BUS 1105 – Business Communications Discussion Forum Unit 1

Examine the 8 Essential Components of Communication from the textbook:Source, Message, Channel, Receiver, Feedback, Environment, Context, InterferenceDefine each in your own words briefly by paraphrasing, not quoting what is in the textbook. Discuss and debate on what would occur if one of these elements was taken out of the process of communication. Highlight the missing element and discuss what its loss would mean to the process.


In this unit, you will gain a better understanding, from a business communication perspective, of how communication forms a part of your self-concept, helping you understand yourself and others, solve problems and learn new things, and build your career.  You will learn about the transactional and constructivist models of the communication process as well as the eight most widely recognized elements involved in the process of communication.  You will also learn to distinguish the four audience-based contexts of communication and will discover the challenges and responsibilities of the business communicator.

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Reading Assignment

McLean, S. (2010). Business Communication for Success. The Saylor Foundation. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

  • Read Chapter 1
  • You are also required to read the syllabus in its entirety as well as the academic integrity documents that can be found above Unit 1 of the course.

    Supplemental Readings (these readings are not required but are beneficial for an expanded knowledge base within this unit)

    1)    Dale Carnegie, the author of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, may have been one of the greatest communicators of the twentieth-century business world. The Dale Carnegie Institute focuses on giving people in business the opportunity to sharpen their skills and improve their performance in order to build positive, steady, and profitable results-


    2)    To communicate ethically, check your facts. FactCheck is a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.


    Video Resources

    EPM. (2019, April 23). The communication process explained [Video]. YouTube.

    Additional Resources for ENGL 1103, Business English
    Unit 1
    1) Read the National Commission on Writing’s findings about the importance of
    communication skills in business.
    2) Dale Carnegie, author of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People,
    may have been one of the greatest communicators of the twentieth-century
    business world. The Dale Carnegie Institute focuses on giving people in
    business the opportunity to sharpen their skills and improve their performance
    in order to build positive, steady, and profitable resultshttp://www.dalecarnegie.com
    3) To communicate ethically, check your facts. FactCheck is a nonpartisan project
    of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
    Unit 2
    1) The “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most
    famous speeches of all time. View it on video and read the text
    2) To learn more about being results oriented, visit the Web site of Stephen
    Covey, author of the best seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
    Unit 3
    1) Visit AllYouCanRead.com for a list of the top ten business magazines.
    2) Appearance counts. Read an article by communications expert Fran Lebo on
    enhancing the nonverbal aspects of your document.
    Unit 4
    1) The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University includes an area on e-mail
    2) The OWL at Purdue also includes pages on memo writing and a sample memo.
    3) Your online profile counts as much as your résumé.
    4) Read a Forbes article on “Ten Ways to Torpedo Your Sales Pitch.”
    Unit 5
    1) Oral communication skill is key to success in politics. Visit the C-SPAN Web
    site to watch and listen to speeches, interviews, and other public speaking
    2) The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress offers a wide variety of
    resources for understanding copyright law and how to avoid plagiarism.
    Unit 6
    1) Watch a YouTube video of a persuasive speech on becoming a hero.

    2) Read an informative article on negotiating face-to-face across cultures called
    “Cross-Cultural Face-Negotiation: An Analytical Overview” by Stella
    TingToomey, presented on April 15, 1992, at Simon Fraser University,
    3) Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides a guide to persuasive
    speaking strategies.
    4) This site from Western Washington University provides information about
    persuasive techniques and fallacies.
    Unit 7
    1) Visit ExpatExchange: A World of Friends Abroad to learn about the
    opportunities, experiences, and emotions of people living and working in
    foreign countries and cultures worldwide.
    2) Learn more about Geert Hofstede’s research on culture by exploring his Web


    Unit 8
    Read about groups and teams on the business Web site 1000 Ventures.
    Learn more about Tuckman’s linear model.
    Read a hands-on article about how to conduct productive meetings.
    Take a (nonscientific) quiz to identify your leadership style.
    This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative
    Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without
    attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
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    Business Communication for Success (BCS) provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to the
    study and application of written and oral business communication to serve both student and
    This series features chapters with the following elements:

    Learning Objectives

    Introductory Exercises

    Clear expectations, relevant background, and important theories

    Practical, real-world examples

    Key Takeaways or quick internal summaries

    Key terms that are easily identified

    In-chapter assignments

    Postchapter assessments linked to objectives and skills acquisition
    Each chapter is self-contained, allowing for mix-and-match flexibility and custom or course-specific
    design. Each chapter focuses on clear objectives and skill demonstrations that can be easily linked to
    your syllabus and state or federal requirements. Supported by internal and external assessments,
    each chapter features time-saving and learning-enhancement support for instructors and students.
    BCS is designed to help students identify important information, reinforce for retention, and
    demonstrate mastery with a clear outcome product.
    The text has three content categories:
    2. Process and products
    3. Contexts
    The first three chapters form the core foundation for the study of oral and written business
    communication. The next sequence of chapters focus on the process of writing, then oral
    performance with an emphasis on results. The final sequence focuses on contexts where business
    communication occurs, from interpersonal to intercultural, from groups to leadership.
    In each of the process and product chapter sequences, the chapters follow a natural flow, from
    prewriting to revision, from preparation for a presentation to performance. Each sequence comes
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    together in a concluding chapter that focuses on action—where we apply the skills and techniques of
    written or oral communication in business, from writing a letter to presenting a sales speech. These
    performances not only serve to reinforce real-world applications but also may serve as course
    assessments. All chapters are compartmentalized into sections so you can choose what you want to
    use and eliminate the rest.
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    Chapter 1
    Effective Business Communication
    Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual
    Rollo May
    I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure
    you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Robert J. McCloskey, former State Department spokesman
    Getting Started
    1. Write five words that express what you want to do and where you want to be a year
    from now. Take those five words and write a paragraph that clearly articulates your
    responses to both “what” and “where.”
    2. Think of five words that express what you want to do and where you want to be five
    years from now. Share your five words with your classmates and listen to their
    responses. What patterns do you observe in the responses? Write a paragraph that
    addresses at least one observation.
    Communication is an activity, skill, and art that incorporates lessons learned across a
    wide spectrum of human knowledge. Perhaps the most time-honored form of
    communication is storytelling. We’ve told each other stories for ages to help make sense
    of our world, anticipate the future, and certainly to entertain ourselves. The art of
    storytelling draws on your understanding of yourself, your message, and how you
    communicate it to an audience that is simultaneously communicating back to you. Your
    anticipation, reaction, and adaptation to the process will determine how successfully
    you are able to communicate. You were not born knowing how to write or even how to
    talk—but in the process of growing up, you have undoubtedly learned how to tell, and
    how not tell, a story out loud and in writing.
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    You didn’t learn to text in a day and didn’t learn all the codes—from LOL (laugh out
    loud) to BRB (be right back)—right away. In the same way, learning to communicate
    well requires you to read and study how others have expressed themselves, then adapt
    what you have learned to your present task—whether it is texting a brief message to a
    friend, presenting your qualifications in a job interview, or writing a business report.
    You come to this text with skills and an understanding that will provide a valuable
    foundation as we explore the communication process.
    Effective communication takes preparation, practice, and persistence. There are many
    ways to learn communication skills; the school of experience, or “hard knocks,” is one of
    them. But in the business environment, a “knock” (or lesson learned) may come at the
    expense of your credibility through a blown presentation to a client. The classroom
    environment, with a compilation of information and resources such as a text, can offer
    you a trial run where you get to try out new ideas and skills before you have to use them
    to communicate effectively to make a sale or form a new partnership. Listening to
    yourself, or perhaps the comments of others, may help you reflect on new ways to
    present, or perceive, thoughts, ideas and concepts. The net result is your growth;
    ultimately your ability to communicate in business will improve, opening more doors
    than you might anticipate.
    As you learn the material in this text, each part will contribute to the whole. The degree
    to which you attend to each part will ultimately help give you the skills, confidence, and
    preparation to use communication in furthering your career.
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    1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?
    1. Recognize the importance of communication in gaining a better understanding of
    yourself and others.
    2. Explain how communication skills help you solve problems, learn new things, and build
    your career.
    Communication is key to your success—in relationships, in the workplace, as a citizen of
    your country, and across your lifetime. Your ability to communicate comes from
    experience, and experience can be an effective teacher, but this text and the related
    business communication course will offer you a wealth of experiences gathered from
    professional speakers across their lifetimes. You can learn from the lessons they’ve
    learned and be a more effective communicator right out of the gate.
    Business communication can be thought of as a problem solving activity in which
    individuals may address the following questions:

    What is the situation?

    What are some possible communication strategies?

    What is the best course of action?

    What is the best way to design the chosen message?

