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COM110 Elements of Human Communication

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1 COM110 Elements of Human Communication
Jim Friscia /

2 Week 4 Verbal Communication Nonverbal Communication Assignment Review

3 Goals Learn the nature and principles of verbal messages
Learn to use verbal messages more effectively Learn to avoid sexist, heterosexist, racist and ageist language Use nonverbal messages to communicate in a variety of ways Use appropriate and effective types of nonverbal communication Communicate appropriately based on gender and culture

4 Review: Active Listening
Paraphrase Ask questions Avoid interrupting Give supportive cues Show empathy Maintain eye contact Give positive feedback Examples of Confirming responses: Direct acknowledgment is when you respond directly to something another person says and acknowledges the person is worth responding to. Agreement about judgments confirms someone’s evaluation of something Supportive responses offer reassurance and understanding and confirm a person’s right to his or her feelings. Clarifying responses seek greater understanding of another’s message and confirm that he or she is worth your time and trouble. Expression of positive feeling makes us feel valued and confirmed. Compliments confirm our sense of worth. Examples of Disconfirming responses: Interrupting responses imply that what the other person has to say is more important that your message. Irrelevant responses that have nothing to do with what you were saying may mean the other person wasn’t listening. Tangential responses acknowledge the other person but are only minimally related to what you are discussing. Impersonal responses intellectualize and use the third person to create distance from the other person. Incoherent responses are inconsistent with the accompanying nonverbal behavior.

5 Listening Differences: Culture
Language and accents may be different The meaning of nonverbal displays vary among cultures Tone and content of feedback varies according to person/situations Different norms of verbals and nonverbals Different feedback styles exist Listening is a difficult process because no two communicators have the same frame of reference. Effective listening may be exacerbated by cultural or gender differences that influence language and speech, nonverbal behavior, and feedback. Discuss high-context and low-context cultures  Language and Speech – no two speakers speak exactly the same language. Effective listening requires being aware of the different meanings speakers may have for the same words. This is especially true when speakers are using languages learned as second languages. Nonverbal Behaviors – listening requires attention to both what is said and nonverbal cues. Effective listeners also consider how different cultures may give different meanings to the same nonverbal cues. Feedback – effective listeners attend to feedback with full recognition that various cultures view feedback differently

6 Listening and Gender: A difference of socialization
Men Lecture Seek facts Desire respect Interrupt more often Change topics more often Women Talk, not lecture Build relationships Want to be liked More patient More sensitive to emotions Listening and Gender – some research suggests that women and men generally exhibit different listening behaviors; women may be socialized to show more empathy and rapport by providing more listening cues; men may be socialized to be dominant communicators, to exhibit less listening cues and interrupt or change topics more.


8 Verbal Communication Skills
Words are symbols that represent something else. Six Principles of Verbal messages Message meaning are in people. Messages are denotative and connotative. Messages vary in abstraction. Messages vary in politeness. Message vary in assertiveness. Messages are influenced by culture and gender. Words, words, and more words … how do they work?

9 Homework Question: Explain why it is that two people, having chosen the same word, will likely have two different connotative meanings for the same word. Explain why it is that two people, having chosen the same word, will likely have two different connotative meanings for the same word.

10 Language and Meaning Denotative Connotative Concrete Abstract
Language creates meaning on two levels: content and feelings. The denotative level conveys content; the word’s restrictive or literal meaning as found in the dictionary. The connotative level of language conveys feelings; the personal or subjective meaning of a word. Words symbolize concrete or abstract meaning. We call a word concrete if we can experience its referent with one of our senses. If we cannot experience the referent with our senses, then the word is abstract. In general, the more concrete the language, the easier it is for others to understand. general terms, such as “human being,” are high in abstraction specific terms, such as “Aunt Mary” are low in abstraction and are usually more effective in guiding the images that come to your listeners’ minds Denotative Connotative Concrete Abstract

