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SOCL 1115
We need to improve communication around
Ask any employee what they'd like to change
about their company, and you're likely to hear
"We need better communication around
Everyone around them nods in active
agreement. But what are they agreeing
about? What do they mean by this? It could
be any number of things. Probing people's
complaints about "poor communication" can
lead to the core issues that need attention
No one really understands my needs and
ideas. (issues of respect and listening skills)
Some of us are left out of information loops or
decision-making. (organizational structure
The organization has levels and divisions that
speak different languages (language barrier
issues, class/education boundary issues)
People work alone or can't converse during
Next time someone says "we need better
communication around here", ask them "Can
you give me an example of something that's
happened recently?"
Sending Messages
2 models of how we communicate
What does it mean "to communicate"? We
spend most of our waking hours trying to link
our internal reality with the external world.
We have developed hundreds of channels to
do this , yet our ability to achieve consistent
and perfect understanding is elusive. The
following pages start with the basics of how
human beings (try to) communicate with each
other through "signals", "messages", "signs,"
Shannon & Weaver's model
Think of a telephone or a radio:
A source (a person's mind, for instance)
generates a message,
A transmitter codes the message into a
physical signal (electrons, light or sound
waves, smoke signals).
This passes through a channel.
Noise may intervene.
Key points:
The model is linear, i.e communication is seen
as a transaction. Suggests there is a "sender"
and a "receiver" that some THING is "sent".
No feedback mechanism. Examples of
communications that have minimal feedback:
communication: TV, mass media.
Describes technical transfer aspects of
communication (Shannon was an engineer
working on reducing signal noise.) Although it
Noise is particularly useful concept for
understanding the affect of culture or conflict
on communication. In S & W's model, noise is
a physical disturbance in the signal (such as
static, a torn page in a magazine, glare,
channel overload).
Noise Cont.
"Noise" is now used to describe anything that
might distort or interrupt communication, for
Mental distraction--your attention is
Relationship between those who are
Language gap
Gerbner's model
Gerbner adds in the contextual elements of
perception, culture, the medium, and power
Person #1 perceives an event, "E". This
perception is filtered: (physical ability to
experience the event, personal and cultural
selective perceptions), and is therefore one
step removed from the original event ("E1").
Person #1 selects a channel to send the
message. ("Signal" or "S")
Key points:
1. Every person involved in the
communication has perceptions and filters
which structure how they send or receive a
2. A message is content PLUS form -- both
convey meaning.
Consider the differences in how
you declare "I love you"
over a private candlelight dinner
on the run as you dash out the door to work
writing it by hand on homemade paper
sending an email
spray painting it across a railroad overpass.
Or with a graphic in an email :-)
Furthermore, the model accounts for power
difference by noting that those with greater
access to various media have more options
and channels to send messages--they can
afford to pay a plane with an "I love you"
banner fly over the football stadium... (or
more seriously, the ability to put messages out
in national and international media).
Perception in Communication
In living our lives and communicating with
each other our perception of reality is less
important than reality itself. Some would
argue that there IS no ultimate reality, only
the illusion of our perceptions.
Our perceptions are influenced by:
physical elements -- what information your
eye or ear can actually take in, how your brain
processes it.
environmental elements -- what information is
out there to receive, its context.
learned elements -- culture, personality, habit:
what filters we use to select what we take in
and how we react to it
For example
Color blind people will not perceive "red" the
way as other people do. Those with normal
vision may physically see "red" similarly, but
will interpret it culturally:
red meaning "stop" or "anger" or
"excitement" or "in debt" (US)
red meaning "good fortune" (China)
red meaning your school's colors
Selective Attention
The world deluges us with sensory
information every second. Our mind produces
interpretations and models and perceptions a
mile a minute. To survive, we have to select
what information we attend to and what we
Information that attracts our
Sends out strong physical stimulus: contrast,
blinking, loudness, etc.
Elicits emotion -- TV dramas, memory aid:
when taking notes on an article, write your
emotional response to it
Is unexpected? (This may draw your attention
or conversely, you may miss it entirely with
your mind filling in the missing pieces you
expected to receive.)
Note how important your cultural filters will
be in determining the answers to these
questions--what hooks your emotions? What
is "normal" and what is "unexpected", etc.
Test yourself!
Here are some fun videos about attention and
Thank you