The art of communicating in different climates Essay

Being students we need to understand the role and process of communication. Communication is dynamic and subject to change depending on the situational context. It is important to understand the objective of starting a conversation and decide which way you wish to lead the discussion, which is a deciding factor on the role one wishes to play.

Quite often a lot of people miss the intended objective while communicating with someone, mainly due to a lack of insight into their mode of communication, and results in the loss of exact meaning and intent to communicate. Also, distractions act as barriers to effective communication viz., outside noise, internal noise, bias, race, e.t.c. As we get older, the barriers tend to become visible, and are neither easier to block nor harder to do away with. Hence, it is critical for every individual to reduce as much obstruction that may come in the way of proper communication with others.

Race and ethnicity is the core factor of intercultural communication within a system. In the world of professional communication, people exercise a lot of sensitivity and restraint when dealing with people hailing from different cultural environments, lest they lose opportunities.

As explained in the first chapter of ‘Fundamentals of Human Communication’ by DeFleur, communication as a discipline put forth by linear model is composed of five stages, of which the second stage is most crucial. “Encoding the intended message”, is often an unconscious process that deciphers any sign or symbols that other person is attempting to convey awkward sentence. As college students we are most likely to un-comprehend a message that is being conveyed to us because we have had the limited experience when compared to an older person.

As the first chapter aims to explain that ‘Encoding’ is a risky process, as many a time the  complete message is not always digested by the recipient. In this process, information is transferred in order to communicate into a form that can be sent and correctly decoded at the other end. Success in encoding depends partially on the ability to convey information with clarity and simplicity, but also on the ability to anticipate and eliminate sources of confusion e.g., cultural issues, mistaken assumptions, and missing information. A key part of this process is getting to know the audience: failure to understand who one is communicating with would end up in conveying messages that can be misunderstood.

Just as environment plays a role in our daily lives so does our personal communication disciplines. Each time we use discipline in our communication we leave an impression with others and simultaneously develop self-understanding. Not only do we leave impressions but we also ingest information that others leave.  Our response to either actions is what separates humans from animals as stated in chapter two in context to Clever Hans effect.

The lack of proper communication between two individuals result in what some would consider an animal like behavior. Examples of this animal like behavior include physical violence, verbal abuse, and isolation.  To prevent such occurrences it is important to continuously expand our knowledgebase in verbal and nonverbal communication.

In chapter three, the authors write:

The most frequently found relationship between verbal and nonverbal communication is a complementary one. That is, almost everything we say verbal is accompanied by nonverbal actions, expressions, and other behaviors that supplement or reinforce the meanings contained in our talk (DeFluer 67).

This symbiotic relationship between the two forms of communication is pertinent to our day to day life, as we understand it more we are able to control both our verbal and nonverbal messages and be able to adjust them with comfort to any situation we encounter.  This can be easily illustrated in the 20/20 episode titled “What would you Do/Racism in America” that was aired on ABC. This episode shows how actors that where vandalizing the vehicle, simultaneously interacted with the strangers and sprayed the car with paint to show their level of hatred/disgust.

“What would you Do/Racism in America” attempted to point out the way our communication is styled to other races through an experiment conducted at a park. Although the experiment did not have either a control or proper number of tests, the message of the episode was clearly heard.  The episode also points out that as students we must be aware of our actions and not just what we say because it will make others suspicious of you.

To indicate a few notable occurrences as observed by viewers: some pedestrians expressed fear when confronted with the other race because they were unfamiliar as to how they would react. Familiarizing ourselves with other race’s communication discipline will allow ourselves to be more confident in our word choices with no fear of negative consequences. While another observation reveals how both members of opposite race were frustrated with the way they communicated with one another. Afro-American vandalists were furious as to how some people judged them while Caucasian pedestrians were offended by their actions. Maintaining your frustration and keeping it hidden will result in better positive responses from others even if they should be of the same race.

As students we often rebel, just like the three actors in the park, and while doing so we at times show a different side of our personality that sometimes should stay hidden. Regardless of our individual differences, one thing that is common to all men/women is that we all have to make a decision at one point or the other. We are always faced with situations that call for us to make a choice among alternative word choices. At times, there are several alternatives before us and we have to make a choice. What do we do? At this stage, we are at a crossroad.

Essentially, when a man/woman is at a crossroad, he should ask himself why he/she should do what he wants to do. We should appreciate the fact that the decision we are about to make determines a lot of things. For instance, the next decision we are about to make might make or break us. We should also understand that since we do not live in an independent world, our verbal exchanges have effect on the people around us. In view of this, we should not just make decisions but seek to make a good one. If we are to make a meaningful decision or choice, we should therefore evaluate the choices that lie before us.

[1]             [1] Fundamentals of Human Communication, 3rd Edition, DeFleur, Kearney, Plax, and DeFleur, McGraw Hill (2005).