    What is the best way to deliver the message?
    In this book, we will examine this problem solving process and help you learn to apply it
    in the kinds of situations you are likely to encounter over the course of your career.
    Communication Influences Your Thinking about Yourself and Others
    We all share a fundamental drive to communicate. Communication can be defined as
    the process of understanding and sharing meaning. [1] You share meaning in what you
    say and how you say it, both in oral and written forms. If you could not communicate,
    what would life be like? A series of never-ending frustrations? Not being able to ask for
    what you need or even to understand the needs of others?
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    Being unable to communicate might even mean losing a part of yourself, for you
    communicate your self-concept—your sense of self and awareness of who you are—in
    many ways. Do you like to write? Do you find it easy to make a phone call to a stranger
    or to speak to a room full of people? Perhaps someone told you that you don’t speak
    clearly or your grammar needs improvement. Does that make you more or less likely to
    want to communicate? For some, it may be a positive challenge, while for others it may
    be discouraging. But in all cases, your ability to communicate is central to your selfconcept.
    Take a look at your clothes. What are the brands you are wearing? What do you think
    they say about you? Do you feel that certain styles of shoes, jewelry, tattoos, music, or
    even automobiles express who you are? Part of your self-concept may be that you
    express yourself through texting, or through writing longer documents like essays and
    research papers, or through the way you speak.
    On the other side of the coin, your communications skills help you to understand
    others—not just their words, but also their tone of voice, their nonverbal gestures, or the
    format of their written documents provide you with clues about who they are and what
    their values and priorities may be. Active listening and reading are also part of being a
    successful communicator.
    Communication Influences How You Learn
    When you were an infant, you learned to talk over a period of many months. When you
    got older, you didn’t learn to ride a bike, drive a car, or even text a message on your cell
    phone in one brief moment. You need to begin the process of improving your speaking
    and writing with the frame of mind that it will require effort, persistence, and selfcorrection.
    You learn to speak in public by first having conversations, then by answering questions
    and expressing your opinions in class, and finally by preparing and delivering a “standup” speech. Similarly, you learn to write by first learning to read, then by writing and
    learning to think critically. Your speaking and writing are reflections of your thoughts,
    experience, and education. Part of that combination is your level of experience listening
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    to other speakers, reading documents and styles of writing, and studying formats similar
    to what you aim to produce.
    As you study business communication, you may receive suggestions for improvement
    and clarification from speakers and writers more experienced than yourself. Take their
    suggestions as challenges to improve; don’t give up when your first speech or first draft
    does not communicate the message you intend. Stick with it until you get it right. Your
    success in communicating is a skill that applies to almost every field of work, and it
    makes a difference in your relationships with others.
    Remember, luck is simply a combination of preparation and timing. You want to be
    prepared to communicate well when given the opportunity. Each time you do a good
    job, your success will bring more success.
    Communication Represents You and Your Employer
    You want to make a good first impression on your friends and family, instructors, and
    employer. They all want you to convey a positive image, as it reflects on them. In your
    career, you will represent your business or company in spoken and written form. Your
    professionalism and attention to detail will reflect positively on you and set you up for
    In both oral and written situations, you will benefit from having the ability to
    communicate clearly. These are skills you will use for the rest of your life. Positive
    improvements in these skills will have a positive impact on your relationships, your
    prospects for employment, and your ability to make a difference in the world.
    Communication Skills Are Desired by Business and Industry
    Oral and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top ten
    desirable skills by employer surveys year after year. In fact, high-powered business
    executives sometimes hire consultants to coach them in sharpening their
    communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and
    Employers, [2] the following are the top five personal qualities or skills potential
    employers seek:
    1. Communication skills (verbal and written)
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    2. Strong work ethic
    3. Teamwork skills (works well with others, group communication)
    4. Initiative
    5. Analytical skills
    Knowing this, you can see that one way for you to be successful and increase your
    promotion potential is to increase your abilities to speak and write effectively.
    In September 2004, the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families,
    Schools, and Colleges published a study on 120 human resource directors
    titled Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. [3] The
    study found that “writing is both a ‘marker’ of high-skill, high-wage, professional work
    and a ‘gatekeeper’ with clear equity implications,” said Bob Kerrey, president of New
    School University in New York and chair of the commission. “People unable to express
    themselves clearly in writing limit their opportunities for professional, salaried
    employment.” [4]
    On the other end of the spectrum, it is estimated that over forty million Americans are
    illiterate, or unable to functionally read or write. If you are reading this book, you may
    not be part of an at-risk group in need of basic skill development, but you still may need
    additional training and practice as you raise your skill level.
    An individual with excellent communication skills is an asset to every organization. No
    matter what career you plan to pursue, learning to express yourself professionally in
    speech and in writing will help you get there.
    Communication forms a part of your self-concept, and it helps you understand yourself
    and others, solve problems and learn new things, and build your career.
    1. Imagine that you have been hired to make “cold calls” to ask people whether they are
    familiar with a new restaurant that has just opened in your neighborhood. Write a script
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    for the phone call. Ask a classmate to copresent as you deliver the script orally in class,
    as if you were making a phone call to the classmate. Discuss your experience with the
    rest of the class.
    2. Imagine you have been assigned the task of creating a job description. Identify a job,
    locate at least two sample job descriptions, and create one. Please present the job
    description to the class and note to what degree communication skills play a role in the
    tasks or duties you have included.
    [1] Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: understanding
    and sharing (p. 6). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
    [2] National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2009). Frequently asked questions.
    Retrieved from http://www.naceweb.org/Press/Frequently_Asked_Questions.aspx?referal=
    [3] National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges. (2004,
    September). Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. Retrieved
    [4] The College Board. (2004, September). Writing skills necessary for employment, says big
    business: Writing can be a ticket to professional jobs, says blue-ribbon group. Retrieved
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    1.2 What Is Communication?
    1. Define communication and describe communication as a process.
    2. Identify and describe the eight essential components of communication.
    3. Identify and describe two models of communication.
    Many theories have been proposed to describe, predict, and understand the behaviors
    and phenomena of which communication consists. When it comes to communicating in
    business, we are often less interested in theory than in making sure our communications
    generate the desired results. But in order to achieve results, it can be valuable to
    understand what communication is and how it works.
    Defining Communication
    The root of the word “communication” in Latin is communicare, which means to share,
    or to make common. [1] Communication is defined as the process of understanding and
    sharing meaning. [2]
    At the center of our study of communication is the relationship that involves interaction
    between participants. This definition serves us well with its emphasis on the process,
    which we’ll examine in depth across this text, of coming to understand and share
    another’s point of view effectively.
    The first key word in this definition is process. A process is a dynamic activity that is
    hard to describe because it changes. [3] Imagine you are alone in your kitchen thinking.
    Someone you know (say, your mother) enters the kitchen and you talk briefly. What has
    changed? Now, imagine that your mother is joined by someone else, someone you
    haven’t met before—and this stranger listens intently as you speak, almost as if you were
    giving a speech. What has changed? Your perspective might change, and you might
    watch your words more closely. The feedback or response from your mother and the
    stranger (who are, in essence, your audience) may cause you to reevaluate what you are
    saying. When we interact, all these factors—and many more—influence the process of
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    The second key word is understanding: “To understand is to perceive, to interpret, and
    to relate our perception and interpretation to what we already know.” [4] If a friend tells
    you a story about falling off a bike, what image comes to mind? Now your friend points
    out the window and you see a motorcycle lying on the ground. Understanding the words
    and the concepts or objects they refer to is an important part of the communication
    Next comes the word sharing. Sharing means doing something together with one or
    more people. You may share a joint activity, as when you share in compiling a report; or
    you may benefit jointly from a resource, as when you and several coworkers share a
    pizza. In communication, sharing occurs when you convey thoughts, feelings, ideas, or
    insights to others. You can also share with yourself (a process called intrapersonal
    communication) when you bring ideas to consciousness, ponder how you feel about
    something, or figure out the solution to a problem and have a classic “Aha!” moment
    when something becomes clear.
    Finally, meaning is what we share through communication. The word “bike” represents
    both a bicycle and a short name for a motorcycle. By looking at the context the word is
    used in and by asking questions, we can discover the shared meaning of the word and
    understand the message.
    Eight Essential Components of Communication
    In order to better understand the communication process, we can break it down into a
    series of eight essential components:
    1. Source
    2. Message
    3. Channel
    4. Receiver
    5. Feedback
    6. Environment
    7. Context
    8. Interference
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    Each of these eight components serves an integral function in the overall process. Let’s
    explore them one by one.
    The source imagines, creates, and sends the message. In a public speaking situation, the
    source is the person giving the speech. He or she conveys the message by sharing new
    information with the audience. The speaker also conveys a message through his or her
