learn, to relate, to help, to influence, to play. Use your purposes to guide your verbal and nonverbal messages. Identify the purposes in the messages of others. Communication involves choices. In all communication situations you’re con- fronted with choices as to what to say and how you say it. Communication training enlarges the number of choices. Realize that you have choices in your com- munications and you don’t have to say the first thing that comes into your head. Communication is ambiguous. All messages and all relationships are poten- tially ambiguous. Use clear and specific terms, ask if you’re being understood, and paraphrase complex ideas. Communication involves content and relation- ship dimensions. Messages may refer to the real world, to something external to both speaker and listener (the content) and to the relationships between the parties. Distinguish between content and relationship messages and deal with relationship issues as relationship issues. Communication has a power dimension. Through verbal and nonverbal communica- tion, you establish your power. Follow the guidelines for effective ethical communication. Communication is punctuated. Communication events are continuous trans- actions, punctuated into causes and effects for convenience. See alternative punctuations when trying to understand another’s point of view. Communication is inevitable, irreversible, and unrepeatable. Messages are (almost) always being sent, can’t be uncommunicated, and are always unique, one-time occurrences. Be careful of what you say; you won’t be able to take it back. M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 10 12/7/12 12:01 PM Principles of Communication 11 ● Step 1: The problem. View a communication interaction as a problem to be resolved, as a situation to be addressed. Here you try to understand the nature of the communication situation and the elements involved. Let’s say that your “problem” is that you said some- thing you shouldn’t have and it’s created a problem between you and your friend, roman- tic partner, or family member. You need to resolve this problem. ● Step 2: The criteria. Ask yourself what your specific communication goal is. What do you want your message to accomplish? For example, you want to admit your mistake, apologize, and be forgiven. ● Step 3: The possible solutions. Ask yourself what are some of your communication choices. What are some of the messages you might communicate in your apology? ● Step 4: The analysis. Identify the advantages and disadvantages of each communication choice. ● Step 5: The selection and execution. Communicate your best choice, the one that you hope will resolve the problem and get you forgiveness. As a student of communication, you would later reflect on this communication situa- tion and identify what you learned, what you did well, and what you could have done more effectively. COMMuniCAtiOn is AMbiguOus Ambiguity is the condition in which something can be interpreted in more than one way. The first type, language ambiguity, is created by words that can be interpreted differently. In- formal time terms offer good examples; soon, right away, in a minute, early, late, and similar terms can be understood differently by different people. The terms are ambiguous. A more interesting type of ambiguity is grammatical ambiguity. You can get a feel for this type of am- biguity by trying to paraphrase—rephrase in your own words—the following sentences: ● What has the cat in its paws? ● Flying planes can be dangerous. ● They are frying chickens. Each of these ambiguous sentences can be interpreted and paraphrased in at least two different ways: ● What does the cat have in its paws? What monster has the cat in its paws? ● To fly planes is dangerous. Planes that fly can be dangerous. ● Those people are frying chickens. Those chickens are for frying. Although these examples are particularly striking—and are the work of linguists who an- alyze language—some degree of ambiguity exists in all communication. When you express an idea, you never communicate your meaning exactly and totally; rather, you communicate your meaning with some reasonable accuracy—enough to give the other person a reasonably clear idea of what you mean. The second type of ambiguity is relationship ambiguity. All relationships are ambiguous to some extent. Consider your own close relationships and ask yourself the following questions. Answer using a six-point scale on which 1 = completely or almost completely uncer- tain, and 6 = completely or almost completely certain. How certain are you about: 1. What can you say or not say to each other in this relationship? 2. Do you and your partner feel the same way about each other? 3. How would you and your partner describe this relationship? 4. How do you see the future of this relationship? You probably were not able to respond with 6s for all four questions, and it is equally likely that your relationship partner would not respond with all 6s to these questions, adapted from a relationship uncertainty scale (Knobloch & Solomon, 1999). Communication Choice Point relationship Ambiguity You’ve been dating Jessie on and off for the past six months. Today Jessie asks you to come to dinner and meet the par- ents. You’re not sure what this means, what message Jessie’s trying to send. What options do you have for disambiguating this dinner invi- tation message? What would you say? As you think about making choices, take a look at “Satisficing: A Note on Making Choices” at M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 11 12/7/12 12:01 PM 12 CHAPTER 1 The Essentials of Human Communication COMMuniCAtiOn hAs A pOWer DiMensiOn Power refers to your ability to influence or control the behaviors of another person. Your power influences the way you communicate, and the way you communicate influences the power you wield. Research has identified six types of power: legitimate, referent, reward, co- ercive, expert, and information or persuasion (French & Raven, 1968; Raven, Centers, & Ro- drigues, 1975). Before reading about these types of power, take the accompanying self-test; it will help personalize the material you’ll read about. COMMuniCAtiOn invOlves COntent AnD relAtiOnship DiMensiOns Communication exists on at least two levels: a message referring to something