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Let's Talk About It: A Model of Communication



It is All Around Us

We, unfortunately, live in a world where conflict is all too frequent. It is in our workplaces, our schools, our neighborhoods, and our homes. The subject matter for this conflict are many. However, every conflict has some common threads. They all involve two, or more, people and they typically involve some form of communication.

In this article we discuss a typical model of communication. We want to highlight those areas most susceptible to giving way for conflict.

The Three Cs

We believe some definitions are important. All communication includes what I call the three Cs. There is content (C1) which includes the words, signs, or symbols that we use to convey a message to others.

There is context (C2), which includes the circumstances that form the background of a message to another. This includes the event that gives rise to the communication as well as one's perspectives and beliefs surrounding the event.

Then there is the construct (C3) of communication. This includes the phrasing, tone, pitch, and volume of the message.

All of these elements combine to form a complete communication. Moreover, any element that is not congruent is sufficient to affect the overall communication.

A wise communicator, or just a person trying to avoid, or reduce, conflict should be aware of how this model works. So let us look at the model.

A Model of Communication

In this model A & B are persons engaged in communication. For these purposes, A is originator of the communication and B is the receiver. A has a message to send so A contemplates the best mode (V) and means (C3) to send this communication. The V is to be understood as the vehicle used, whether it be a writing or audio message. The mean encompasses (C3), the tone, phrasing, pitch and volume of the message. The correct V is important because if A chooses the wrong V the message can be lost. The same applies to the correct C3. If a wrong C3 is sent the message can be misinterpreted or misread.

As the V is sent the first barrier it encounters is the N1, or noise. N1 is the ancillary noise that gets attached to the message on the sender's end. Noise can be in the form of static if the message is audio. Alternatively, if written, it can be poor grammar, prose, or awkward structure.

The V flows along until it confronts N2. This is the noise on the receiver's end. The message can also be intercepted and that brings its own N2.

Once the message is received by B, the message is decoded for C1, C2 and C3 and a response is fashioned. Then the process begins again from B to A. This is why we say the process is recursive. It loops back and forth until the parties disengage.

The Effects of the Three Cs

The first C we discuss is context (C2). If communication takes on improper forms, or mismatches the background event, an improper message will be sent. For instance, if an argumentative message, where no argument was suggested, is sent there will be conflict. If the background does not support or encourage a sent message conflict will result. The converse is also true.

When the message is congruent with the C2 it has a greater chance of being properly received. More, a properly constructed message can change the background (C2). For instance, a kind and gentle message will reduce a hostile angry environment.

The question becomes how do we construct the proper message. I would submit when we construct messages with inflammatory language we can trust we will receive a similar message. On the contrary, if we use conceding or neutral words we most likely will receive a similar message in response.

If we use attributing language, like "You this" or "You That" you will have conflict. If you use accepting language such as "I this" or "I that" you will be much better received. This is understanding the power of the C1.

Finally, our last C is construct or C3. This is very important. If you use wrong construct your C1 can be irreparably changed. For instance, if you say "I love you" in a hostile, loud tone and volume will your receiver feel loved?

The three Cs are vital elements in successful communication.

Noise, It Is All Around Us

Now we have to understand the roles of N1 and N2. When you form your message ask yourself what are your feelings? What is your attitude? What are you trying to convey? Please understand these are all reflected in the N1. Worse, they send a sub conscious message often in disparity with your three Cs. So you need to get your noise right before you send any message. Sometimes this means not being so quick to communicate. Sometimes just take a breather, get yourself together. It is OK not to communicate right away or until you are ready to do so without conflicting noise.

The same applies to the receiver with their N2. Sometimes you do not need to receive a message until you have your noise right. Put it down. It will still be there. Do not read it or hear it until you are ready. Do not allow the noise of the sender to determine the noise of the receiver. This is your message, own it, control it.

Now here is a really difficult part of communication. You have to think about how the receiver's N2. The question is how will they receive this message. You have to anticipate their N2 and insure it does not frustrate your message. That is difficult yet very necessary.

If you do not care, go for it. However, that is not communication. If you perceive the receivers N2 will be a block you may need to give more attention to your three Cs. The goal in communication is to be understood.

Conclusion

This is a very simplistic explanation of the communication process. However, it clearly makes the point of how communication works. More, how one employs these concepts will determine largely how they manage conflict.

We can, and will, explore these ideas in greater depth. However, hopefully this article does raise your awareness.

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