miercuri, 19 februarie 2014

Petre Anghel, Efficient strategies of communication

Petre Anghel
Efficient strategies of communication

Lecture 1. Importance of communication
1.1. Interpersonal relationships are grounded on communication that helps individual know himself and those around him.
1.2. The capacity of communication defines human personality as each of us wants to be perceived in a correct dimension capable of individualisation.
1.3. The need to find out what for we communicate helps the individual define both his conduct, and his language.

·       At the end of this lecture, the students shall have acquired the theoretical background for understanding the process of communication.
·       They shall comprehend the concept of communication.
·       They shall understand the reasons for communication.
·       They shall identify the components of the process of communication.

·       The students shall be divided in groups of 3-4 persons.
·       One of them shall step forward to introduce himself.
·       The other students shall address questions in order to complete the portrait.
·       The same exercise shall be repeated with another student.
·       There shall be drawn up a summary of the elements that may define someone.     

      Philip Lesly, president of Philip Lesly Company, an authority acting in the field of public relations and communication, author of various works that are already classic,[1] has distinguished several principles for an efficient communication. Lesly published his ideas in a discourse sponsored by Ball Corporation, at Ball State University. His ideas are briefly outlined further below:
  • Treat everything from the point of view of public interest – what people have in mind.
  • Make public feel that it takes part in the process of communication and in general in all what’s happening there.
  • Make the subject a part of the public’s everyday life –what they are discussing about, what they hear from other people. This implies adapting the material to their channels of communication.
  • Communicate with and not to people. Communication that treats public as a target renders people defensive.
  • Locate – do your best to send the message as close as possible to the individual’s life.
  • Use several channels of communication, not one or two. The impact is much  higher when it reaches people in various forms.
  • Be constant – what a subject is told about is always the same thing regardless the public or the context aimed at. However, it is desirable that the message should be as much as possible adapted to the public.
  • Avoid doing propaganda, but make sure you make your point of view known. When the person communicating is the one who draws the conclusions of the informing session, a higher efficiency will be obtained than if he expected public to do this.
  • Stay credible as credibility is essential for the efficiency of all the above.[2]

