Communication Theory Communication competence is the ability to interact with others in a way that transfers meaning correctly as desired. It is two way, as it includes speaking in way that the listeners will understand and listening for what they mean. “Humans act toward people, things, and events on the basis of the meanings they assign to them.” ("Theory Resources—A First Look at Communication Theory.") Therefore, someone who has developed communicative competence will find a way to examine and understand how the listener will interpret his words by identifying the meanings the listener ascribes to the speaker’s words…
There will almost always be some common ground from which to work. By working from known shared meanings, it is possible to attach new meanings and new workds by comparing either similarity or difference. Using the more visual metaphor or simile can work well in these circumstances, as long as there is also a clear shared understanding of meanings carries by such imagery. For example one might explain “timidity” as being afraid of small things, such as l0ooking someone else in the eye. However, in some Eastern and Asian cultures, it is the height of rudeness and a very aggressive act to look someone else directly in the eye. The opportunities for miscommunication are many and truly competent communicators are few. II: Discussing Plans for Saturday Night with my Friend’s Mother It was early one Saturday evening, and my friends and I were going out to hang in the downtown area near places where there were always lots of girs. My two friends left for a few minutes to get something, and I waited. Carl’s mother came into the livingroom where I was waiting, and asked me about where we were going, but she started right off by asking if we were going bird watching. She had overheard a conversation earlier between Murray, who is from the UK and Carl, her son. I did not realize that she had misunderstood, so I simply chatted with her. FM: So I heard you Murray and Carl planning to go bird watching with you tonight. Where will you do that? Me: Oh right on the boardwalk. There’s flocks of them there. FM: Really? At night? Me: Oh you know they love the bright lights and the music. FM: That music? I would think it would drive them away. Me: Well I admit it is a tad loud, and keeps the same beat all night, but one little drink solves that whole problem. They start dancing and get more thirsty, drink a little more and pretty some they love everything. FM: That sounds more like you are planning to catch them. Me: Oh no, nothing quite so crude. After all, they can’t fly. FM: What kinds of birds are they, Penguins or Dodos? Me: Oh no, they’re just girls. I’m sorry. Murray’s a Brit. To him all birds are girls, doncha know? FM: No, I don’t. The prettiest ones are the boys. Me: I stood silent for many seconds and then started to laugh. III: Analysis of the Miscommunication in the Conversation and the Causes In the previous conversation, the two speakers did not share the same definition for several of the key words. Notably the two most important were “bird” and “fly”, which are colloquial expressions in Great Britain meaning “girl” and “run away”. Several other parts of the conversation were ambiguous when paired with the meanings of these two words. “Drink” was meant as an alcoholic beverage, but was interpreted as meaning water by the listener, because she was convinced the conversation was about the animals that have wings and fly mostly in the day time. Neither participant in this conversation were actually competent communicators, since neither one tried to establish a base of meaning before carrying on with the conversation. The use of slang ...
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