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The Dynamics of the Communication

 
 
 
Dynamics of the Communication Process

Conditions Hindering Effective Communication

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Communication between two people consists of transmitting and receiving. If both parties are performing both tasks effectively, there is good communication. This sounds very simple and obvious. In reality, it is difficult for most people to achieve. Communication is even difficult when concerned only with intellectual or cognitive content ─ explaining an idea or a theory, giving directions or instructions, delivering a message. Problems of vocabulary, colloquial expressions, semantic difficulties complicate transmitting. This makes reception more difficult. Even assuming efficient transmission, many people do not listen carefully enough to be efficient receivers anyway.

When people are personally involved, clear two-way communication is even more difficult because feelings and emotions are present. Most serious communication difficulties are due to feelings. Yet in personal interactions, feelings are the most important aspect of the communication. When people become deeply involved in a democratic relationship, communicating freely is very difficult.

Most of us need help in communicating effectively. Communication training is best accomplished in groups. Communication skills learned in groups may immediately be applied to two-party relationships.

Levels of Communication
To understand better the complexities of communication, let us look at the various levels on which communication may take place. There are at least four such levels.

1. Content, the factual material, the basic words themselves, or what one is talking about.

2. Feelings.
I may be talking about how to build a sailboat, a painting, or anything. If the subject is very important, I will very likely be experiencing some feelings - enthusiasm, pleasure, disgust, or whatever - as Iím transmitting. The feelings are a vital and important and I may not feel very important if these feelings are ignored or misunderstood.

3. Feelings about feelings (Fitts 1965¨b).
I may be talking about boat building, and feeling very enthusiastic, but I may also be embarrassed or ashamed of my enthusiasm. Or I may be angry with you, but also feel guilty or fearful about my anger. Feelings about feelings are an important aspect of communication and can create many problems in communication.

4. The fourth level pertains to the motivation involved, or what the transmitter is seeking. Why is s/he transmitting this message? What is the purpose, the reason, for her telling me this? What does the transmitter want, what is s/he up to, or seeking from me? I may be discussing boat building with you in an effort to impress you with my knowledge, or because I want to sell you something, or in an effort to get you to help me, or simply because you are my friend, and I want to share my pleasure with you.

Communication Skills
Transmission.
Everyone needs other people with whom to share themselves ─ their thoughts, ideas, feelings, experiences, problems, and needs. In order to share, they must transmit; everyone is a transmitter of some sort, good, bad, or indifferent. Efficient transmitters can share themselves, especially feelings, with other people freely and without static, distortion, or interference. Clear transmission facilitates clear reception.

Transmission is not sufficient when:
• transmitters are not aware of the messages they are sending,

• two or more different, and conflicting, messages are being sent,

• messages are transmitted in some code, or language which receivers do not understand,

• when real messages are disguised, expressed indirectly or hidden within messages, or

• transmitters communicate too much information.

Reception.
Clear reception of another's transmission occurs when the receiver can restate the full message to the transmitter's satisfaction. In radio communication the receiver will often respond with the phrase, "I read you loud and clear." Actually, this may or may not be the case. Transmitters may think their message clear, but they may not be communicating at all. They may be dealing with two different messages. This is true of much interpersonal communication, especially communicating feelings. The greatest difficulty is usually in the original reception.

A basic rule of communication is that it is not accomplished until checked out or confirmed. Most confirm critical messages; few bother to do this in ordinary communication. Confirming messages is relatively simple, if we make the effort.

Good reception requires concentrated effort and attention. This involves listening or thinking with the speaker instead of about them or about other things. Often, people do not really listen to each other. They interrupt each other or both talk at the same time. They think about other things, concentrate upon preparing their rebuttal or how they can "top" the other person. They are thinking about themselves. Or they are thinking about the other person (how boring, or how stupid, how they wish they would stop talking or some mannerism they displaying) to the point that they are unable to think with them. Thus, they do not receive the message very accurately.

Another difficulty in receiving is that many people try to go beyond the mere reception of the message. They are quite aware that when they communicate to others they often are seeking some specific response ─ sympathy, love, advice, or agreement ─ that exceeds simple reception. They realize that others are seeking specific responses also. Thus, they try to interpret or anticipate the other's demands and prepare their own responses accordingly. They feel that they must do more than simply understand or receive, but their efforts to go beyond this point disrupt their basic reception.