    tone of voice, body language, and choice of clothing. The speaker begins by first
    determining the message—what to say and how to say it. The second step involves
    encoding the message by choosing just the right order or the perfect words to convey the
    intended meaning. The third step is to present or send the information to the receiver or
    audience. Finally, by watching for the audience’s reaction, the source perceives how well
    they received the message and responds with clarification or supporting information.
    “The message is the stimulus or meaning produced by the source for the receiver or
    audience.” [5] When you plan to give a speech or write a report, your message may seem
    to be only the words you choose that will convey your meaning. But that is just the
    beginning. The words are brought together with grammar and organization. You may
    choose to save your most important point for last. The message also consists of the way
    you say it—in a speech, with your tone of voice, your body language, and your
    appearance—and in a report, with your writing style, punctuation, and the headings and
    formatting you choose. In addition, part of the message may be the environment or
    context you present it in and the noise that might make your message hard to hear or
    Imagine, for example, that you are addressing a large audience of sales reps and are
    aware there is a World Series game tonight. Your audience might have a hard time
    settling down, but you may choose to open with, “I understand there is an important
    game tonight.” In this way, by expressing verbally something that most people in your
    audience are aware of and interested in, you might grasp and focus their attention.
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    “The channel is the way in which a message or messages travel between source and
    receiver.” [6] For example, think of your television. How many channels do you have on
    your television? Each channel takes up some space, even in a digital world, in the cable
    or in the signal that brings the message of each channel to your home. Television
    combines an audio signal you hear with a visual signal you see. Together they convey the
    message to the receiver or audience. Turn off the volume on your television. Can you
    still understand what is happening? Many times you can, because the body language
    conveys part of the message of the show. Now turn up the volume but turn around so
    that you cannot see the television. You can still hear the dialogue and follow the story
    Similarly, when you speak or write, you are using a channel to convey your message.
    Spoken channels include face-to-face conversations, speeches, telephone conversations
    and voice mail messages, radio, public address systems, and voice over Internet protocol
    (VoIP). Written channels include letters, memorandums, purchase orders, invoices,
    newspaper and magazine articles, blogs, e-mail, text messages, tweets, and so forth.
    “The receiver receives the message from the source, analyzing and interpreting the
    message in ways both intended and unintended by the source.” [7] To better understand
    this component, think of a receiver on a football team. The quarterback throws the
    football (message) to a receiver, who must see and interpret where to catch the ball. The
    quarterback may intend for the receiver to “catch” his message in one way, but the
    receiver may see things differently and miss the football (the intended meaning)
    As a receiver you listen, see, touch, smell, and/or taste to receive a message. Your
    audience “sizes you up,” much as you might check them out long before you take the
    stage or open your mouth. The nonverbal responses of your listeners can serve as clues
    on how to adjust your opening. By imagining yourself in their place, you anticipate what
    you would look for if you were them. Just as a quarterback plans where the receiver will
    be in order to place the ball correctly, you too can recognize the interaction between
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    source and receiver in a business communication context. All of this happens at the
    same time, illustrating why and how communication is always changing.
    When you respond to the source, intentionally or unintentionally, you are giving
    feedback.Feedback is composed of messages the receiver sends back to the source.
    Verbal or nonverbal, all these feedback signals allow the source to see how well, how
    accurately (or how poorly and inaccurately) the message was received. Feedback also
    provides an opportunity for the receiver or audience to ask for clarification, to agree or
    disagree, or to indicate that the source could make the message more interesting. As the
    amount of feedback increases, the accuracy of communication also increases. [8]
    For example, suppose you are a sales manager participating in a conference call with
    four sales reps. As the source, you want to tell the reps to take advantage of the fact that
    it is World Series season to close sales on baseball-related sports gear. You state your
    message, but you hear no replies from your listeners. You might assume that this means
    they understood and agreed with you, but later in the month you might be disappointed
    to find that very few sales were made. If you followed up your message with a request for
    feedback (“Does this make sense? Do any of you have any questions?”) you might have
    an opportunity to clarify your message, and to find out whether any of the sales reps
    believed your suggestion would not work with their customers.
    “The environment is the atmosphere, physical and psychological, where you send and
    receive messages.” [9] The environment can include the tables, chairs, lighting, and
    sound equipment that are in the room. The room itself is an example of the
    environment. The environment can also include factors like formal dress, that may
    indicate whether a discussion is open and caring or more professional and formal.
    People may be more likely to have an intimate conversation when they are physically
    close to each other, and less likely when they can only see each other from across the
    room. In that case, they may text each other, itself an intimate form of communication.
    The choice to text is influenced by the environment. As a speaker, your environment will
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    impact and play a role in your speech. It’s always a good idea to go check out where
    you’ll be speaking before the day of the actual presentation.
    “The context of the communication interaction involves the setting, scene, and
    expectations of the individuals involved.” [10] A professional communication context may
    involve business suits (environmental cues) that directly or indirectly influence
    expectations of language and behavior among the participants.
    A presentation or discussion does not take place as an isolated event. When you came to
    class, you came from somewhere. So did the person seated next to you, as did the
    instructor. The degree to which the environment is formal or informal depends on the
    contextual expectations for communication held by the participants. The person sitting
    next to you may be used to informal communication with instructors, but this particular
    instructor may be used to verbal and nonverbal displays of respect in the academic
    environment. You may be used to formal interactions with instructors as well, and find
    your classmate’s question of “Hey Teacher, do we have homework today?” as rude and
    inconsiderate when they see it as normal. The nonverbal response from the instructor
    will certainly give you a clue about how they perceive the interaction, both the word
    choices and how they were said.
    Context is all about what people expect from each other, and we often create those
    expectations out of environmental cues. Traditional gatherings like weddings or
    quinceañeras are often formal events. There is a time for quiet social greetings, a time
    for silence as the bride walks down the aisle, or the father may have the first dance with
    his daughter as she is transformed from a girl to womanhood in the eyes of her
    community. In either celebration there may come a time for rambunctious celebration
    and dancing. You may be called upon to give a toast, and the wedding or quinceañera
    context will influence your presentation, timing, and effectiveness.
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    In a business meeting, who speaks first? That probably has some relation to the position
    and role each person has outside the meeting. Context plays a very important role in
    communication, particularly across cultures.
    Interference, also called noise, can come from any source. “Interference is anything that
    blocks or changes the source’s intended meaning of the message.” [11] For example, if you
    drove a car to work or school, chances are you were surrounded by noise. Car horns,
    billboards, or perhaps the radio in your car interrupted your thoughts, or your
    conversation with a passenger.
    Psychological noise is what happens when your thoughts occupy your attention while
    you are hearing, or reading, a message. Imagine that it is 4:45 p.m. and your boss, who
    is at a meeting in another city, e-mails you asking for last month’s sales figures, an
    analysis of current sales projections, and the sales figures from the same month for the
    past five years. You may open the e-mail, start to read, and think, “Great—no problem—I
    have those figures and that analysis right here in my computer.” You fire off a reply with
    last month’s sales figures and the current projections attached. Then, at five o’clock, you
    turn off your computer and go home. The next morning, your boss calls on the phone to
    tell you he was inconvenienced because you neglected to include the sales figures from
    the previous years. What was the problem? Interference: by thinking about how you
    wanted to respond to your boss’s message, you prevented yourself from reading
    attentively enough to understand the whole message.
    Interference can come from other sources, too. Perhaps you are hungry, and your
    attention to your current situation interferes with your ability to listen. Maybe the office
    is hot and stuffy. If you were a member of an audience listening to an executive speech,
    how could this impact your ability to listen and participate?
    Noise interferes with normal encoding and decoding of the message carried by the
    channel between source and receiver. Not all noise is bad, but noise interferes with the
    communication process. For example, your cell phone ringtone may be a welcome noise
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    to you, but it may interrupt the communication process in class and bother your
    Two Models of Communication
    Researchers have observed that when communication takes place, the source and the
    receiver may send messages at the same time, often overlapping. You, as the speaker,
    will often play both roles, as source and receiver. You’ll focus on the communication and
    the reception of your messages to the audience. The audience will respond in the form of
    feedback that will give you important clues. While there are many models of
    communication, here we will focus on two that offer perspectives and lessons for
    business communicators.
    Rather than looking at the source sending a message and someone receiving it as two
    distinct acts, researchers often view communication as a transactional process (Figure
    1.3 “Transactional Model of Communication”), with actions often happening at the same
    time. The distinction between source and receiver is blurred in conversational turntaking, for example, where both participants play both roles simultaneously.
    Figure 1.3 Transactional Model of Communication
    Researchers have also examined the idea that we all construct our own interpretations
    of the message. As the State Department quote at the beginning of this chapter
    indicates, what I said and what you heard may be different. In the constructivist model
    (Figure 1.4 “Constructivist Model of Communication”), we focus on the negotiated
    meaning, or common ground, when trying to describe communication. [12], [13]