1.1. Interpersonal relationships are grounded on communication that helps the individual know himself and those around him.
Due to the fact that communication represents a process of interaction between people, groups, as a relationship mediated by word, image, gesture, symbol or sign, we shall continuously interweave the results of the field-related investigation to the experience of the last decades in the field of education, as well as to the specific of mass media, art, literature and religion communication. And this is to underline that by communication individuals share their knowledge, interests, aptitudes, feelings, ideas. Moreover, they can transform, change their mentality, acquire a system of values necessary for the day-by-day life. Interpersonal communication, along with its social nature, cannot be reduced only to its survival function, but it should aim much higher: rendering actions efficient as compared to the modern life standards imposed by an integrated society or ready to do it in the system of democratic values.
            Considered a process in progress, communication consists in transmitting and changing information (messages) between persons, in diffusing impressions and orders, in sharing emotions, decisions and valuable judgements finally aiming to obtain effects at the particular, inner level of each individual. Bringing such observation stated by specialists in the information system, let us translate to our understanding the message: communication means saying those around us who you are, what you want, what for you want a certain thing and what are the means you are going to use in order to attain your objectives. In this regard, communication also implies keeping quite, waiting for a reaction, for the reply of the one to whom you wanted to make such honour of informing him about your existence, and even say what you want.
Human communication processes are indispensable in constituting each social group. The psycho-sociologists underlined that in team working, communication has an important part of individual efforts regulation and synchronisation. It is difficult to imagine where human community would have reached – if it had reached – without such capacity of communication.
Daniel Bougnoux, professor at the University Grenoble III – Stendhal, by resorting to key concepts taken from semiotics and pragmatics, considers that, first of all, communication means «having something in common». In this case, the modern world and the networks defining it continuously refresh the modalities by which people are together and ramify worlds. Such ramification entails, inevitably, crumbling. Despite believing in individual’s capacity to communicate, Bougnoux, since understanding the complexity of the phenomenon, doubts a discipline capable to deal all by itself such a field. «If a discipline referred to as communication is groping around nowadays looking for its own consistency, the same shall not be found out but by debates and confrontation of various knowledge».[3] It means that we cannot treat communication without resorting to the thesaurus of knowledge specific to other fields, especially to values, methods and means imposed by linguistics, philosophy, sociology, ethics, mass-media, etc.
Reality proves that most researchers are interested almost exclusively in their field of activity, which implicitly leads to isolation. Isolation, either at the level of the individual as human expression, or in the light of the profession, entails inhibition and, finally, incapacity of communication, that is succumbing of the value. However, the reverse of the specialisation – knowing a bit from everything – is nothing else but knowing nothing, a general formation that does not represent any longer a capital in the modern world.
Therefore, communication remains the ideal solution to salvation from an equation that seems impossible to be solved. This time it’s about communication between specialists and disciplines, an intercommunication at the level of professions. Which means respect for yourself, but also for the others, understanding the multiple cultural valences, capacity of listening, but also of speaking, of knowing and making yourself known, accepting the premise that behind your own knowledge and convictions there may exist values of similar authenticity, convictions as strong as those of other individuals, but also to other groups on other meridians of the globe.
In fact, this objective is not as easy to attain, and the causes for such are not only of a subjective nature, are not related only to the lack of will, but are intrinsic to human condition as well. If a specialist has to be permanently in alert, and familiarised to the last discoveries and theories in the field of its profession, it goes without saying that he has no time to eavesdrop, nor to substantiate what is happening in other homes, regardless their respectability. The specialist should love his profession (obligation which, most of the time, was chosen by himself, which was his option), he starts off from the premise that nothing is more useful in this world than the concerns related to his trade. Nothing wrong with this, on the contrary, if he believed something else, the result would not be but a rush thing, that is a termination, forgiving thing. The secrete would consist in finding the time that each of us is ready to grant to listening (reading, researching, seeing) to the word of the other one who, in his turn, considers that there is nothing more important in this world than the problem haunting him and requiring immediate settlement.
Communication of thoughts, sentiments, successes and unfulfilment, this is the only solution of people and communities survival on this earth. History shows us that there survived only those people and cultures having found out the way to communication and having imposed values and not those that, let us say so, benefited from favourable climate conditions, riches, had noble scopes, were right in a certain situation, etc.
Communication means survival and teaching the other ones how to survive. Communication is the first signal of life. It is the scream of the newly – born child, the proof that it is living. It is the whisper of the teenager that he is living and that he took notice of the special living, that is, of another person. It is the unsafe muttering of the old man not ready to fade away yet. Communication is the air we breath from the morning till the evening, and for some people, for those who know that the owl symbolises the capacity of seeing through darkness, it is also the air they breath from the evening till the morning, when reading or writing a book. A book that cannot be but the book of their own life which they do not accept to be buried.
All the above statements do not pretend to be definitions worthy of bearing in mind. It would be daring. A simple evidence of two American researchers highlighted more than 130 definitions of communication, evidently none of them being indisputable or imposed to the majority. Despite such a generous range of definitions, and from the moment when the above mentioned work[4] was circulating only as a pre-print,  „objections emerged from specialists of various formation, which none of the proposals retained by the two could satisfy. Professor Mihai Dinu gives special coverage to the difficulties raised by the definition in a whole chapter – part of a speciality volume. On this occasion it was evidenced that, almost in each secondary field of biology, sociology or information sciences (cybernetics, telecommunications etc.), the term is used in a particular, specialised acceptation, not once diverging with the consecrated meaning in other fields of knowledge.” [5]
However we maintain the definition of researchers from the University of Amsterdam : »In our opinion, the transfer of information may become a communication process only if the sender has the intention to cause a certain effect upon the receiver. Thus, communication becomes a process by which a sender transmits information to the receiver through a cannel, with a view to produce certain effects upon the receiver.» [6]
In this case, if communication is useless with no interlocutor, we have to find out what is its scope, what for we communicate, with or without effort, by observing or not observing certain rules.