11 Language and Meaning Arbitrary Culture-bound Context-bound
Words are arbitrary. There is not necessarily a logical connection between the referent and the symbol. The arbitrary nature of most words means that there is no inherent meaning in a word. The meaning of any word is in the head of the speaker and of the listener! Based on what? Considering the connotative and abstract nature of words, it’s a wonder how we ever accurately communicate! Words are context-bound Meaning derived from the situation in which they are used. And meaning is in people – What does this mean? Words are culture-bound. The meaning of words, can change from culture to culture. Verbal Messages vary in directness indirect statements are attempts to get a listener to say or do something without committing the speaker to any responsibility while direct speech states clearly the speaker’s preferences Direct messages are generally regarded as more honest Indirect messages allow people to express a desire without insulting or offending anyone or to ask for compliments in a socially acceptable manner; however, indirect messages can be overly ambiguous and easily misunderstood as well as seen as manipulative Arbitrary Culture-bound Context-bound Vary in directness

12 Messages are Influenced by Culture and Gender
Messages are culturally influenced The principles of: cooperation peaceful relations self-denigration directness Gender Verbal messages reflect considerable gender influences Example: Politeness Cultural Influences – culture teaches us “acceptable” and “appropriate” ways to use language. Some common contradictory cultural rules or principles include: The principle of cooperation: an assumption that in communicating, people are engaged in a cooperative effort to help each other understand each other. Includes four maxims: the maxim of quality: be truthful, do not lie the maxim of relation: talk about what is relevant to the conversation the maxim of manner: be clear, brief, and organized the maxim of quantity: provide enough information to be understood; however, say only what needs to be said The principle of peaceful relations: an assumption that keeping peace in a relationship takes precedence over expressing disagreement The principle of face-saving: an assumption that one should never embarrass anyone, especially in public The principle of self-denigration: an assumption that one should avoid taking credit for accomplishments Copyright ©2011, 2008, 2005 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

13 Messages are Influenced by Culture and Gender
Messages are culturally influenced The principles of: cooperation peaceful relations self-denigration directness Gender Verbal messages reflect considerable gender influences Example: Politeness The principle of directness: levels of directness vary from culture to culture. Generally, high levels of directness are valued and expected with US culture. Contrast this assumption with the following two principles related to Japanese language: [O]moiyari: similar to empathy; an assumption that a listener has the responsibility to understand a speaker without the speaker’s being direct or specific [S]assuru: an assumption that a listener should anticipate a speaker’s meaning by paying attention to subtle cues The principle of politeness: an assumption of politeness is generally universal across cultures; however, differences exist concerning how politeness is defined, expressed, and honored. Gender Influences –studies on gender differences in regard to language use tend to be contradictory … generally women use more polite language than men …… Recent studies suggest women are not necessarily more indirect speakers than men and that politeness and indirectness in speech may be more a function of one’s perceived power or powerlessness than one’s gender. Copyright ©2011, 2008, 2005 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

14 Disconfirmation and Confirmation
Ignoring the other person’s presence and communication Confirmation Acknowledging the other person’s presence and attending to his/her communication Confirmation and disconfirmation refer to the extent to which you acknowledge another person. Disconfirmation is a communication pattern in which you ignore someone’s presence as well as that person’s communication – you deny a person’s significance; disconfirmation is not the same as rejection, which entails acknowledgement of the other but an unwillingness to accept what he or she says or does. Confirmation is the opposite communication pattern – you acknowledge the presence of another and indicate your acceptance of this person, this person’s definition of self, and your relationship as defined (or viewed) by this other person. Copyright ©2011, 2008, 2005 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

15 Disconfirmation and Confirmation cont…
Acknowledge presence and contribution of other Make nonverbal contact Demonstrate understanding of words and feelings Ask questions Encourage expression of thoughts and feelings Disconfirmation Ignore presence and indifferent to messages Make no nonverbal contact Jump to interpret and evaluate messages Talk about self Interrupts; make it hard for other’s expression Copyright ©2011, 2008, 2005 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

16 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Racism Sexism Sexual Harassment Heterosexism (Hetero-normative) Ageism Ableism How is offensive language disconfirmation?

