Monday, January 24, 2011

The Many Ways We Communicate

For some reason, this is always a fun topic when I teach this. I think it's because we communicate in so many ways that most of us are unaware of. You see where this week's blog entries are going, right?

Some famous researchers (Watzlavick, Beavin, and Jackson for those keeping track!) once said that we "cannot not communicate". Think about that for a minute. If you walk into a room...even if you say are communicating to those present. The clothes you wear, how you smell, how you enter the room, the look on your face...all communicate something.

Let's take a minute and look at the different modes of communicating (whether intentional or not). Communication occurs in combinations of two mediums - verbal/nonverbal and vocal/nonvocal.
The verbal medium deals with words. Anything we communicate with words is verbal.
The vocal medium deals with using our voice. Here are the four modes broken down:

Verbal-Vocal: You got it! This one denotes talking. Any time we say something to someone we are using this mode of communication. This mode is most easily understood as communication.

Verbal-Nonvocal: This is when we use words but no voice. American Sign Language is the best example of this.

Nonverbal-Vocal: We use this when we are not using words, but we are using our voice. We may not always recognize this as communication, but at the same time we know when someone else does this. If your husband comes into the room and heaves a great S-I-G-H, you know something is going on...though he didn't say a word. Other examples include crying, screaming (without words, of course), humming, tone of voice, volume of speech, rate of speech, and 'huffing and puffing'.

Nonverbal-Nonvocal: This category is huge! I'll be coming back to this in much greater detail in future posts. For now, it's important to know that this includes appearance, smell, eye contact, proximtiy, issues of territory, and touch.

The wonderful world of interpersonal communication informs our understanding in so many ways.
By knowing the ways we communicate, we can better tune in to our loved ones and monitor our own communication to 'say' what we really mean. More on that on Thursday!

Have a wonderful week!

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