1.2. Capacity to communicate defines human personality
            Behind any personal conviction or theory assimilated during the lectures or from readings, the day-by-day reality proves that relationships between people depend on individual’s capacity to make himself understood and to understand the other ones. The question Who am I? is, consciously or not, one of the concerns that fret everybody. Each individual wants to know who he is, both by comparison to his own values, and to the way the others define him. We want to know why people watch in a certain way and not in another way, why some of our fellow men are appreciated, and others not, what is the role of our own declarations and what is the value of the statements of those around us.
       Evidently, we can talk about our parents, children or brothers, in order to introduce our family and put a light on our person, we can present a curriculum-vitae, so that our activity can be read, and we can attach photocopies of the study diplomas and letters of reference. All these are required, but not sufficient: the others shall know us only after we reached to know each other. And the first impact is given by the interpersonal relationship. The interpersonal relationship, at its turn, is not achieved but by communication, and here words play not only an important, but a primordial role. Paul Ricoeur, an authority in the field of linguistics, but not only, underlines the role of an interdisciplinary relationship of the language: “I think there is a field where philosophic researches cross the philosophic researches of the language nowadays. This is the crossing point of Wittgenstein’s researches, linguistic philosophy of Englishmen, phenomenology created by Husserl, Heidegger’s researchers, works of Bultmann school and other schools of neo-testamentary exegesis, comparative history works of religions and anthropology related to myth, rite and faith, - finally, psychoanalysis.”[7]
            Although all species of animals hold methods of communication upon which the information are transferred from an organism to another organism, mankind developed the most complex and subtle system of communication: the language. Such a complex system that it is not only an essential characteristic, but a study, defining and self-defining object as well: the individual speaks about himself, enters the communion (see the origin cumminecare of the word, meaning also joint feeling), but can analyse  (judge) the statement. As the lat. word dicere also means say, pretend and even arrange. It also means commit. And commitment asks achievement. „From Eminescu up to the present day, from a century, Constantin Noica writes, things have been changing: our language has become highly productive [...] What’s impressive at productive truths nowadays is that they have become productive partly because of man conscious intervention. In this change of liberties occurred between man and universe, the individual could imagine for a second that he offered more ". You could think that the same could happen to language: man could stimulate it. But who knows if we ourselves are something else than simple agents of productive truths; and if, punished for them, we do not request their own punishment since, in fact, we are but a mere urge to labour in the boundless of their work..[8]
Most of the time, anthropologists interpret language starting from the 13 features proposed by Charles Hockett. This one characterises language in the following terms:
1.     The vocal-auditory canal. Language is produced by throat and mouth and is caught by ears.
2.     Transmission and direction of the message. The speaker can be heard in all directions. The listener may hear a speaker regardless the direction where from the message arises.
3.     Rapid disappearance. As soon as they have been muttered, words dissipate without any possibility of being recovered.
4.     Interchange. All speakers of a language can both use and understand the same words.
5.     Total feedback. The speaker can hear all what he is saying, can monitor, correct or assume his enunciation.
6.     Specialisation. Uttering does not serve other purpose but communication; as specialised system, it may be also used when the speaker or hearer are involved in other activities.
7.     Semantics. There are systematic connections between uttered words and standard meanings.
8.     Arbitrary. Such connections between words and their meanings are convention problems; thus, it is possible to create new words with new meanings and to change the meaning of an ancient word.
9.     Discretion. Human beings may produce a large range of sounds, but each language uses a certain segment of such sounds, without pushing the human capacities at maximum.
10.  Contextual changes. People may use language in order to communicate about things and events that are not in the immediate context. Such remote events can be separated by time, distance or both of them – some of them include accounts about something which has never occurred.
11.  Productivity. People often use statements never before uttered in the same way and may discuss about things (as inventions and discoveries) never noticed before.
12.  Traditional transmissions. Certain people seem to be genetically programmed with predisposition for learning a foreign language (or even more). Despite all these, the specific language of an individual is learnt by interaction with the society – it is not sent genetically.
13.  Duality of the system. The language is systemised on at least two levels: phonemes – sounds recognised by the language as significant, but which considered separately, are meaningless, and morphemes: units indivisible as meaning of a language.
It is important to become conscious of the fact that each of these elements defines our personality. First, nothing of what we say can be denied as being our uttering, and secondly because all we say, inclusively the way we say it, is the result of thinking, feeling, of the momentary temper. To be brief, each sound says something about us, about that momentary ego or the essential ego.
No matter how much aloof persons declare that they are not interested in other persons’ opinion, they do not care for what they are considered or said about, the truth stands at the other antipode: there are, we are individual tempers, special personalities, we are persons, we exist, we give account of our existence, as the chronicle writer would have said, and we have obligations to signal our presence and to take act of other individuals’ existence. The modest ones have to admit it as well, we want to be liked, appreciated, even loved! Nothing wrong with this, on the contrary.

