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UNIT 7: THE LANGUAGE IN COMMUNICATION II Unit Objectives At the end of the unit, you will be able to: define and describe the major principles of verbal messages; – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • Unit Objectives
  • At the end of the unit, you will be able to
  • define and describe the major principles of
    verbal messages
  • explain some of the ways in which to communicate
    criticism, praise, and appraisal
  • list the reasons why people lie and explain
    dimensions of lying
  • define confirmation and disconfirmation and
    provide examples and
  • state the main barriers to effective speech
    communication and suggest corrective measures
  • describe racist, sexist, and heterosexist
    language and explain their impact on
    communication practice.

Exclusive and Inclusive Talk
  • Exclusive Talk
  • talk that is of interest only to one particular
  • other groups are 'excluded' from the topic of
  • e.g. communication between a group of doctors in
    the presence of non-doctors talking about one's
    country to others of the same nationality within
    a heterogeneous group of people from various
  • Exclusive talk also includes self-talk that
    centres on the self exclusively and on little
  • Inclusive Talk
  • making an attempt to include everyone involved in
    the conversation,
  • making people feel a part of the communication

Downward and Equality Talk
  • Downward Talk
  • the sender creates a message that is
    condescending or patronising, and manipulative or
  • the speaker puts himself or herself above others
    and addresses them from this position of power.
    E.g. "I know you probably don't realise this
    but" or "You probably don't keep abreast with
    developments in computer technology, so."
  • the speaker tells people how they should feel
    e.g. "Don't be silly, you'll pass the course", or
    "Forget about the cheat. You'll meet someone
    better pretty soon", or even "Lots of people are
    worse off. Don't feel sorry for yourself!"
  • the speaker interrupts others rudely to have his
    or her say in the matter at hand.

  • Equality Talk
  • opposite of downward talk
  • sender treats everyone involved as an equal
    everyone has a right to speak and has a right to
    be heard
  • Power Play
  • special type of talk that puts the listener down
    to allow the sender to get what s/he wants often
    using more elaborate ways e.g. by expressing
    ignorance of the rules of social etiquette "I
    didn't know you don't want me to look into your
    mail-box, so I took the liberty to", "Do you
    want me to knock before I come into your office
    next time?" and so on.

  • Management Strategies (particularly for
    controlling downward talk)
  • Express your feelings about the message
  • Describe the behaviour you object to
  • State/Suggest a co-operative response that both
    parties can live comfortably with

Criticism, Praise, and Honest Appraisal
  • Criticising is not simply finding fault with a
    person's behaviour or character.
  • we have to highlight both strengths and
    weaknesses with a view to help shortcomings
  • must be constructive to be worthwhile for the
    parties concerned.
  • Praise is communication that is meant to
    compliment or to say something positive about
    people and/or their behaviour.
  • Appraisal involves added judgement or value.
  • Important to distinguish when a person is asking
    for a compliment, a critique and/or appraisal.

How to Criticise
  • A few tips on how to extend criticism
  • Focus on the event or behaviour, not on the
  • Take responsibility for your criticism (criticism
    is owned by the speaker rather than the
  • State concern for the other person along with the
  • Be specific to make the criticism work better.
  • Avoid mind reading. E.g. "Don't you ever care
    enough about .. compared with "I'd use a
    stronger introduction and friendlier style to
    address the interests of the readers."

Giving Praise
  • Praise is positive feedback that is given to a
    person or group of people
  • Use I-messages e.g. "I thought your performance
    in the play was good. I particularly liked the
    way you" is certainly better than "Your
    performance in the play was good."
  • Use positive non-verbal feedback to support the
    verbal message (provided these are appropriate to
    the cultural context of the speaker and/or the
    listener) e.g. touching the forearm, patting on
    the shoulder, smiling, etc.
  • Be specific by extending the I-message (see
    example in 1 above)

Lying and Honesty
  • 'Lying' may be defined as the act of deliberately
    misleading another person by giving false
    information (commission) and/or providing
    incomplete information about an
    issue/topic/matter (omission).

  • Reasons for lying
  • Gain some kind of reward and/or to escape
  • Basic needs - lies told to gain or to retain
    objects that fulfil basic needs such as money and
  • Affiliation - lies told to increase desired
    affiliation/association or to decrease undesired
  • Self-esteem - lies told to protect or increase
    one's self-esteem of oneself, the person one is
    interacting with or some third party
  • Self-gratification - lies told to achieve some
    personal satisfaction such as humour

  • Two dimensions of lying
  • The ethical dimension to lying concerns deciding
    or at least thinking about what is right and what
    is wrong about not telling the truth.
  • The effectiveness dimension is about whether the
    lie succeeds or fails to gain the reward or avoid
    the punishment that gave rise to the lie in the
    first place.
  • One has to examine one's own beliefs and
    communication practice within the relevant
    cultural context(s).

