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Chapter One · PDF fileChapter One Process ... define metacommunication ... or presentation • to prepare for the

Jun 29, 2018




  • Chapter OneApplication.Communication ProcessKey ConceptImproving communication skills and abilities requires us to talk aboutcommunication. We can talk about communication only when we have acommon vocabulary.

    Chapter Objectives define communication

    define metacommunication identify and analyze the related components of the

    communication process develop a basic vocabulary for talking and writing

    about communication

    Key Terms channel communication communication imperative context feedback interference interpersonal communication

    intrapersonal communication mass media

    message metacommunication

    person-to-group communication receiver



    Applications.Communication for Personal and Professional ContextsHardcover Student Edition sampler

  • Applications.Communication for Personal and Professional ContextsHardcover Student Edition sampler


    W e all communicate every day. So we think we understand what itis. Before you read any further, write down your definition ofcommunication. Dont misplace it. Well get back to it later in thechapter. Communication does come naturally to us. So, we thinkvery little about calling someone on the phone or sending a e-mail just to askthem how they are doing. We often give thought to communication if wethink it is likely to be special. For example, we prepare for a job interview ora speech. We think through what were going to say. We even rehearse. Butsometimes in day-to-day communication at work or in our social lives, wedont think about communication. We just let it happen. Sometimes lettingit happen works out very well. No one wants to believe that allcommunication is planned. Other times, if we would just stop to think aboutour communication, we could avoid misunderstandings, communicate moreclearly, be more productive, and just get along better. Consider these twoscenes:

    Scenario #1The time is Friday afternoon. This communication interaction takes place

    in Pilars office. Pilar is a manager of an office that processes orders for acomputer firm. The people in Pilars office are present for a weekly wrap-upof the activities and planning for next weeks needsJames, who isresponsible for keeping the office on its schedule; Alicia, who is responsiblefor the computers and technology in the office; JaRon, who communicatesregularly with the sales people who turn in the orders.

    Pilar: James, we have an important order coming through next week. The westcoast order will be our biggest sale this quarter. Is everything in place tomove the work through the office and make sure the order gets towarehouse and shipping?

    James: That shouldnt be any problem, Pilar. Were in good shape. Is there anyreason you think wed have trouble? Weve handled orders bigger than this.

    JaRon and Alicia remain silent.

    Pilar: No concerns. I just thought...(Pilars phone rings, interrupting hersentence. Pilar answers the phone.)

  • Applications.Communication for Personal and Professional ContextsHardcover Student Edition sampler4

    Sylvia: Pilar here. May I help you?

    James: (to JaRon and Alicia): If this order is so important, why does she take thisphone call in the middle of our meeting? Weve handled these orders before.Whats the problem with what weve been doing?

    JaRon shakes his head and Alicia looks down at her notepad.

    James: I guess we all feel the same way.

    Scenario #2The time is Friday afternoon. This interaction takes place in James office

    before the weekly department meeting. Only Pilar and James are present.

    Pilar: James, when we meet this afternoon, Im going to want you to speak aboutthe upcoming west coast order. Since its likely to be the biggest order wehave this quarter, I want to be ready. (James furrows his brow.) You lookconcerned. Did something I said bother you? Are you okay with reviewingour procedures?

    James: Sure. I guess I dont quite understand why. Do you have any specificconcerns?

    Pilar: No, not really. But since Alicia hasnt been here when weve processed anorder this large, Id like to have you review what well be doing to handlethe increased paperwork. It might set her mind at ease. Also, shell be morecomfortable asking you questions if she knows that youve been throughthis before.

    James: Do you want me to emphasize anything particular?

    Pilar: Not really. I just thought...(Pilars phone rings.)

    James: You want to get that call?

    Pilar: No, my assistant can pick it up at her desk. I want to be sure youre okaywith doing the review. Dont emphasize anything particular, unless youthink its something Alicia needs to know.

  • Applications.Communication for Personal and Professional ContextsHardcover Student Edition sampler5

    James: Ill be ready. Ill even bring in that flowchart I made to show the sales staff.

    Pilar: Great. Thanks for handling that.

    Can you see the difference between the two? Scenario #1 doesnt seem as ifits producing the kind of results Pilar wants. In fact, instead of helping Aliciaunderstand, Pilar seems to have upset James. Scenario #2 delivers the samemessage to James: Pilar wants him to review the offices readiness for the bigupcoming order. But James takes this message much better than he takes thesame message in Scenario #1. Why?

    AnalysisIf we are to become more effective communicators, we must become

    accustomed to communicating about communicating. In other words, wemust get used to thinking about what we say or do when we speak and listen.When we communicate about communication, we are usingmetacommunication. To make metacommunication a lifelong habit, weshould first build a small vocabulary to help us.

    Metacommunication: A Lifelong Skill for a Lifelong LearnerIts helpful to think of metacommunication as occurring at three different

    stages: anticipatory, adaptive, and reflective. In other words, we canmetacommunicate before, during, and after communication. We practice thistrait all the time, but we often arent aware that we are doing it.

    Anticipatory Metacommunication. Think about Scenario #2. Its obviousthat Pilar has thought about her communication. She knows she has anupcoming meeting. She knows she wants James to review office procedures.She has communicated internallythat is, communicated with herself aboutthe meeting and what she plans to do. She realizes that James should be givensome warning about the meeting. Communication within yourself is calledintrapersonal communication. Pilar has used intrapersonal communication toplan what she will talk about in the meeting and how she can best get Jamesto help her. In other words, she anticipates the upcoming communication andplans for it.

    This is anticipatory metacommunication. By thinking through (in a way,talking to herself ) about her communication, Pilar has avoided problems thatcould come about in the message she plans to give during the meeting. Butanticipatory metacommunication can also take place with others. If Pilar hadshared her upcoming meeting agenda with another person, talked to her, and

  • Applications.Communication for Personal and Professional ContextsHardcover Student Edition sampler6

    listened to her, she would also have anticipated the communication withanother person.

    Adaptive Metacommunication. We do the same thing while we aredelivering a message. In Scenario #2, Pilar notices that James furrowed hisbrow. Her thinking probably went something like this: James is furrowing hisbrow, looking concerned. I must have said something that caused him concern. Ineed to find out what it is, since I dont want James to worry that something iswrong. This intrapersonal communication sounds a little bit silly writtendown, but this is the kind of metacommunication people do while they arecommunicating. Fortunately, we can talk or listen and think at the same time.Problems often result when we dont stop to think while we are talking orlistening. When we stop to think about our communication, we arepracticing metacommunication and adapting to the response we are gettingfrom those who are listening to us.

    Reflective Metacommunication. After weve finished communicating, wecan also take time to think about what happened. When we think aboutcommunication after the fact, were involved in reflectivemetacommunication. This kind of reflection can help us understand what wedid well, what we still need to do, and how we can improve.

    Have you ever thought about something you said or heard and wished youcould have done everything all over again? This often happens to us whenweve been in a difficult situation. After its all over, we think, I should havesaid this or that. I guess I should have explained more carefully. Now whatdid I say that made that kind of impression?

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    Communication ManagementMetacommunication






    prior to the actual speech,conversation, or presentation

    to prepare for thecommunication

    to plan for what you wouldlike to happen

    to anticipate problems andopportunities

    spend time thinking about theupcoming communication

    rehearse presentations ask advice of others recall past communication research topic understand audience


    during the actual speech,conversation, or presentation

    to judge how communicationis going

    to adjust what you say or do to help your communication

    be more effective

    maintain eye contact so youcan gauge audience reaction

    listen to questions orcomments

    be prepared to modifycommunication

    Reflective Metacommunication

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