1.3. Scope of communication
Generally, people communicate having in mind certain scopes. During the day-by-day activity, at home, office, in stores, communication arises most of the time without being conscious about the importance of such act, and without putting the problem of the                                     analysis. Such scopes and means are exploited natively, are the result of certain experiments and only sometimes require special programming. Most analysts consider that the individual communicates: 
         To inform.
      In this case, the individual thinks or feels that he has got an information. For example, he wakes up in the morning, looks through the window, notices that it is a nice weather and feels the need to share what he noticed to other people. Some other times, he is hungry and communicates this thing to the person « specialised » to solve such problem. But the individual is not only a selfish being that communicates only his own needs. He goes, for example, to his office and at the crossing he meets an old beggar. He would give him some money, but is not sure, looking at the senile face of the old man, that the latter would use the money for food and not drink. Before making his mind up or doing a bountiful gesture, the colour of the stop light changed, the car starts off, and the individual of our example reaches at his offices, tells a colleague what happened to him, the colleague tells him a similar case, and thus communication takes a different path: both of them try and look for an answer to the question «what shall we do with under-privileged person». Such simple impressions may however be a real balm for the ailing person waiting for them. That’s why, it is good to inform those around us about trivial truths as well:
- Today, the meal seems to have been better than ever;
- You have got a nice hairdressing today;
- You gave me an answer that satisfies me;
- I shall remember with delight what you told me today;
- I hadn’t thought about the solution you gave me;
- I don’t know what should I do without your help;
- It’s a great pleasure to have such students;
- I am happy thinking that some of you shall become well known personalities.
- It’s so good to be with you that I wouldn’t even go away.
- It’s so much since I had such a receptive class.
- If you weren’t by my side, I would feel so alone.
- I wasn’t a very healthy child, but I strengthened myself  later.
- The unpleasant fact your are charged of does not characterises you.
- Today it was a lovely day for our family.
- I wish we went together in a trip.

To convince
      There are not a few situations in which our opinions, although simply and clearly exposed, clear as daylight, as one says, do not seem to the interlocutor as worthy as to be maintained. If it were only about the passing clouds that may bring or not rain and, implicitly the necessity of taking or not the umbrella, the things would not be serious. Most of the time, our convictions justify our facts, attitudes, decisions, and they have serious consequences related to our own life or that of the others. Reality convinces us that a few actions may be initiated and finalised if you are or feel alone. In order not to miss a project, you also need some other peoples’ help. For this you bring arguments for the truth you believe in, talk, explain, resume if you do not obtain the estimated result. All these cannot occur outside communication. Such situations may be rendered efficient by introducing arguments such as:
                        - I think what you say it’s correct, but shall we also think about ...
                        - It’s not quite my opinion, but I have read a study proving that ...
                        - I thought the same for a while, but now I think...
- I know that truth is not reached to by vote, but some persons I talked with considered that ...
- I thought very much about the solution I sugested, try to support me;
- Maybe I would have a similar conduct if I were a student, but now I think that...
- It’s quite difficult what I ask for now, but this effort shall be rewarded as next classes ...
- Don’t be discouraged by the bad mark you received; there shall soon come sufficient occasions to be quits, I can hardly wait you to be among the first ones.
- I know it’s convenient to work all by yourself, but our colleagues need help today, and we may ask their help tomorrow.  
         To impress
       The experiences we all live prove that we make up our minds in a quite difficult manner when we have to take an important decision, having long-term or decisive consequences for our life or for other people’s life. It is much harder when we have to make other people take a risky decision. At the beginning we resort to arguments we think are logical and cannot be denied. Soon, we realise that logic is not enough or does not match the way of thinking of the interlocutor or this one does not give up once he said „yes, you’re right”. In this case, we bring forth sentimental arguments, we say something to impress, we ask him to remember an event that marked him, we resort to situations in which, although it was not logical what he had done or said, something happened although initially the results seemed to be different. If it is necessary, we sing, dance, we beat our breast, we laugh or cry. That is to say, we want to impress as words are not enough to express ourselves. But we have finally communicated all we had to say, all we had on soul, as would probably be more correct.
         To cause a reaction, to cause an action
      As above, the scope is that the person listening to us should not remain as we found him: still sad, still insensible, still alone. We know that our fellow men need a change of life, may be they asked for our help, being conscious that they cannot succeed all by themselves. We talk to them, bring arguments, impress them, we may cause them some sincere tears, but we cannot stop here: tears might have run in our absence as well. In fact, our goal is to make such persons do something, find a motivation for their action, feel themselves still strong after our leaving. For this, we communicate and transmit our intentions, arguments, affection. We may even give a helpful hand, if necessary, to stir the stuck carriage. We make together the first steps with the sick person who needed to be encouraged in order to stand up. We say a story to the child who refuses to say a word, we are not content until the one living by us is ready to make the first step, grip something. Even a straw, when he’s almost drowning himself: we managed to revive his instinct of conservation, this is a sign that he wants to live and needs something to grip.
                        - I know you well, I know you can get over this situation.
                        - I don’t sustain it can be settled in a jiffy, but we can begin.
- Chinese are shorter than us, have shorter legs, and despite this they sustain that long ways begins with the first step, so let us do the first step;
- I might be wrong, but think about what are you going to win if you manage, while if you do not manage you lose nothing; anyway the experience shall be useful in future.
- It’s OK, you are not interested, but do it for me now;
                        - I don’t say you are wrong, I just say you should try once more;
                        - You, who settled situation x., certainly shall settle ... as well
- I don’t think you’ll be happy to know that you could have done such thing but you didn’t even want to begin it.
                        - If I know that you are by my side, I shall work more confidently.
                        - You don’t need me, although it could seem so, I am the one who needs you.