Receivers may complicate matters with their own problems. They may ignore, or be afraid of feelings to the point that they can only recognize or respond to content. Or they may be so concerned with making the right response or not letting themselves be manipulated, that they only attend to the transmitter's motives. Many individuals are poor receivers because they donít receive othersí transmissions at all levels. The preoccupation with content and motives prevents their getting very close to other people because this preoccupation prevents them from making contact with others' feelings.

Clear reception is difficult when people are transmitting messages in a variety of modes. Ways of transmitting can be condensed into two types: verbal and non-verbal. When people are together, there is always a great deal of non-verbal communication. When transmitters are unaware of non-verbal transmissions, verbal and non-verbal messages are contradictory, or when receivers ignore or misinterpret non-verbal signals, clarity of communication is lost.

Interpersonal communication is a complex and difficult task. Transmitting and receiving are difficult; these difficulties are complicated when risk enters the picture. Risk occurs particularly when transmitters are transmitting to and about receivers. Communication becomes more dangerous and threatening.

Whenever transmitting something that you are not comfortable with such as criticism, sexual attraction, love, anger, disgust, the task is more difficult. If you fears the receiver's reactions, clear transmission are even harder. If receivers demonstrate that they are very threatened, things become even more difficult.

Receiver's task when threatened may be even harder than the transmitter's. It is one thing for me to offer understanding and acceptance when you are talking about other things and people. It is something else when you start talking about me and about your feelings toward me ─ especially your negative ones. I may feel that I am under attack and that I must defend myself, or run away or retaliate by attacking you. How can I suspend these reactions and devote my energy to understanding you? Many relationships break down at this point. However, when individuals stay with it and continue their efforts to communicate, the results are often amazing. True caring and acceptance are generated by understanding and openness.

Facilitation.
When interpersonal communication between two people occurs in a third partyís presence, that third party can exert a strong influence as a help or hindrance. Third parties can be "facilitators" and assist both the transmitter and receiver to achieve clearer communication. They can stop the communication especially when there is a conflict. They can divert or distract the communication, for example, by changing the subject or by taking over the transmitter's role. Or they can restrict their role to spectator and hinder the communication; a passive audience may add to the frustration, anxiety, or embarrassment of awkward communication.

Facilitators can be an invaluable help facilitate communication between individuals and among groups.
The facilitator function is shared by all members in fully functioning groups.

1. Good Receiving Skills
This has a good modeling value for others. Good receivers can facilitate the immediate communication by sharing their own reception. For example, T (transmitter) is trying, unsuccessfully, to communicate with R (receiver). F (facilitator) says to R. "I hear T saying _____. Is this what you hear?" In addition, as a good receiver the facilitator can check with T.... "Do you mean _____?" Such assistance not only helps the communication to proceed more clearly, it also helps to relieve the tension and frustration which are developing in T and R.

2. Good Transmitting Skills
Again, the modeling effect is helpful. Facilitators must be good transmitters. If they receive T more accurately than R does, this is little help unless they can also transmit the message to R more clearly than T did. Thus, F serves as a kind of pinch-hitter for both T and R. Since one can learn through practice and coaching to be a better transmitter and receiver, one can also learn to be a facilitator. Functioning as a facilitator, in turn, helps to develop one's skills as a transmitter and receiver.

3. Ability to Encourage Transmitters and Receivers.
Communication often breaks down because participants are frustrated, anxious, and discouraged. They often say "to hell with it!" and give up. Good facilitators encourage participants to continue their efforts and not give up. Facilitators offer democratic involvement since they are willing to share some responsibility for communication without limiting the T or Rís freedom. This means that they care something about both parties and can accept the feelings of both. Facilitators offer to participate with understanding and openness, expressions of trust in both parties, their relationship, and the communication process.

4. Ability to Referee
Most people who are hung up on communication snags welcome a good facilitator. When F is accepted by both T and R, F can help by keeping them to the task and enforcing the rules. This can be accomplished through such contributions as: "I believe we have gotten off the subject." "T, you seem to be avoiding the question." "R, could you restate what you just said. I'm not sure you heard T correctly." "That sounds pretty fuzzy to me. Could you (T) restate it or clarify it?" "You're both saying that you're pretty mad right now, but will you keep trying?"