    Imagine that you are visiting Atlanta, Georgia, and go to a restaurant for dinner. When
    asked if you want a “Coke,” you may reply, “sure.” The waiter may then ask you again,
    “what kind?” and you may reply, “Coke is fine.” The waiter then may ask a third time,
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    “what kind of soft drink would you like?” The misunderstanding in this example is that
    in Atlanta, the home of the Coca-Cola Company, most soft drinks are generically
    referred to as “Coke.” When you order a soft drink, you need to specify what type, even if
    you wish to order a beverage that is not a cola or not even made by the Coca-Cola
    Company. To someone from other regions of the United States, the words “pop,” “soda
    pop,” or “soda” may be the familiar way to refer to a soft drink; not necessarily the brand
    “Coke.” In this example, both you and the waiter understand the word “Coke,” but you
    each understand it to mean something different. In order to communicate, you must
    each realize what the term means to the other person, and establish common ground, in
    order to fully understand the request and provide an answer.
    Figure 1.4 Constructivist Model of Communication
    Because we carry the multiple meanings of words, gestures, and ideas within us, we can
    use a dictionary to guide us, but we will still need to negotiate meaning.
    The communication process involves understanding, sharing, and meaning, and it
    consists of eight essential elements: source, message, channel, receiver, feedback,
    environment, context, and interference. Among the models of communication are the
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    transactional process, in which actions happen simultaneously, and the constructivist
    model, which focuses on shared meaning.
    1. Draw what you think communication looks like. Share your drawing with your
    2. List three environmental cues and indicate how they influence your expectations for
    communication. Please share your results with your classmates.
    3. How does context influence your communication? Consider the language and culture
    people grew up with, and the role these play in communication styles.
    4. If you could design the perfect date, what activities, places, and/or environmental cues
    would you include to set the mood? Please share your results with your classmates.
    5. Observe two people talking. Describe their communication. See if you can find all eight
    components and provide an example for each one.
    6. What assumptions are present in transactional model of communication? Find an
    example of a model of communication in your workplace or classroom, and provide an
    example for all eight components.
    [1] Weekley, E. (1967). An etymological dictionary of modern English (Vol. 1, p. 338). New York,
    NY: Dover Publications.
    [2] Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: Understanding
    and sharing (p. 6). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
    [3] Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: Understanding
    and sharing. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
    [4] McLean, S. (2003). The basics of speech communication. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
    [5] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 10). Boston, MA: Allyn &
    [6] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 10). Boston, MA: Allyn &
    Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books
    [7] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 10). Boston, MA: Allyn &
    [8] Leavitt, H., & Mueller, R. (1951). Some effects of feedback on communication. Human
    Relations, 4, 401–410.
    [9] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 11). Boston, MA: Allyn &
    [10] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p.11). Boston, MA: Allyn &
    [11] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 11). Boston, MA: Allyn &
    [12] Pearce, W. B., & Cronen, V. (1980). Communication, action, and meaning: The creating of
    social realities. New York, NY: Praeger.
    [13] Cronen, V., & Pearce, W. B. (1982). The coordinated management of meaning: A theory of
    communication. In F. E. Dance (Ed.), Human communication theory (pp. 61–89). New York, NY:
    Harper & Row.
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    1.3 Communication in Context
    1. Identify and describe five types of communication contexts.
    Now that we have examined the eight components of communication, let’s examine this
    in context. Is a quiet dinner conversation with someone you care about the same
    experience as a discussion in class or giving a speech? Is sending a text message to a
    friend the same experience as writing a professional project proposal or a purchase
    order? Each context has an influence on the communication process. Contexts can
    overlap, creating an even more dynamic process. You have been communicating in
    many of these contexts across your lifetime, and you’ll be able to apply what you’ve
    learned through experience in each context to business communication.
    Intrapersonal Communication
    Have you ever listened to a speech or lecture and gotten caught up in your thoughts so
    that, while the speaker continued, you were no longer listening? During a phone
    conversation, have you ever been thinking about what you are going to say, or what
    question you might ask, instead of listening to the other person? Finally, have you ever
    told yourself how you did after you wrote a document or gave a presentation? As you
    “talk with yourself” you are engaged in intrapersonal communication.
    Intrapersonal communication involves one person; it is often called “self-talk.” [1]Donna
    Vocate’s [2] book on intrapersonal communication explains how, as we use language to
    reflect on our own experiences, we talk ourselves through situations. For example, the
    voice within you that tells you, “Keep on Going! I can DO IT!” when you are putting your
    all into completing a five-mile race; or that says, “This report I’ve written is pretty good.”
    Your intrapersonal communication can be positive or negative, and directly influences
    how you perceive and react to situations and communication with others.
    What you perceive in communication with others is also influenced by your culture,
    native language, and your world view. As the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas
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    said, “Every process of reaching understanding takes place against the background of a
    culturally ingrained preunderstanding.” [3]
    For example, you may have certain expectations of time and punctuality. You weren’t
    born with them, so where did you learn them? From those around you as you grew up.
    What was normal for them became normal for you, but not everyone’s idea of normal is
    the same.
    When your supervisor invites you to a meeting and says it will start at 7 p.m., does that
    mean 7:00 sharp, 7-ish, or even 7:30? In the business context, when a meeting is
    supposed to start at 9 a.m., is it promptly a 9 a.m.? Variations in time expectations
    depend on regional and national culture as well as individual corporate cultures. In
    some companies, everyone may be expected to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the
    announced start time to take their seats and be ready to commence business at 9:00
    sharp. In other companies, “meeting and greeting” from about 9 to 9:05 or even 9:10 is
    the norm. When you are unfamiliar with the expectations for a business event, it is
    always wise to err on the side of being punctual, regardless of what your internal
    assumptions about time and punctuality may be.
    Interpersonal Communication
    The second major context within the field of communication is interpersonal
    communication.Interpersonal communication normally involves two people, and can
    range from intimate and very personal to formal and impersonal. You may carry on a
    conversation with a loved one, sharing a serious concern. Later, at work, you may have a
    brief conversation about plans for the weekend with the security guard on your way
    home. What’s the difference? Both scenarios involve interpersonal communication, but
    are different in levels of intimacy. The first example implies a trusting relationship
    established over time between two caring individuals. The second example level implies
    some previous familiarity, and is really more about acknowledging each other than any
    actual exchange of information, much like saying hello or goodbye.
    Group Communication
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    Have you ever noticed how a small group of people in class sit near each other? Perhaps
    they are members of the same sports program, or just friends, but no doubt they often
    engage in group communication.
    “Group communication is a dynamic process where a small number of people engage in
    a conversation.” [4] Group communication is generally defined as involving three to eight
    people. The larger the group, the more likely it is to break down into smaller groups.
    To take a page from marketing, does your audience have segments or any points of
    convergence/divergence? We could consider factors like age, education, sex, and
    location to learn more about groups and their general preferences as well as dislikes.
    You may find several groups within the larger audience, such as specific areas of
    education, and use this knowledge to increase your effectiveness as a business
    Public Communication
    In public communication, one person speaks to a group of people; the same is true of
    public written communication, where one person writes a message to be read by a small
    or large group. The speaker or writer may ask questions, and engage the audience in a
    discussion (in writing, examples are an e-mail discussion or a point-counter-point series
    of letters to the editor), but the dynamics of the conversation are distinct from group
    communication, where different rules apply. In a public speaking situation, the group
    normally defers to the speaker. For example, the boss speaks to everyone, and the sales
    team quietly listens without interruption.
    This generalization is changing as norms and expectations change, and many cultures
    have a tradition of “call outs” or interjections that are not to be interpreted as
    interruptions or competition for the floor, but instead as affirmations. The boss may say,
    as part of a charged-up motivational speech, “Do you hear me?” and the sales team is
    expected to call back “Yes Sir!” The boss, as a public speaker, recognizes that
    intrapersonal communication (thoughts of the individual members) or interpersonal
    communication (communication between team members) may interfere with this classic
    public speaking dynamic of all to one, or the audience devoting all its attention to the
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    speaker, and incorporate attention getting and engagement strategies to keep the sales
    team focused on the message.
    Mass Communication
    How do you tell everyone on campus where and when all the classes are held? Would a
    speech from the front steps work? Perhaps it might meet the need if your school is a
    very small one. A written schedule that lists all classes would be a better alternative.
    How do you let everyone know there is a sale on in your store, or that your new product
    will meet their needs, or that your position on a political issue is the same as your
    constituents? You send a message to as many people as you can through mass
    communication. Does everyone receive mass communication the same way the might
    receive a personal phone call? Not likely. Some people who receive mass mailings
    assume that they are “junk mail” (i.e., that they do not meet the recipients’ needs) and
    throw them away unopened. People may tune out a television advertisement with a click
    of the mute button, delete tweets or ignore friend requests on Facebook by the
    hundreds, or send all unsolicited e-mail straight to the spam folder unread.
    Mass media is a powerful force in modern society and our daily lives, and is adapting
    rapidly to new technologies. Mass communication involves sending a single message to