To amuse
      Probably it’s hard for us to understand, especially after having turned a certain age, how important is to amuse ourselves. What’s curious is that when we amuse ourselves, everything seems very natural to us, but we cannot understand what are the reasons for the other people to amuse themselves. Even this situation is amusing, and sometimes it creates not only ridiculous, but also comical situations. From the one-year-old child to the most respectable old man, human being needs to amuse himself. Amusement is the most pregnant form of detachment, detachment is a sign of serenity, serenity is a sign of superiority, unoffensing superiority is a sign of divinity. We feel like amusing ourselves and we feel like entertaining those around us as well. Thus, we communicate our fellow feelings, we fall down or raise to our fellow’s temper without putting him in a difficult position. We can even amuse ourselves of the most serious things – let’s remember the balloon game (the globe) performed by the actor Charles Chaplin playing the part of Adolf Hitler with his ludicrous moustache. But we communicate our state of amusement only by winking, sticking out our tongue, moving a finger or stealing a cherry from the slice of cake … The way we communicate our amusement or want to stir up an amusement state to our friends depends on the education and civilisation degree. Daniel Bougnoux considers that understanding the jokes, humour, play in general implies each time a re-centring or change of plan as against the common messages. Life in society, multiplying our relations with the other, contains various framing effects, that constitute for the profanes a similar number of traps or possibilities of making some blunders (as Proust’s work proves it, for example).[9]
         We can easily see how important is the amusement from the attention granted to it by the mass media, especially television, the success of the audience being assured, at almost any program, by the presence of a comic more or less humorous. But humorous people, ready to amuse themselves, are looked for by all of us. Nobody likes the company of gloomy people, nor down in the mouth faces. Of course, there is also a reverse side when somebody wishing to be nice or to chill out people, finds himself joking without considering the place and the moment of the action. But let us postpone such contexts. For now, just a few tricks:
   - Say a cue from a well known play and pretend you do not know the name of the character.
   -  When somebody is sad, ask him to give an account of an event you both took part in.
   - Ask him to recall the object you once dropped and caused a hilarious situation.
- Play the part of an angry one on a theme similar to that having upset such person.
                        - Be angrier than he /she is, pushing it to an absurd limit.
                        - Recall a hilarious event from your childhood when you were foolish.
                        - Say what you felt like when you first put on a hat.
- How your mother caught you looking for change in her bag and what unlikely excuse you uttered.
                        - How you looked to the moon when you first kissed your partner.
                        - How did you use to imagine yourself, as a youth, with beard and spectacles.
         To make ourselves understood
      We are not understood, this is the biggest annoyance of our lives. When we come to this finding it is quite bad, as we give up struggling, we do not look for arguments any more, we do not take our opponents into account any more. The argument that it is impossible for us to make ourselves understood has, psychologically speaking, a positive effect: we deceive ourselves that we are not understood because we are not like other people, they cannot understand us, as they are not endowed with our capacity, they are inferior to us. But it is the very aim of communication to make ourselves understood, to think that our arguments can penetrate, can transform people, can modify their convictions and feelings. Our dilemma consists in the fact that most people accuse the other ones that they do not understand. None of us is called up to make himself understood by the population of the earth, but only by those few people we are in relation with. It is good to know that we do not have to understand all people, but only those who are by our side and expect us to understand them. It is essential that when we express an opinion we do not do it as if it were the absolute truth, regardless of how much we believe to be right – and it is good to be convinced, but not to disturb by parading such confidence. Therefore, we could say:
                        - It is not the discovery of the century, it is a conclusion I got to;
- I say it as if I were absolutely positive about it, but I know that my statement supports nuances which I do expect you to underline.
- I give much consideration to this opinion, but I cannot say that if you do not accept it I get angry.
- I think I would think the same if I were in your shoes, however I try to ...
                        - You are right, but let’s see if we could find another variant.
                        - It’s almost the same thing I believe, let us ask ... too.
                        - Your mate is closer to your concerns than I am; what does he think?

