When we are attempting to transfer our meaning to another person, we use three different modes, methods, or channels to carry our intentions. We use these modes to tell people who we are, how we experience the world, and the meaning we attach to our experience. We communicate verbally and nonverbally, and often with mixed signals or noise.
When two persons, A and B, are attempting to communicate with each other, their communication is distorted by their personalities, attitudes, values, belief systems, biases, the assumptions they are making about each other, their experience, background, and so on. A's communication to B flows through A's screen and through B's screen. When B responds to A, B is responding to what she heard rather than what A might have intended. She shoots her message back to B through her own screen of attitudes, values, and so on, through A's screen. What is often not understood is that the way we get messages through our screens and through another person's screen often is confusing and distorting in and of itself. We add to what we hear, we fail to hear, and we distort messages according to the modes that are used to convey messages.
Nonverbal Communication - Appearance and Other Cues
We say a great deal to each other about who we are and how we experience each other and the rest of the world through symbolic means. The symbolic communication mode is essentially passive, and messages emitted in this way are very easily misinterpreted. What are some of the symbols that we use? First, our choice of clothes can tell a great deal about who we are, what our values are, what our status is, how conservative or liberal we are. We associate differences in occupational status with different uniforms. The banker wears a suit, the farmer wears overalls, and so on.
The second set of symbols with which we often associate meaning is hair. The type of hairdo, length and color of hair, and the presence or... [continues]
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