    a group. It allows us to communicate our message to a large number of people, but we
    are limited in our ability to tailor our message to specific audiences, groups, or
    individuals. As a business communicator, you can use multimedia as a visual aid or
    reference common programs, films, or other images that your audience finds familiar
    yet engaging. You can tweet a picture that is worth far more than 140 characters, and
    you are just as likely to elicit a significant response. By choosing messages or references
    that many audience members will recognize or can identify with, you can develop
    common ground and increase the appeal of your message.
    Communication contexts include intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, public, and
    mass communication. Each context has its advantages and disadvantages, and its
    appropriate and inappropriate uses.
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    1. Please recall a time when you gave a speech in front of a group. How did you feel?
    What was your experience? What did you learn from your experience?
    2. If you were asked to get the attention of your peers, what image or word would
    you choose and why?
    3. If you were asked to get the attention of someone like yourself, what image or
    word would you choose and why?
    4. Make a list of mass communication messages you observe for a one hour period of
    time. Share your list with classmates.
    [1] Wood, J. (1997). Communication in our lives (p. 22). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
    [2] Vocate, D. (Ed.). (1994). Intrapersonal communication: Different voices, different minds.
    Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [3] Habermas, J. (1984). The theory of communicative action (Vol. 1, p. 100). Boston, MA:
    Beacon Press.
    [4] McLean, S. (2005). The basics of interpersonal communication (p. 14). Boston, MA: Allyn &
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    1.4 Your Responsibilities as a Communicator
    1. Discuss and provide several examples of each of the two main responsibilities of a
    business communicator.
    Whenever you speak or write in a business environment, you have certain responsibilities to your
    audience, your employer, and your profession. Your audience comes to you with an inherent set of
    expectations that you will fulfill these responsibilities. The specific expectations may change given
    the context or environment, but two central ideas will remain: be prepared, and be ethical.
    Communicator Is Prepared
    As the business communicator’s first responsibility, preparation includes several facets
    which we will examine: organization, clarity, and being concise and punctual.
    Being prepared means that you have selected a topic appropriate to your audience,
    gathered enough information to cover the topic well, put your information into a logical
    sequence, and considered how best to present it. If your communication is a written one,
    you have written an outline and at least one rough draft, read it over to improve your
    writing and correct errors, and sought feedback where appropriate. If your
    communication is oral, you have practiced several times before your actual
    The Prepared Communicator Is Organized
    Part of being prepared is being organized. Aristotle called this logos, or logic, and it
    involves the steps or points that lead your communication to a conclusion. Once you’ve
    invested time in researching your topic, you will want to narrow your focus to a few key
    points and consider how you’ll present them. On any given topic there is a wealth of
    information; your job is to narrow that content down to a manageable level, serving the
    role of gatekeeper by selecting some information and “de-selecting,” or choosing to not
    include other points or ideas.
    You also need to consider how to link your main points together for your audience. Use
    transitions to provide signposts or cues for your audience to follow along. “Now that
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    we’ve examined X, let’s consider Y” is a transitional statement that provides a cue that
    you are moving from topic to topic. Your listeners or readers will appreciate your being
    well organized so that they can follow your message from point to point.
    The Prepared Communicator Is Clear
    You have probably had the unhappy experience of reading or listening to a
    communication that was vague and wandering. Part of being prepared is being clear. If
    your message is unclear, the audience will lose interest and tune you out, bringing an
    end to effective communication.
    Interestingly, clarity begins with intrapersonal communication: you need to have a clear
    idea in your mind of what you want to say before you can say it clearly to someone else.
    At the interpersonal level, clarity involves considering your audience, as you will want to
    choose words and phrases they understand and avoid jargon or slang that may be
    unfamiliar to them.
    Clarity also involves presentation. A brilliant message scrawled in illegible handwriting,
    or in pale gray type on gray paper, will not be clear. When it comes to oral
    communication, if you mumble your words, speak too quickly or use a monotonous tone
    of voice, or stumble over certain words or phrases, the clarity of your presentation will
    Technology also plays a part; if you are using a microphone or conducting a
    teleconference, clarity will depend on this equipment functioning properly—which
    brings us back to the importance of preparation. In this case, in addition to preparing
    your speech, you need to prepare by testing the equipment ahead of time.
    The Prepared Communicator Is Concise and Punctual
    Concise means brief and to the point. In most business communications you are
    expected to “get down to business” right away. Being prepared includes being able to
    state your points clearly and support them with clear evidence in a relatively
    straightforward, linear way.
    It may be tempting to show how much you know by incorporating additional
    information into your document or speech, but in so doing you run the risk of boring,
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    confusing, or overloading your audience. Talking in circles or indulging in tangents,
    where you get off topic or go too deep, can hinder an audience’s ability to grasp your
    message. Be to the point and concise in your choice of words, organization, and even
    visual aids.
    Being concise also involves being sensitive to time constraints. How many times have
    you listened to a speaker say “in conclusion” only to continue speaking for what seems
    like forever? How many meetings and conference calls have you attended that got
    started late or ran beyond the planned ending time? The solution, of course, is to be
    prepared to be punctual. If you are asked to give a five-minute presentation at a
    meeting, your coworkers will not appreciate your taking fifteen minutes, any more than
    your supervisor would appreciate your submitting a fifteen-page report when you were
    asked to write five pages. For oral presentations, time yourself when you rehearse and
    make sure you can deliver your message within the allotted number of minutes.
    There is one possible exception to this principle. Many non-Western cultures prefer a
    less direct approach, where business communication often begins with social or general
    comments that a U.S. audience might consider unnecessary. Some cultures also have a
    less strict interpretation of time schedules and punctuality. While it is important to
    recognize that different cultures have different expectations, the general rule holds true
    that good business communication does not waste words or time.
    Communicator Is Ethical
    The business communicator’s second fundamental responsibility is to be
    ethical. Ethics refers to a set of principles or rules for correct conduct. It echoes what
    Aristotle called ethos, the communicator’s good character and reputation for doing what
    is right. Communicating ethically involves being egalitarian, respectful, and
    trustworthy—overall, practicing the “golden rule” of treating your audience the way you
    would want to be treated.
    Communication can move communities, influence cultures, and change history. It can
    motivate people to take stand, consider an argument, or purchase a product. The degree
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    to which you consider both the common good and fundamental principles you hold to
    be true when crafting your message directly relates to how your message will affect
    The Ethical Communicator Is Egalitarian
    The word “egalitarian” comes from the root “equal.” To be egalitarian is to believe in
    basic equality: that all people should share equally in the benefits and burdens of a
    society. It means that everyone is entitled to the same respect, expectations, access to
    information, and rewards of participation in a group.
    To communicate in an egalitarian manner, speak and write in a way that is
    comprehensible and relevant to all your listeners or readers, not just those who are “like
    you” in terms of age, gender, race or ethnicity, or other characteristics.
    In business, you will often communicate to people with certain professional
    qualifications. For example, you may draft a memo addressed to all the nurses in a
    certain hospital, or give a speech to all the adjusters in a certain branch of an insurance
    company. Being egalitarian does not mean you have to avoid professional terminology
    that is understood by nurses or insurance adjusters. But it does mean that your hospital
    letter should be worded for all the hospital’s nurses—not just female nurses, not just
    nurses working directly with patients, not just nurses under age fifty-five. An egalitarian
    communicator seeks to unify the audience by using ideas and language that are
    appropriate for all the message’s readers or listeners.
    The Ethical Communicator Is Respectful
    People are influenced by emotions as well as logic. Aristotle named pathos, or passion,
    enthusiasm and energy, as the third of his three important parts of communicating
    afterlogos and ethos.
    Most of us have probably seen an audience manipulated by a “cult of personality,”
    believing whatever the speaker said simply because of how dramatically he or she
    delivered a speech; by being manipulative, the speaker fails to respect the audience. We
    may have also seen people hurt by sarcasm, insults, and other disrespectful forms of
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    This does not mean that passion and enthusiasm are out of place in business
    communication. Indeed, they are very important. You can hardly expect your audience
    to care about your message if you don’t show that you care about it yourself. If your
    topic is worth writing or speaking about, make an effort to show your audience why it is
    worthwhile by speaking enthusiastically or using a dynamic writing style. Doing so, in
    fact, shows respect for their time and their intelligence.
    However, the ethical communicator will be passionate and enthusiastic without being
    disrespectful. Losing one’s temper and being abusive are generally regarded as showing
    a lack of professionalism (and could even involve legal consequences for you or your
    employer). When you disagree strongly with a coworker, feel deeply annoyed with a
    difficult customer, or find serious fault with a competitor’s product, it is important to
    express such sentiments respectfully. For example, instead of telling a customer, “I’ve
    had it with your complaints!” a respectful business communicator might say, “I’m
    having trouble seeing how I can fix this situation. Would you explain to me what you
    want to see happen?”
    The Ethical Communicator Is Trustworthy
    Trust is a key component in communication, and this is especially true in business. As a
    consumer, would you choose to buy merchandise from a company you did not trust? If
    you were an employer, would you hire someone you did not trust?
    Your goal as a communicator is to build a healthy relationship with your audience, and
    to do that you must show them why they can trust you and why the information you are