To express our points of view
The capacity to express an original point of view on a certain situation is a sign of real personality. All people think they have something to say, and this is natural, as otherwise we would communicate by gestures, formulas or we wouldn’t even communicate at all; but what is really important is to talk, to define ourselves, to say what we think and feel, in short, to perceive reality by our own eyes, by our own mind. By our heart. Mihai Ralea used to say that a literary censor is not but a reader expressing points of view on a certain work. To be capable to have a personal opinion on the essential truth, this is the supreme target of an authentic intellectual. And the personal point of view is not but a problem related to aesthetics or psychology of the individual, is the very problem of life and death. There are circumstances when we have to utter a word, a simple yes or no, and this reply leaves a trace on our destiny once and for all. Let us recall the scene of Jesus Christ’s judgement, the moment in front of Pilat’s chair. This one asks the Man staying before him if he is God’s son. Jesus answers: you say it. Pilat counter-attacks: but what’s the truth? Jesus does not answer. God-Son does not answer the question that is the truth. As at this question you answer all by yourself, and the terrestrial and future life depends on such answer, for those who gave the answer to a previous question related to eternal life.
To get a change of conduct or attitude
      However often and convincingly we would declare »I’ve got not personal interest, I say it for your sake … », we still have to admit that, in reality, we wish our interlocutor reached a conclusion we’ve already come to, we want him to say what we say or suggest to him. From this point of view, communication is manipulative: we want that, by words and indirect arguments, the other people be made according to our own image and resemblance. Most of the time, people involved in other people’s education and formation have noble purposes: the aim is to positively change somebody’s conduct. Good is pursued by parents, by grandparents, and by pedagogues and teachers. Natural impulses to disorder and disobedience are opposed by the society communication with positive, transforming purposes. What pedagogues pursue in fact is that the beneficiaries of communication become masters of their willing, and when they remain alone to behave like trained and integral beings. But we quite often forget that good should be provided in a professional manner, when it is required, and to the person who does not ask for it. Otherwise, we shall encounter the situation in which the student is late to school because he wanted to do a Christian deed: he helped an old woman cross the street, and such operation was quite long, as the poor old woman refused to cross the street. I don’t remember the name of the student, nor his form…  