external to both speaker and listener (e.g., the weather) or to the relationship between speaker and listener (e.g., who is in charge). These two aspects are referred to as content and relationship dimensions of communication (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967). In the cartoon shown here, the father is explicitly teaching his son the difference between content and rela- tionship messages. In real life this distinction is rarely discussed (outside of textbooks and counseling sessions). Some research shows that women send more relationship messages than men; they talk more about relationships in general and about the present relationship in particular. Men engage in more con- tent talk; they talk more about things external to the relationship (Wood, 1994; Pearson, West, & Turner, 1995; Helgeson, 2009). Problems often result from a failure to distinguish between the content and the relationship levels of communication. Consider a couple, Pat and Chris. Pat made plans to attend a rally with friends during the weekend without first asking Chris, and an argument has ensued. Both would probably have agreed that attending the rally was the right choice to make. Thus, the argument is not centered on the content level. The argument, instead, centers on the relationship level. Chris expected to be consulted about plans for the weekend. Pat, in not doing so, rejected this definition of the relationship. You can look at the skills of human communication presented throughout this text as a means for appropriately reducing ambiguity and making the meanings you send and the meanings you receive as unambiguous as possible. How would you communicate both the content and the relationship messages in the following situations? 1. After a date that you didn’t enjoy and don’t want to repeat ever again, you want to express your sincere thanks; but you don’t want to be misinterpreted as communicating any indication that you would go on another date with this person. 2. You’re tutoring a high school freshman in algebra, but your tutee is really terrible and isn’t paying attention or doing the homework you assign. You need to change this behavior and motivate a great change, yet at the same time you don’t want to discourage or demoralize the young student. 3. You’re interested in dating a friend on Facebook who also attends the college you do and with whom you’ve been chatting for a few weeks. But you don’t know if the feeling is mutual. You want to ask for the date but to do so in a way that, if you’re turned down, you won’t be horribly embarrassed. Content and relationship messages serve different communication functions. Being able to distinguish between them is a prerequisite to using and responding to them effectively. Skill DEVElOPMENT ExPERiENCE Communicating Content and Relationship Messages “It’s not about the story. It’s about Daddy taking time out of his busy day to read you the story.” © Peter C. Vey/Condé Nast Publications/ M01_DEVI3066_CH01_pp001-023.indd 12 12/7/12 12:01 PM Principles of Communication 13 ● You hold legitimate power when others believe you have a right—by virtue of your posi- tion—to influence or control others’ behaviors. For example, as an employer, judge, manager, or police officer, you’d have legitimate power by virtue of your role. ● You have referent power when others wish to be like you. Referent power holders often are attractive, have considerable prestige, and are well liked and well respected. For example, you may have referent power over a younger brother because he wants to be like you. ● You have reward power when you control the rewards that others want. Rewards may be material (money, promotion, jewelry) or social (love, friendship, respect). For example, teachers have reward power over students because they control grades, letters of recom- mendation, and social approval. ● You have coercive power when you have the ability to administer punishments to or remove rewards from others if they do not do as you wish. Usually, people who have reward power also have coercive power. For example, teachers may give poor grades or withhold recommendations. But be careful: Coercive power may reduce your other power bases. It can have a negative impact when used, for example, by supervisors on subordinates in business (Richmond et al., 1984). ● You have expert power when others see you as having expertise or special knowl- edge. Your expert power increases when you’re perceived as being unbiased and as having nothing personally to gain from exerting this power. For example, judges have expert power in legal matters and doctors have expert power in medical matters. Communication Choice Point unwanted talk Your supervisor at work con- tinually talks about sex. You fear your lack of reaction has been interpreted as a sign of approval. You need to change that but at the same time not alienate the person who can fire you. What are some of things you might do to stop this unwanted talk? TEST YOuRSElF How Powerful Are You? For each statement, indicate which of the following descriptions is most appropriate, using the scale below. 1 = true of 20 percent or fewer of the people I know; 2 = true of about 21 to 40 percent of the people I know; 3 = true of about 41 to 60 percent of the people I know; 4 = true of about 61 to 80 percent of the people I know; and 5 = true of 81 percent or more of the people I know. ➊ My position is such that I often have to tell others what to do. For example, a mother’s position de- mands that she tell her children what to do, a manager’s position demands that he or she tell em- ployees what to do, and so on. ➋ People wish to be like me or identified with me. For example, high school football players may ad- mire the former professional football player who is now their coach and want to be like him. ➌ People see me as having the ability to give them what they want. For example, employers have the ability to give their employees increased pay, longer vacations, or improved working conditions. ➍ People see me as having the ability to administer punishment or to withhold things they want. For example, employers have the ability to reduce voluntary overtime, shorten vacation time, or fail to improve working conditions. ➎ Other people realize that I have expertise in certain areas...