    about to give them is believable. One way to do this is to begin your message by
    providing some information about your qualifications and background, your interest in
    the topic, or your reasons for communicating at this particular time.
    Your audience will expect that what you say is the truth as you understand it. This
    means that you have not intentionally omitted, deleted, or taken information out of
    context simply to prove your points. They will listen to what you say and how you say it,
    but also to what you don’t say or do. You may consider more than one perspective on
    your topic, and then select the perspective you perceive to be correct, giving concrete
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    reasons why you came to this conclusion. People in the audience may have considered
    or believe in some of the perspectives you consider, and your attention to them will
    indicate you have done your homework.
    Being worthy of trust is something you earn with an audience. Many wise people have
    observed that trust is hard to build but easy to lose. A communicator may not know
    something and still be trustworthy, but it’s a violation of trust to pretend you know
    something when you don’t. Communicate what you know, and if you don’t know
    something, research it before you speak or write. If you are asked a question to which
    you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know the answer but I will research it and get
    back to you” (and then make sure you follow through later). This will go over much
    better with the audience than trying to cover by stumbling through an answer or
    portraying yourself as knowledgeable on an issue that you are not.
    The “Golden Rule”
    When in doubt, remember the “golden rule,” which says to treat others the way you
    would like to be treated. In all its many forms, the golden rule incorporates human
    kindness, cooperation, and reciprocity across cultures, languages, backgrounds and
    interests. Regardless of where you travel, who you communicate with, or what your
    audience is like, remember how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of your
    communication, and act accordingly.
    As a communicator, you are responsible for being prepared and being ethical. Being
    prepared includes being organized, clear, concise, and punctual. Being ethical includes
    being egalitarian, respectful, and trustworthy and overall, practicing the “golden rule.”
    1. Recall one time you felt offended or insulted in a conversation. What contributed to your
    perception? Please share your comments with classmates.
    2. When someone lost your trust, were they able earn it back? Please share your
    comments with classmates?
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    3. Does the communicator have a responsibility to the audience? Does the audience have a
    responsibility to the speaker? Why or why not? Please share your comments with
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    1.5 Additional Resources
    The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of
    communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic
    communication. http://www.iabc.com
    Explore the Web site of the National Communication Association, the largest U.S. organization
    dedicated to communication. http://www.natcom.org
    Read The National Commission on Writing’s findings about the importance of communication skills
    in business. http://www.writingcommission.org/pr/writing_for_employ.html
    The National Association of Colleges and Employers offers news about employment prospects for
    college graduates. http://www.naceweb.org
    Dale Carnegie, author of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, may have been
    one of the greatest communicators of the twentieth-century business world. The Dale Carnegie
    Institute focuses on giving people in business the opportunity to sharpen their skills and improve
    their performance in order to build positive, steady, and profitable
    Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides a wealth of resources for writing
    projects. http://owl.english.purdue.edu
    To communicate ethically, check your facts. FactCheck is a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg
    Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.http://www.factcheck.org
    To communicate ethically, check your facts. PolitiFact is a nonpartisan project of the St. Petersburg
    Times; it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. http://www.politifact.com
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    Chapter 2
    Delivering Your Message
    Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.
    Anne Morrow Lindbergh
    The meanings of words are not in the words; they are in us.
    S. I. Hayakawa
    Getting Started
    1. Can you match the words to their meaning?
    ___ 1. phat
    A. Weird, strange, unfair, or not acceptable
    ___ 2. dis
    B. Something stupid or thoughtless, deserving correction
    ___ 3. wack
    C. Excellent, together, cool
    ___ 4. smack
    D. Old car, generally in poor but serviceable condition
    ___ 5. down
    E. Insult, put down, to dishonor, to display disrespect
    ___ 6. hooptie F. Get out or leave quickly
    ___ 7. my bad G. Cool, very interesting, fantastic or amazing
    ___ 8. player
    H. To be in agreement
    ___ 9. tight
    I. Personal mistake
    ___ 10. jet
    J. Person dating with multiple partners, often unaware of each other
    2. Do people use the same language in all settings and contexts? Your first answer might be
    “sure,” but try this test. For a couple of hours, or even a day, pay attention to how you
    speak, and how others speak: the words you say, how you say them, the pacing and
    timing used in each context. For example, at home in the morning, in the coffee shop
    before work or class, during a break at work with peers or a break between classes with
    classmates all count as contexts. Observe how and what language is used in each context
    and to what degree they are the same or different.
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    1. 1-C, 2-E, 3-A, 4-B, 5-H, 6-D, 7-I, 8-J, 9-G, 10-F
    Successful business communication is often associated with writing and speaking well,
    being articulate or proficient with words. Yet, in the quote above, the famous linguist S.
    I. Hayakawa wisely observes that meaning lies within us, not in the words we use.
    Indeed, communication in this text is defined as the process of understanding and
    sharing meaning.[1] When you communicate you are sharing meaning with one or more
    other people—this may include members of your family, your community, your work
    community, your school, or any group that considers itself a group.
    How do you communicate? How do you think? We use language as a system to create
    and exchange meaning with one another, and the types of words we use influence both
    our perceptions and others interpretation of our meanings. What kinds of words would
    you use to describe your thoughts and feelings, your preferences in music, cars, food, or
    other things that matter to you?
    Imagine that you are using written or spoken language to create a bridge over which you
    hope to transport meaning, much like a gift or package, to your receiver. You hope that
    your meaning arrives relatively intact, so that your receiver receives something like what
    you sent. Will the package look the same to them on the receiving end? Will they
    interpret the package, its wrapping and colors, the way you intended? That depends.
    What is certain is that they will interpret it based on their framework of experience. The
    package represents your words arranged in a pattern that both the source (you) and the
    receiver (your audience) can interpret. The words as a package try to contain the
    meaning and deliver it intact, but they themselves are not the meaning. That lies within
    So is the package empty? Are the words we use empty? Without us to give them life and
    meaning, the answer is yes. Knowing what words will correspond to meanings that your
    audience holds within themselves will help you communicate more effectively. Knowing
    what meanings lie within you is your door to understanding yourself.
    This chapter discusses the importance of delivering your message in words. It examines
    how the characteristics of language interact in ways that can both improve and diminish
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    effective business communication. We will examine how language plays a significant
    role in how you perceive and interact with the world, and how culture, language,
    education, gender, race, and ethnicity all influence this dynamic process. We will look at
    ways to avoid miscommunication and focus on constructive ways to get your message
    delivered to your receiver with the meaning you intended.
    [1] Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: Understanding
    and sharing. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
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    2.1 What Is Language?
    1. Describe and define “language.”
    2. Describe the role of language in perception and the communication process.
    Are you reading this sentence? Does it make sense to you? When you read the words I
    wrote, what do you hear? A voice in your head? Words across the internal screen of your
    mind? If it makes sense, then you may very well hear the voice of the author as you read
    along, finding meaning in these arbitrary symbols packaged in discrete units called
    words. The words themselves have no meaning except that which you give them.
    For example, I’ll write the word “home,” placing it in quotation marks to denote its
    separation from the rest of this sentence. When you read that word, what comes to mind
    for you? A specific place? Perhaps a building that could also be called a house? Images
    of people or another time? “Home,” like “love” and many other words, is quite
    individual and open to interpretation.
    Still, even though your mental image of home may be quite distinct from mine, we can
    communicate effectively. You understand that each sentence has a subject and verb, and
    a certain pattern of word order, even though you might not be consciously aware of that
    knowledge. You weren’t born speaking or writing, but you mastered—or, more
    accurately, are still mastering as we all are—these important skills of self-expression.
    The family, group, or community wherein you were raised taught you the code. The code
    came in many forms. When do you say “please” or “thank you,” and when do you remain
    silent? When is it appropriate to communicate? If it is appropriate, what are the
    expectations and how do you accomplish it? You know because you understand the
    We often call this code “language”: a system of symbols, words, and/or gestures used to
    communicate meaning. Does everyone on earth speak the same language? Obviously,
    no. People are raised in different cultures, with different values, beliefs, customs, and
    different languages to express those cultural attributes. Even people who speak the same
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    language, like speakers of English in London, New Delhi, or Cleveland, speak and
    interact using their own words that are community-defined, self-defined, and have room
    for interpretation. Within the United States, depending on the context and environment,
    you may hear colorful sayings that are quite regional, and may notice an accent, pace, or
    tone of communication that is distinct from your own. This variation in our use of
    language is a creative way to form relationships and communities, but can also lead to
    Words themselves, then, actually hold no meaning. It takes you and me to use them to
    give them life and purpose. Even if we say that the dictionary is the repository of
    meaning, the repository itself has no meaning without you or me to read, interpret, and
    use its contents. Words change meaning over time. “Nice” once meant overly particular
    or fastidious; today it means pleasant or agreeable. “Gay” once meant happy or carefree;
    today it refers to homosexuality. The dictionary entry for the meaning of a word changes
    because we change how, when, and why we use the word, not the other way around. Do