Gossip and Confidentiality
  • Gossip is idle, third party talk, which might
    include rumour, especially about the personal or
    private affairs of others.
  • Some problems of gossip
  • Confidentiality broken
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Ethical implications of gossip
  • revealing information that you have promised to
    keep secret
  • Knowing something to be false and yet passing it
  • Being invasive by invading people's privacy

Verbal Message Barriers and their Correction
  • Polarisation
  • the tendency to view the world in terms of
    opposites, and to describe it in extremes (good
    vs. bad, positive vs. negative, intelligent vs.
    stupid etc.)
  • Correcting polarisation we must realise and
    understand that most people have qualities that
    fall somewhere between extremes on a continuum
    (See Appendix II, particularly at the 'relativity

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Intensional Orientation
  • the tendency to look at people, objects, and
    events in a way they are talked about and the way
    they are labelled. e.g. "Peter is dull and
  • cultural identifiers used by one group of people
    on another - may be racist and derogatory e.g.
    African American or black or Negro?
  • Correcting intensional orientation to
    'extensionalise' i.e. see people, objects and
    events as they are and not in terms of convenient
    labels cultural identifiers must be acceptable

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Fact-Inference Confusion
  • referring to inferential statements as though
    they were facts e.g. "This university is the best
    in the country" is an inferential statement
  • correcting fact-inference confusion Inferential
    statements are those which are often made
    tentatively in that they are open to possible
    alternative viewpoints, or they may be proved

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Bypassing
  • a pattern of misevaluation in which people fail
    to communicate their intended meanings E.g. a
    woman says "I like you" to a man (friendship or
    love/permanent relationship?)
  • Correcting bypassing Look for meanings in
    people, not in words also the listener should
    constantly seek feedback about what is said to
    avoid miscommunication

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Allness
  • the wrong belief that we know all that needs to
    be known about a person or group
  • the world is a very complex place (remember the
    six blind men and the elephant?)
  • Correcting allness
  • end all statements with an et cetera (etc.)
    whether verbally or mentally to remind yourself
    "There are more things in heaven and earth,
    Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Static Evaluation
  • a verbal evaluation statement about an event,
    person, or object that remains unchanging
    (static) although the original object or person
    changes greatly over time
  • correcting static evaluation we must always try
    to date our statements and especially our
    evaluations of ourselves, other people, events
    and objects e.g. Ahmad's academic performance in
    2000 need not be the same in 2001 (because he
    could have worked harder or, unfortunately, grown

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Indiscrimination
  • focus on classes of people, objects, or events
    and failure as though there are no differences
    stereotypes and ethnocentric perspectives
  • stereotyping - forming a fixed mental picture of
    some group that is applied to each individual of
    the group without regard to his or her unique
    individual qualities
  • ethnocentrism - the tendency to see other and
    their behaviours through one's own cultural
    filters to evaluate the values, beliefs, and
    behaviours of one's own culture as being more
    positive, logical, and natural
  • Correcting indiscrimination we must see
    uniqueness in individuals despite labels and
    stereotypes to avoid discriminating against
    people on racial, religious, cultural, and
    national basis
  • use an index (verbal or mental subscript) to
    identify and relate to people as unique
    individuals e.g. Urban Chinese1 is NOT equal to
    Urban Chinese2, and Malay Muslim1 is NOT the same
    as Malay Muslim2

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Confirmation and Disconfirmation
  • Confirmation
  • those set of behaviours that acknowledge and
    accept the presence of the other person(s) with
    whom we come into contact.
  • It is the opposite of disconfirmation.
  • Disconfirmation
  • we ignore someone's presence as well as his or
    her communications.
  • we must keep an open mind about situations that
    call for confirmation

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • -any conscious or subconscious attempt to use
    language in a way that places the members of one
    sex in an inferior position.
  • can affect men as well
  • even women against women, or men against men
  • feminists have argued that language use is
    basically sexist i.e. is biased towards women
  • bias affects the way men treat women and the way
    women regard themselves
  • many reforms aimed at improving the perceived
    lower status of women and removing connotations
    that treat women as sex objects

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Sexist language
  • -language used to reproduce or represent a sexist
    stance that already exists in society
  • Generic Man common terms used to reproduce this
    include man, mankind, the common man, and
  • Generic He and His the so-called neutral
  • Words with positive connotation for men
    confident forceful, strong, etc.
  • Words with negative connotation to describe
    women fickle, frivolous, timid, etc.
  • Feminine markers for women derived from men's
    labels waitress, actress, mistress, etc.
  • Different metaphors to refer to men and women
  • 'power' animal metaphors for men e.g. lion,
    tiger, wolf, etc.
  • lower status food metaphors and baby animal names
    for women e.g. sugar, honey, tomato, cookie,
    piece of cake, chick, kitty, etc.
  • Connotations of women as objects of sexual
    conquest pussycat, baby, sweetie, skirt, etc.

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Sex-Role Stereotyping
  • Are doctors always male, and nurses always
  • Are kindergarten teachers always female, and
    firemen male?
  • What corrective measures may be taken?
  • Summary Men who have the power to name things,
    people, and events and language to assert their
    dominance over women so what language reform is

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • Heterosexism
  • "refers to language used to disparage gay men and
  • DeVito's views about 'homophobic language'
  • "denies the lesbian and gay identity a certain
    legitimacy" (2001, p. 104).
  • Is this also a norm in Asian cultures, and more
    specifically in Malaysian culture(s)
  • multiple norms depending on the number of primary
    cultures we have in the country?

Verbal Barriers (contd)
  • any conscious or subconscious attempt at using
    language that places a particular racial or
    ethnic group in an inferior position.
  • Racist language is like sexist language
    reflects and perpetuates racist attitudes in the
    same way that sexist language does for sexist
  • What do racist attitudes emphasise?
  • What are the socio-political effects of such
    attitudes in multiracial, multicultural
  • Racism is not only about speakers but also about
    the listeners who hold racist attitudes.
  • How can we develop racism-free speech
    communication practices?
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