Meta-communication (Was: Don't start down that road...)

Subject: Meta-communication (Was: Don't start down that road...)
From: Beth Agnew <Beth -dot- Agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 07 Feb 2003 16:21:38 -0500

People employ various techniques when they communicate:
There is the obtuse stance, where the respondent consciously or unconsciously misses the point the other person is trying to make. There is the distraction, where the respondent uses verbal countermeasures to draw the discussion away from the original topic into another area where s/he may have more ammunition or a better position to defend. There is the ad hominem argument which is directed toward the person rather than the matter being discussed. There is the "I'm OK, you're not" style that points out the faults in the other party's argument, logic or presentation while being oblivious to those same errors in one's owm communication. There are many more.

Computer-mediated communication removes many of the normal barriers to conversation by letting us focus on words and ideas without being affected by the correspondent's appearance, race, accent, gestures, etc. Theoretically, this should provide a communication environment that allows for more profound discussion and clearer messages. But what do we humans do? We find ways of reintroducing all those physical aspects of communication into the computer medium and perpetuate the problems that we have in face to face discussions.

As Andrew points out, we are professional wordsmiths. Our success is based on our skill in putting the right words in the right place at the right time for the right audience. What would happen if we used this medium to discover new, more effective ways of communicating, especially on sensitive topics?

Here we have people who are supposedly skilled communicators who are debating about
how they are not being understood. Communicators who are unable to effectively
You have to see the irony in that.
Andrew Plato
Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, Ontario
416.491.5050 x3133
beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca


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Re: ADMIN: Don't start down this road: From: Andrew Plato

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