World of Words

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Chapter 4: The World of Words

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." —Ludwig Wittgenstein

When we think of communication, we often think about the language used to convey the message. Language and many of our nonverbal behaviors are symbolic. We need to keep in mind that across cultures, symbols do not always mean the same thing and can cause confusion or misunderstanding. The text offers the following example on page 95. "The arbitrary nature of language becomes obvious-sometimes humorously so-when we discover that our words don't mean the same thing in another culture. The manufacturer of Dr. Pepper learned this lesson when marketing the soft drink didn't work in the United Kingdom. There, "I'm a pepper" means "I'm a prostitute" (Leaper, 1999). In Chapter 4, the author of the text suggests a set of guidelines for Improving Verbal (with words) Communication, we should: • • Engage in a Dual Perspective— that is, recognize the other's viewpoint Own Your Thoughts and Feelings— that is, take responsibility for thoughts and feelings rather than blaming others. Use "I" language rather than "You" language as seen in the examples in Table 4.1. Respect What Others Say About Their Feelings and Thoughts— just as you own your thoughts and feelings, others are doing the same, respecting this allows us to confirm them as people and maintain the dual perspective. Strive for Accuracy and Clarity— because symbols are arbitrary, ambiguous and abstract, we need to find ways to make our communication more accurate and as clear as possible for the situation at hand. Asking questions is a good way to insure accuracy and clarity of messages.

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