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Chapter Outline

  1. Communication climate refers to the social tone of a relationship and involves the way people feel about each other as they carry out activities.

  2. Communication climates develop by the degree to which people see themselves as valued.

    1. Confirming communication refers to messages that convey valuing. Three positive types of messages that have the best chance of being perceived as confirming.

      1. Recognition is the most fundamental act of confirmation, to recognize the other person.
      2. Acknowledging the ideas and feelings of others is a stronger form of confirmation than simple recognition.
      3. Endorsement means you agree with the speaker and is the highest form of confirming.
    2. Disagreeing messages lie between confirming and disconfirming and communicate that the other person is wrong; there are three types of disagreement.

      1. Argumentativeness is presenting and defending positions on issues while attacking positions taken by others.
      2. Complaining is a way to register dissatisfaction without arguing.
      3. Aggressiveness is the most destructive way to disagree with another person and involves attacking the self-concepts of others and winning at others’ expense.
    3. Disconfirming communication dismisses the value of a person; there are seven types of disconfirming response.

      1. Impervious responses fail to acknowledge the other person's communicative attempt.
      2. Interrupting responses occur when one person begins to speak before the other is through making a point.
      3. Irrelevant responses are totally unrelated to what the other person was saying.
      4. Tangential responses acknowledge the other person's communication, but the acknowledgement is used to steer the conversation in a new direction.
      5. Impersonal responses are monologues filled with impersonal, intellectualized, and generalized statements so the speaker never interacts with the other individual on a personal level.
      6. Ambiguous responses contain a message with more than one meaning.
      7. Incongruous responses contain two messages that seem to deny or contradict each other, one at the verbal level and one at the nonverbal level.
    4. Defensiveness is a reaction to a hostile or indifferent message and is the process of protecting our presenting self and face.

      1. Presenting self consists of all of the parts of the image you want to present to the world.
      2. Our face is the side of ourselves we try to project to others.
      3. Face-threatening acts are messages that seem to challenge the image we want to project.

    5. Climate patterns occur, and once a communication climate is formed, it can take on a life of its own, which can be represented as a spiral.
  3. Creating supportive climates. Reducing defensiveness can occur by sending supportive rather than defense-provoking messages, as explained by Gibb's categories.

    1. Evaluation versus Description — An evaluative message judges the other person, usually in a negative way, while description is a way to offer your thoughts, feelings, and wants without judging the listener.
    2. Controlling communication versus problem orientation—Controlling communication occurs when a sender seems to be imposing a solution on the receiver with little regard for the receiver's needs or interests, while in problem orientation, communicators focus on finding a solution that satisfies both their own needs and those of others involved.
    3. Strategy versus spontaneity—Strategy can be used to characterize defense-arousing messages in which speakers hide their ulterior motives, while spontaneity contrasts this behavior by being honest with others rather than manipulating them.
    4. Neutrality versus empathy—Neutrality describes a behavior that arouses defensiveness due to its indifference or lack of caring, while empathy provides support by accepting another's feelings.
    5. Superiority versus equality—Superiority is conveyed by patronizing messages that suggest “I’m better than you”, whereas speakers can achieve equality by communicating that although they may have greater talent in certain areas, they see others as having just as much worth as themselves.
    6. Certainty versus provisionalism—Individuals who insist that they are right project the defense-arousing behavior of certainty, while provisionalism is when people may have strong opinions but are willing to acknowledge that they don’t have a corner on the truth and will change their stand if another position seems more reasonable.
  4. Invitational communication is an approach that welcomes others to see your point of view and freely share their own.

    1. The language of choice.

      1. Describe choices instead of obligations.
      2. Invitational communicators extend freedom to others and exercise it themselves.
    2. Responding nondefensively to criticism.

      1. Seek more information.
        1. Ask for specifics. Request more specific information from the sender.
        2. Guess about the specifics. When the critic is unable to provide specific details, guess at the specifics.
        3. Paraphrase the speaker's thoughts and feelings.
      2. Agree with the critic.
        1. Agree with the truth when the person's criticism is factually correct.
        2. Agree in principle, which allows you to accept the principle upon which the criticism is based and still behave as you have been.
        3. Agree with the critic's perception by agreeing with the critic's right to perceive things their way; you acknowledge the reasonableness of their perceptions even though you don't agree or wish to change your behavior.

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