Defensive Communication

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In 1962, J L Austin put forth 'an understanding of language as a medium for actions or deeds' (Kenaan 66). The notion of language as behaviour found further expression as 'linguistic acts' and 'speech acts' (Searle). What is more, as a type of behaviour, defensive communication is a social phenomenon that occurs when a person in a group feels threatened (Gibb 14).


By examining these forms of messages in the context of interpersonal communication, I shall reaffirm previous research findings that defensive communication results in 'losses in efficiency in communication' (Gibb 14).
The strategy of defensive communication has various tactics and in the limited space afforded by this paper I will separately analyse in the following order only control messages, dogmatic messages, messages of indifference, and messages of superiority.
Control messages predominantly operate as imperatives, commands, and instructions. Control messages therefore imply authority, that is, the 'right to give orders or make decisions' (Lewis). Authority, however, implies varying degrees of power. 'A power relation is a causal relation between the preferences of an actor regarding an outcome and the outcome itself' (Pettigrew 188). For example, a police officer has authority to issue commands and power to enforce those commands. In contrast, a teacher has authority to issue commands and instruction but less power to enforce those commands. Parents like teachers have authority and a limited degree of power. What is more, as the context of one's communication becomes more personal authority and power wan, so that no real power relations exist between friends. ...
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