The first day of class is something we all have experienced. From grade school, through high school and right into college, the first day of class is a mixture of fear, excitement and anticipation. In college, the excitement and anticipation can quickly change to dread when a linear form of communication is utilized by the professor…
In this model of communication, all of the information is flowing from one source to another. There is no feedback from the receiver. Linear communication is characterized by a one, way flow of information from sender to receiver. It is as if you are receiving e-mail messages but you do not have a reply button. Anyone that has been on the receiving end of this model of communication usually comes away unsatisfied. I often lose interest in the lecture if there is no opportunity for interaction with the professor or the source of the information. I find that my attention begins to wander and that taking in information becomes difficult. This is probably why linear communication is not a great model for giving lots of information to people if you expect them to actually remember the information. Without interaction, people lose interest in the communication. I find this to be true even when I am interested in the topic of the communication. If the lecture is great, it will hold my attention longer, but in the end I will regret not having the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. The next scenario involves fast food, something I do not have much experience with, but is a big part of our society. I’m hungry, so I pull into the drive-through at McDonalds. I pull up to the microphone and a crackly voice asks me to place my order. I place my order. I am asked what type of drink I want. I reply. I am asked if I would like to try a new product. I respond. I am ordered to drive up to the window to make payment. I comply. I drive up, make payment and ask for extra napkins. Extra napkins are placed in the sack with my food. I drive away. This is an example of an interactional model of communication. The communication is linear, but it goes both ways. I am asked to order so I place an order. I ask for napkins so I receive napkins. Interactional communication is like discrete messages that flow both ways, but are not really connected with each other. They are situational in nature. It is almost like chatting on a computer with a friend. Your friend writes a message, sends it to you and then you reply to the message. Interactional communication works to fulfill needs but does not provide a lot of depth of understanding or meaning. It is affected by a person’s culture and background, so it is more complicated than the linear model. A third scenario involves a visit to a friend that has just had a fight with a spouse. My friend is upset for many reasons. I listen while the friend talks. The verbal and nonverbal messages being sent indicate that my friend knows that the fight was silly and unnecessary, but is not sure how to fix the situation. I respond by asking questions to help me understand the situation, trying not to be judgmental of my friend. I offers some suggestions and listen some more. I really feel badly for my friend because I know that he is contrite and wants to do the right thing by his spouse. This is an example of transactional communication. Both of the parties are communicating by being senders and receivers of information. The information is being sent in a variety of ways. I know my friend well, so I understand his body language and what his word choices mean. This has an affect on my emotional state and I respond in a way that I believe will help my friend out of a difficult situation. The conversation between my friend and I results in an exchange of ...
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