    you know every word in the dictionary? Does anyone? Even if someone did, there are
    many possible meanings of the words we exchange, and these multiple meanings can
    lead to miscommunication.
    Business communication veterans often tell the story of a company that received an
    order of machine parts from a new vendor. When they opened the shipment, they found
    that it contained a small plastic bag into which the vendor had put several of the parts.
    When asked what the bag was for, the vendor explained, “Your contract stated a
    thousand units, with maximum 2 percent defective. We produced the defective units
    and put them in the bag for you.” If you were the one reading that contract, what would
    “defective” mean to you? We may use a word intending to communicate one idea only to
    have a coworker miss our meaning entirely.
    Sometimes we want our meaning to be crystal clear, and at other times, less so. We may
    even want to present an idea from a specific perspective, one that shows our company or
    business in a positive light. This may reflect our intentional manipulation of language to
    influence meaning, as in choosing to describe a car as “preowned” or an investment as a
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    “unique value proposition.” We may also influence other’s understanding of our words
    in unintentional ways, from failing to anticipate their response, to ignoring the possible
    impact of our word choice.
    Languages are living exchange systems of meaning, and are bound by context. If you are
    assigned to a team that coordinates with suppliers from Shanghai, China, and a sales
    staff in Dubuque, Iowa, you may encounter terms from both groups that influence your
    As long as there have been languages and interactions between the people who speak
    them, languages have borrowed words (or, more accurately, adopted—for they seldom
    give them back). Think of the words “boomerang,” “limousine,” or “pajama”; do you
    know which languages they come from? Did you know that “algebra” comes from the
    Arabic word “al-jabr,” meaning “restoration”?
    Does the word “moco” make sense to you? It may not, but perhaps you recognize it as
    the name chosen by Nissan for one of its cars. “Moco” makes sense to both Japanese and
    Spanish speakers, but with quite different meanings. The letters come together to form
    an arbitrary word that refers to the thought or idea of the thing in
    the semantic triangle (see Figure 2.9).
    Figure 2.1 Semantic Triangle
    Source: Adapted from Ogden and Richards. [1]
    This triangle illustrates how the word (which is really nothing more than a combination
    of four letters) refers to the thought, which then refers to the thing itself. Who decides
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    what “moco” means? To the Japanese, it may mean “cool design,” or even “best friend,”
    and may be an apt name for a small, cute car, but to a Spanish speaker, it means
    “booger” or “snot”—not a very appealing name for a car.
    Each letter stands for a sound, and when they come together in a specific way, the
    sounds they represent when spoken express the “word” that symbolizes the event. [2] For
    our discussion, the key word we need to address is “symbolizes.” The word stands in for
    the actual event, but is not the thing itself. The meaning we associate with it may not be
    what we intended. For example, when Honda was contemplating the introduction of the
    Honda Fit, another small car, they considered the name “Fitta” for use in Europe. As the
    story goes, the Swedish Division Office of Honda explained that “fitta” in Swedish is a
    derogatory term for female reproductive organ. The name was promptly changed to
    The meaning, according to Hayakawa, [3] is within us, and the word serves as a link to
    meaning. What will your words represent to the listener? Will your use of a professional
    term enhance your credibility and be more precise with a knowledgeable audience, or
    will you confuse them?
    Language is a system of words used as symbols to convey ideas, and it has rules of
    syntax, semantics, and context. Words have meaning only when interpreted by the
    receiver of the message.
    1. Using a dictionary that gives word origins, such as the American Heritage College
    Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, or the New Oxford American
    Dictionary, find at least ten English words borrowed from other languages. Share your
    findings with your classmates.
    2. Visit several English-language Web sites from different countries—for example,
    Australia, Canada, and the United States. What differences in spelling and word usage do
    you find? Discuss your results with your classmates.
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    3. From your viewpoint, how do you think thought influences the use of language? Write a
    one- to two-page explanation.
    4. What is meant by conditioned in this statement: “people in Western cultures do not
    realize the extent to which their racial attitudes have been conditioned since early
    childhood by the power of words to ennoble or condemn, augment or detract, glorify or
    demean?” [4] Discuss your thoughts with a classmate.
    5. Translations gone wrong can teach us much about words and meaning. Can you think of
    a word or phrase that just doesn’t sound right when it was translated from English into
    another language, or vice versa? Share it with the class and discuss what a better
    translation would be.
    [1] Odgen, C., & Richards, I. (1932). The meaning of meaning: A study of the influence of
    language upon thought and of the science of symbolism. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace &
    [2] McLean, S. (2003). The basics of speech communication. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
    [3] Hayakawa, S. I. (1978). Language in thought and action. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace
    [4] Moore, R. (2003). Racism in the English language. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
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    2.2 Messages
    1. Describe three different types of messages and their functions.
    2. Describe five different parts of a message and their functions.
    Before we explore the principles of language, it will be helpful to stop for a moment and
    examine some characteristics of the messages we send when we communicate. When
    you write or say something, you not only share the meaning(s) associated with the
    words you choose, but you also say something about yourself and your relationship to
    the intended recipient. In addition, you say something about what the relationship
    means to you as well as your assumed familiarity as you choose formal or informal ways
    of expressing yourself. Your message may also carry unintended meanings that you
    cannot completely anticipate. Some words are loaded with meaning for some people, so
    that by using such words you can “push their buttons” without even realizing what
    you’ve done. Messages carry far more than the literal meaning of each word, and in this
    section we explore that complexity.
    Primary Message Is Not the Whole Message
    When considering how to effectively use verbal communication, keep in mind there are
    three distinct types of messages you will be communicating: primary, secondary, and
    auxiliary. [1]
    Primary messages refer to the intentional content, both verbal and nonverbal. These are
    the words or ways you choose to express yourself and communicate your message. For
    example, if you are sitting at your desk and a coworker stops by to ask you a question,
    you may say, “Here, have a seat.” These words are your primary message.
    Even such a short, seemingly simple and direct message could be misunderstood. It may
    seem obvious that you are not literally offering to “give” a “seat” to your visitor, but to
    someone who knows only formal English and is unfamiliar with colloquial expressions,
    it may be puzzling. “Have a seat” may be much more difficult to understand than “please
    sit down.”
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    Secondary messages refer to the unintentional content, both verbal and nonverbal. Your
    audience will form impressions of your intentional messages, both negative and
    positive, over which you have no control. Perceptions of physical attractiveness, age,
    gender, or ethnicity or even simple mannerisms and patterns of speech may
    unintentionally influence the message.
    Perhaps, out of courtesy, you stand up while offering your visitor a seat; or perhaps your
    visitor has an expectation that you ought to do so. Perhaps a photograph of your family
    on your desk makes an impression on your visitor. Perhaps a cartoon on your bulletin
    board sends a message.
    Auxiliary messages refer to the intentional and unintentional ways a primary message is
    communicated. This may include vocal inflection, gestures and posture, or rate of
    speech that influence the interpretation or perception of your message.
    When you say, “Here, have a seat,” do you smile and wave your hand to indicate the
    empty chair on the other side of your desk? Or do you look flustered and quickly lift a
    pile of file folders out of the way? Are your eyes on your computer as you finish sending
    an e-mail before turning your attention to your visitor? Your auxiliary message might
    be, “I’m glad you came by, I always enjoy exchanging ideas with you” or “I always learn
    something new when someone asks me a question.” On the other hand, it might be, “I’ll
    answer your question, but I’m too busy for a long discussion,” or maybe even, “I wish
    you’d do your work and not bother me with your dumb questions!”
    Parts of a Message
    When you create a message, it is often helpful to think of it as having five parts:
    1. Attention statement
    2. Introduction
    3. Body
    4. Conclusion
    5. Residual message
    Each of these parts has its own function.
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    The attention statement, as you may guess, is used to capture the attention of your
    audience. While it may be used anywhere in your message, it is especially useful at the
    outset. There are many ways to attract attention from readers or listeners, but one of the
    most effective is the “what’s in it for me” strategy: telling them how your message can
    benefit them. An attention statement like, “I’m going to explain how you can save up to
    $500 a year on car insurance” is quite likely to hold an audience’s attention.
    Once you have your audience’s attention, it is time to move on to the introduction. In
    yourintroduction you will make a clear statement your topic; this is also the time to
    establish a relationship with your audience. One way to do this is to create common
    ground with the audience, drawing on familiar or shared experiences, or by referring to
    the person who introduced you. You may also explain why you chose to convey this
    message at this time, why the topic is important to you, what kind of expertise you have,
    or how your personal experience has led you to share this message.
    After the introduction comes the body of your message. Here you will present your
    message in detail, using any of a variety of organizational structures. Regardless of the
    type of organization you choose for your document or speech, it is important to make
    your main points clear, provide support for each point, and use transitions to guide your
    readers or listeners from one point to the next.
    At the end of the message, your conclusion should provide the audience with a sense of
    closure by summarizing your main points and relating them to the overall topic. In one
    sense, it is important to focus on your organizational structure again and incorporate
    the main elements into your summary, reminding the audience of what you have
    covered. In another sense, it is important not to merely state your list of main points
    again, but to convey a sense that you have accomplished what you stated you would do
    in your introduction, allowing the audience to have psychological closure.
    The residual message, a message or thought that stays with your audience well after the
    communication is finished, is an important part of your message. Ask yourself of the