17 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Racism – language and actions used to disparage members of other cultures, their customs, or their accomplishments and to establish and maintain power over other groups. Racist language can often be subtle and imply racial factors are important to a context when they, in fact, are not, such as using racial markers (“the African-American judge”) that emphasize that the combination of race and occupation is rare and unexpected that this member of the race is an exception Individual racism takes the form of negative attitudes and beliefs that people hold about specific races - includes de facto school segregation and discriminatory practices in lending, hiring, and promotion Consider whether you do the following: avoid using derogatory terms for members of a particular race avoid basing your interactions with members of other races on media stereotypes avoid mentioning race when it is irrelevant avoid attributing individuals’ economic or social problems to race How is offensive language disconfirmation? Racism

18 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Heterosexism – language and actions used to disparage gays and lesbians; language and actions that presume all people are heterosexual. Individual heterosexism refers to attitudes, behaviors, and language that disparages lesbians and gay men and is grounded in the belief that not being heterosexual is unnatural and deserving of criticism and condemnation. Institutional heterosexism is evidenced in laws that discriminate against gay marriage and gay adoption and company policies that exclude partner benefits to non-heterosexuals Heterosexist language includes derogatory terms used for lesbians and gays, the use of identity markers (such as “lesbian doctor” or “gay athlete”), and using language that assumes everyone is heterosexual. Suggestions for avoiding heterosexist language include: avoid offensive nonverbal mannerisms that parody stereotypes avoid “complimenting” gays & lesbians on their heterosexual appearance avoid assuming an individual gay person can speak for all gay people avoid denying individual differences; not all gays act or think the same avoid attributing a person’s actions, words, attitudes solely to sexual orientation How is offensive language disconfirmation? Heterosexism

19 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Sexism – discrimination based on gender Individual sexism involves prejudicial attitudes and beliefs about men or women based on rigid beliefs concerning gender roles (e.g., women should be caregivers, men should be breadwinners) Institutional sexism is evidenced in customs and practices that lead to discrimination between the sexes (e.g., paying women less for the same work as a man, excluding women from advancing to top management positions, and child custody laws that favor mothers or fathers) Sexist language examples include: using the word “man” generically to denote all of humankind; emphasizes “maleness” at the expense of “femaleness” using of the masculine pronoun (he and his) to refer to any individual regardless of sex using sex-role stereotyping, that is assuming that certain roles or professions belong to men and others belong to women How is offensive language disconfirmation? Sexism

20 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Sexual Harassment – behavior that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Two general categories of sexual harassment have been identified: quid pro quo harassment involves offering “something for something” usually the offer of advancement for sexual favors or the threat of dismissal if sexual favors are not granted hostile environment harassment includes all sexual behaviors (verbal and nonverbal) that make a worker uncomfortable. Hostile work environments are created through the telling of explicit sexual jokes, the posting of explicitly sexual material in common work areas, and the use of derogatory or demeaning language with sexual overtones. How is offensive language disconfirmation? Sexual Harassment

21 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Ageism – discrimination based on age; usually signifies discrimination against the old and against aging, but can refer to any age group. Individual ageism refers to attitudes, behaviors, and language that shows disrespect for a certain age groups (generally older people) Institutional ageism is evidenced in mandatory retirement laws, discriminatory practices in hiring and promotion, and negative portrayals of older people in media Popular language is replete with examples of linguistic ageism (e.g., ”You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”) Ageism is also exemplified by talking down to older people, avoiding touching older people, and avoiding eye contact with older people, and assuming one has to speak louder and slower for older people to understand How is offensive language disconfirmation? Ageism

22 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Suggestions for avoiding ageism and ageist language include: avoid talking down to someone because she or he is older don’t assume you have to refresh older people’s memory each time you see them don’t assume older people are not interested in relationships don’t assume all older people are hard or hearing or unable to see don’t assume older people are not interested in the world around them Suggestions for adjusting your communication with older people include: reduce as much background noise as you can ease into the conversation and avoid changing topics too quickly speak in relatively short sentences and questions How is offensive language disconfirmation? Ageism