    What do I want my listeners or readers to remember?
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    What information do I want to have the audience retain or act upon?

    What do I want the audience to do?
    Messages are primary, secondary, and auxiliary. A message can be divided into a fivepart structure composed of an attention statement, introduction, body, conclusion, and
    residual message.
    1. Choose three examples of communication and identify the primary message. Share and
    compare with classmates.
    2. Choose three examples of communication and identify the auxiliary message(s). Share
    and compare with classmates.
    3. Think of a time when someone said something like “please take a seat” and you correctly
    or incorrectly interpreted the message as indicating that you were in trouble and about
    to be reprimanded. Share and compare with classmates.
    4. How does language affect self-concept? Explore and research your answer, finding
    examples that can serve as case studies.
    Choose an article or opinion piece from a major newspaper or news Web site. Analyze
    the piece according to the five-part structure described here. Does the headline serve as
    a good attention statement? Does the piece conclude with a sense of closure? How are
    the main points presented and supported? Share your analysis with your classmates. For
    a further challenge, watch a television commercial and do the same analysis.
    [1] Hasling, J. (1998). Audience, message, speaker. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
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    2.3 Principles of Verbal Communication
    1. Identify and describe five key principles of verbal communication.
    2. Explain how the rules of syntax, semantics, and context govern language.
    3. Describe how language serves to shape our experience of reality.
    Verbal communication is based on several basic principles. In this section, we’ll examine
    each principle and explore how it influences everyday communication. Whether it’s a
    simple conversation with a coworker or a formal sales presentation to a board of
    directors, these principles apply to all contexts of communication.
    Language Has Rules
    Language is a code, a collection of symbols, letters, or words with arbitrary meanings
    that are arranged according to the rules of syntax and are used to communicate. [1]
    In the first of the Note 2.1 “Introductory Exercises” for this chapter, were you able to
    successfully match the terms to their meanings? Did you find that some of the
    definitions did not match your understanding of the terms? The words themselves have
    meaning within their specific context or language community. But without a grasp of
    that context, “my bad” may have just sounded odd. Your familiarity with the words and
    phrases may have made the exercise easy for you, but it isn’t an easy exercise for
    everyone. The words themselves only carry meaning if you know the understood
    meaning and have a grasp of their context to interpret them correctly.
    There are three types of rules that govern or control our use of words. You may not be
    aware that they exist or that they influence you, but from the moment you put a word
    into text or speak it, these rules govern your communications. Think of a word that is all
    right to use in certain situations and not in others. Why? And how do you know?
    Syntactic rules govern the order of words in a sentence. In some languages, such as
    German, syntax or word order is strictly prescribed. English syntax, in contrast, is
    relatively flexible and open to style. Still, there are definite combinations of words that
    are correct and incorrect in English. It is equally correct to say, “Please come to the
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    meeting in the auditorium at twelve noon on Wednesday” or, “Please come to the
    meeting on Wednesday at twelve noon in the auditorium.” But it would be incorrect to
    say, “Please to the auditorium on Wednesday in the meeting at twelve noon come.”
    Semantic rules govern the meaning of words and how to interpret them. [2] Semantics is
    the study of meaning in language. It considers what words mean, or are intended to
    mean, as opposed to their sound, spelling, grammatical function, and so on. Does a
    given statement refer to other statements already communicated? Is the statement true
    or false? Does it carry a certain intent? What does the sender or receiver need to know in
    order to understand its meaning? These are questions addressed by semantic rules.
    Contextual rules govern meaning and word choice according to context and social
    custom. For example, suppose Greg is talking about his coworker, Carol, and says, “She
    always meets her deadlines.” This may seem like a straightforward statement that would
    not vary according to context or social custom. But suppose another coworker asked
    Greg, “How do you like working with Carol?” and, after a long pause, Greg answered,
    “She always meets her deadlines.” Are there factors in the context of the question or
    social customs that would influence the meaning of Greg’s statement?
    Even when we follow these linguistic rules, miscommunication is possible, for our
    cultural context or community may hold different meanings for the words used than the
    source intended. Words attempt to represent the ideas we want to communicate, but
    they are sometimes limited by factors beyond our control. They often require us to
    negotiate their meaning, or to explain what we mean in more than one way, in order to
    create a common vocabulary. You may need to state a word, define it, and provide an
    example in order to come to an understanding with your audience about the meaning of
    your message.
    Our Reality Is Shaped by Our Language
    What would your life be like if you had been raised in a country other than the one
    where you grew up? Malaysia, for example? Italy? Afghanistan? Or Bolivia? Or suppose
    you had been born male instead of female, or vice versa. Or had been raised in the
    northeastern United States instead of the Southwest, or the Midwest instead of the
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    Southeast. In any of these cases, you would not have the same identity you have today.
    You would have learned another set of customs, values, traditions, other language
    patterns, and ways of communicating. You would be a different person who
    communicated in different ways.
    You didn’t choose your birth, customs, values, traditions, or your language. You didn’t
    even choose to learn to read this sentence or to speak with those of your community, but
    somehow you accomplished this challenging task. As an adult, you can choose to see
    things from a new or diverse perspective, but what language do you think with? It’s not
    just the words themselves, or even how they are organized, that makes communication
    such a challenge. Your language itself, ever changing and growing, in many ways
    determines your reality. [3] You can’t escape your language or culture completely, and
    always see the world through a shade or tint of what you’ve been taught, learned, or
    Suppose you were raised in a culture that values formality. At work, you pride yourself
    on being well dressed. It’s part of your expectation for yourself and, whether you admit
    it or not, for others. Many people in your organization, however, come from less formal
    cultures, and they prefer business casual attire. You may be able to recognize the
    difference, and because humans are highly adaptable, you may get used to a less formal
    dress expectation, but it won’t change your fundamental values.
    Thomas Kuhn [4] makes the point that “paradigms, or a clear point of view involving
    theories, laws, and/or generalizations that provide a framework for understanding, tend
    to form and become set around key validity claims, or statements of the way things
    work.” [5]The paradigm, or worldview, may be individual or collective. And paradigm
    shifts are often painful. New ideas are always suspect, and usually opposed, without any
    other reason than because they are not already common. [6]
    As an example, consider the earth-heavens paradigm. Medieval Europeans believed that
    the Earth was flat and that the edge was to be avoided, otherwise you might fall off. For
    centuries after the acceptance of a “round earth” belief, the earth was still believed to be
    the center of the universe, with the sun and all planets revolving around it. Eventually,
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    someone challenged the accepted view. Over time, despite considerable resistance to
    protect the status quo, people came to better understand the earth and its relationship
    to the heavens.
    In the same way, the makers of the Intel microprocessor once thought that a slight
    calculation error, unlikely to negatively impact 99.9 percent of users, was better left as is
    and hidden. [7] Like many things in the information age, the error was discovered by a
    user of the product, became publicly known, and damaged Intel’s credibility and sales
    for years. Recalls and prompt, public communication in response to similar issues are
    now the industry-wide protocol.
    Paradigms involve premises that are taken as fact. Of course the Earth is the center of
    the universe, of course no one will ever be impacted by a mathematical error so far
    removed from most people’s everyday use of computers, and of course you never danced
    the macarena at a company party. We now can see how those facts, attitudes, beliefs,
    and ideas of “cool” are overturned.
    How does this insight lend itself to your understanding of verbal communication? Do all
    people share the same paradigms, words, or ideas? Will you be presenting ideas outside
    your audience’s frame of reference? Outside their worldview? Just as you look back at
    your macarena performance, get outside your frame of reference and consider how to
    best communicate your thoughts, ideas, and points to an audience that may not have
    your same experiences or understanding of the topic.
    By taking into account your audience’s background and experience, you can become
    more “other-oriented,” a successful strategy to narrow the gap between you and your
    audience. Our experiences are like sunglasses, tinting the way we see the world. Our
    challenge, perhaps, is to avoid letting them function as blinders, like those worn by
    working horses, which create tunnel vision and limit our perspective.
    Language Is Arbitrary and Symbolic
    As we have discussed previously, words, by themselves, do not have any inherent
    meaning. Humans give meaning to them, and their meanings change across time. The
    arbitrary symbols, including letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, stand for
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    concepts in our experience. We have to negotiate the meaning of the word “home,” and
    define it, through visual images or dialogue, in order to communicate with our audience.
    Words have two types of meanings: denotative and connotative. Attention to both is
    necessary to reduce the possibility of misinterpretation. The denotative meaning is the
    common meaning, often found in the dictionary. The connotative meaning is often not
    found in the dictionary but in the community of users itself. It can involve an emotional
    association with a word, positive or negative, and can be individual or collective, but is
    not universal.
    With a common vocabulary in both denotative and connotative terms, effective
    communication becomes a more distinct possibility. But what if we have to transfer
    meaning from one vocabulary to another? That is essentially what we are doing when we
    translate a message. In such cases, language and culture can sometimes make for
    interesting twists. TheNew York Times [8] noted that the title of the 1998 film There’s
    Something About Maryproved difficult to translate when it was released in foreign
    markets. The movie was renamed to capture the idea and to adapt to local audiences’
    frame of reference: In Poland, where blonde jokes are popular and common, the film
    title (translated back to English for our use) was For the Love of a Blonde. In
    France, Mary at All Costs communicated the idea, while in Thailand My True Love Will
    Stand All Outrageous Events dropped the reference to Mary altogether.
    Capturing our ideas with words is a challenge when both conversational partners speak
    the same language, but across languages, cultures, and generations the complexity
    multiplies exponentially.
    Language Is Abstract
    Words represent aspects of our environment, and can play an important role in that
    environment. They may describe an important idea or concept, but the very act of
    labeling and invoking a word simplifies and distorts our concept of the thing itself. This
    ability to simplify concepts makes it easier to communicate, but it sometimes makes us
    lose track of the specific meaning we are trying to convey through abstraction. Let’s look
    at one important part of life in America: transportation.
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    Take the word “car” and consider what it represents. Freedom, status, or style? Does
    what you drive say something about you? To describe a car as a form of transportation is
    to consider one of its most basic and universal aspects. This level of abstraction means
    we lose individual distinctions between cars until we impose another level of labeling.
    We could divide cars into sedans (or saloon) and coupe (or coupé) simply by counting
    the number of doors (i.e., four versus two). We could also examine cost, size, engine
    displacement, fuel economy, and style. We might arrive at an American classic, the
    Mustang, and consider it for all these factors and its legacy as an accessible American
    sports car. To describe it in terms of transportation only is to lose the distinctiveness of
    what makes a Mustang a desirable American sports car.
    Figure 2.2Abstraction Ladder
    Source: Adapted from J. DeVito’s Abstraction Ladder. [9]
    We can see how, at the extreme level of abstraction, a car is like any other automobile.
    We can also see how, at the base level, the concept is most concrete. “Mustang,” the
    name given to one of the best-selling American sports cars, is a specific make and model
    with specific markings; a specific size, shape, and range of available colors; and a
    relationship with a classic design. By focusing on concrete terms and examples, you help
    your audience grasp your content.
    Language Organizes and Classifies Reality
    Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books
    We use language to create and express some sense of order…

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