23 How is offensive language disconfirmation?
Ableism – discrimination against people with disabilities and the assumption that people with different abilities need to be talked down to or not included in certain conversations Recommendations for communicating with people who are deaf (pg. 64) … blind (pg. 10) … with speech/language disorders (pg. 133) Discussion Question – divide into groups and discuss: Have you ever been guilty of sexist, racist, heterosexist, or ageist language? What steps can you take in the future to avoid such language? What do you do when you hear offensive language – at work, at school, with friends, with family? Do you respond differently depending on the context? How? How is offensive language disconfirmation? Ableism

24 What are preferred cultural identifiers?
Preferred terms used in talking to and about members of different cultures; language that is free of sexism, heterosexism, racism, or ageism. Preferred cultural identifiers are not constant and to ensure language is neutral and not offensive one should use cultural identifiers currently used by members of different groups. What are preferred cultural identifiers? How do they change based on context, situation, interactants, etc.?

25 Principles for Using Verbal Messages Effectively
Avoid intensional orientation Avoid allness Avoid indiscrimination Avoid polarization Avoid static evaluation Distinguish between facts and inferences Messages Symbolize Reality (Partially) – while verbal messages may describe objects, people and events, they do so with varying degrees of accuracy. Verbal messages are maps of reality; they are not the territory, the reality itself. Intensional Orientation: Viewing people, objects, or events in the way they are talked about or pre-labeled Similar to creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, such as labeling someone as “boring” and then discovering indeed he or she is boring. Extensional Orientation: Look first at the actual people, objects, or events and then apply labels

26 Word Barriers Allness Lack of precision Bypassing
Allness: Overgeneralizing meaning Allness is the tendency to use language to make unqualified, often untrue generalizations. For example, “All women are poor drivers.” Avoid by reminding yourself that your use and interpretation of a word is unique, and by qualifying statements with the words “to me.” (“Curfews for teenagers seem ridiculous to me.”) Indexing is avoiding generalizations by using statements that separate one situation, person, or example from another..

27 Word Barriers Allness Lack of precision Bypassing
Bypassing is confusion caused by the same words meaning different things to different people. Lack of precision: uncertain meaning Lack of clarity may be created through improper or imprecise use of words. A malapropism is a confusion of one word or phrase for another that sounds similar to it. Other imprecisions include using words out of context, using inappropriate grammar, or putting words in the wrong order. For most communication, the object is to be as specific and concrete as possible. You are being too precise if you use a restricted code—words that have a particular meaning to a person, group, or culture—in a group which does not understand it. Jargon is the use of specialized terms or abbreviations whose meanings are only known to a specific group.

28 Word Barriers Bypassing Lack of precision Allness Static evaluation
Polarization Indiscrimination Static evaluation: Rigid meaning Static evaluation is a pronouncement that does not take the possibility of change into consideration. To avoid, date your observations and indicate the time period from which you draw your observations Polarization: Extreme meaning is the language of extremes that describes and evaluates what you observe in terms of good or bad, old or new, beautiful or ugly. By describing things in extremes, and leaving out the middle ground, your language does not accurately reflect reality. The tendency to see things from an either/or point of view is a classic symptom of a troubled relationship. Indiscrimination: Failure to distinguish between similar but different people Solution: See the individual apart from the group

29 Messages Express Both Facts and Inferences – effective communicators work to distinguish between facts (descriptions of observable phenomenon) and inferences (conclusions drawn from observations) From Table 4.3 Factual May be made only after observation Are limited to what is observed Can be made only by observer May be about only the past or present Are subject to verifiable standards Inferential May be made at any time and by anyone Go beyond what is observed May be about any time – past present or future Involve varying degrees of probability Are not subject to verifiable standards Fact-inference confusion To avoid the confusion, remember inferences are made when anyone presents “facts” A good rule of thumb: A fair factual statement is made by a person who describes what s/he observes and limits it to that information only. How good are you at distinguishing facts from inference? Base the answer on Test Yourself: “Can You Distinguish Fact from Inference?” What is the difference between statements of fact and inference? Why is it important to know? Copyright ©2011, 2008, 2005 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.


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