      To be accepted etc.
      It seems that there is nothing more frustrating than the feeling of not being accepted in the group we want. We all are, at a certain time, like a banished Cain running away from people as he didn’t like to live as his brothers, but who may not live alone either. He fears people, but not so much as to want to die killed by them. Or disregarded by them. Or ignored by them. Generally, we are not accepted as we do not manage to make ourselves known, we did not send the adequate message or the messages were not properly received. Communication aims at transforming the scream in reality: I am here, I am like you, accept me, if I am not exactly as you are, do not despair, train me, I am ready to listen to you. Psychologists noticed with pertinence that all reprovable acts of children and grown up are originated by the feeling of frustration, they did not benefit from love and a special attention (or they only believed so), and later on, in order to be observed, to be given attention or even to revenge themselves as they would have been despised or not understood, infringes the social rules.
Art of dialogue
Many of us express our dissatisfaction as to the fact that our fellows do not understand us, although that’s what we want. The surprise is even greater when we find out that the one we would have liked to understand us says the same thing about us. To know how to talk efficiently to somebody else means to know to ask questions and receive the answer. Practically, without realising, we take part in interviews every day, and as one of Moliere’s characters did not know that we was creating fiction when he talked, we do not know that we are journalists... But we can realise that talking is as important as a profession, and interviewing somebody is not an attribute characteristic to television stars, who, most of the time, unfortunately, did not learn the lesson. This is not the case of those who shall read these pages. Look here, they start learning right now! Interview means any conversation planned and controlled between two or several parties, having a certain object, at least for one of the participants, and during which both parties talk and listen in their turn.[10]
Conditions of efficiencies:
-        Have a purpose
-        Be performed according to a plan
-        Permit a controlled interaction.
Purpose of the interview:
-        Selection for a job
-        Hearing a request
-        Analysis of the activity.
Objectives of the interview:
-        Obtaining information
-        Sending information
-        Clearing up information.
Classification according to purpose:
-        Sending information (interviews professor-student; news-interviews for mass media)
-        Identifying conduct or convictions changes (sales, education, consulting, performance assessment)
-        Settling problems or taking decisions (interviews for employment, medical interviews, consulting, procedures for settling requests, parents – professors debates)
-        Researching and discovering new information (in academic research, social programmes, market research, polls, police enquiries, literary critics).
Make yourself clear! Why is this interview taking place?
-        What kind of interview it is?
-        What do you hope for?
-        Are you looking for or furnishing information?
-        Is it meant to change convictions or conducts?
-        What the nature of problems requiring settlement?
-        If you cannot convince, is there any possibility of an honourable withdrawal?
Be careful! Never initiate an interview without knowing very well what you want to obtain. Don’t start from the premise I shall handle it somehow on the spot…
Who’s the person
-        Analyse the one you have to talk to.
-        Try to learn as much as possible about such person before the interview.
-        Make yourself clear what the reactions (objections) are.
-        Is he able to decide what you ask from him?
Where and when
-        Analyse the context
-        What’s the venue of the interview? Your office or his. In a vehicle? While driving?
-        Can it be interrupted?
-        At what point of the day does it take place?
-        What happened before beginning the interview?
-        What’s your experience in this field?
-        Does the other person need to be informed beforehand or just reminded on the theme.
What are you going to talk about
Define the subjects that should be covered and the types of questions you want to ask.
How shall be the interview
-        Determine the structure of the interview.
-        How do you attain your objective?
-        How are you going to behave yourself?
-        Are you going to begin in friendly terms and to enter directly the subject?
-        Do you have to be cautious?
-        Will you mostly talk or listen to the other party?
-        Are you going to begin with general questions leading to the special ones?
-        Are you going to make him first say detail, so that you may reach to general information and estimations afterwards?
-        How are you going to arrange the furniture?
-        How are you going to prevent interruptions?
-        How do you stop him, if he has no intention to do this?
-        What do you do if he aggresses you verbally or in any other mode?

Structure of an interview
-        Notwithstanding the aim of the interview, it should be carefully opened, as all the other things depend upon it. If the relations are tense, they shall continue as such  up to the end.
-        Establish an interpersonal communication report. Start from the premise that you both are in the same boat.
-        Don’t fool yourself: at the end of the interview you both shall be either appreciated, or laughed at, just because you failed the interview. They will say, he (she) did not know, but the other one seemed to be smarter, why didn’t he /she …
-        Guiding in a certain direction should be given sincerely, and the other one shall consent to it.
Beginning the interview
-        Resume the problem from the point of view of the interviewed or of the interviewer.
-        Explain the problem, confess how you – the interviewer – discovered the problem.
-        Ask a piece of advice or help for the problem under discussion.
-        Suggest what the advantages of the interviewed are if he /she is co-operating.
-        Refer to points of view known by the interviewed.
-        Refer to causes or origins of the problem.
-        Enunciate the name of the person having guided you to this interview.
-        Present the company, the firm, the interests you represent.
-        Ask a concrete time from the time of the interviewed: 10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.
-        Ask direct questions so that the interviewed get involved and answer, feeling that they are addressed to him, not to any other person.

How to ask questions and how to verify

Direct question or closed answer question

      -    Are you nervous?
-        Have you worked for us so far?
-        Where were you when you watched the accident?
-        Did you feel sorry when you found about this death?
Bipolar questions with yes – no answers
-        Did you really see what you say?
-        Do you think you would like to work for us?
-        Would you like more love from your wife?
-        Are you happy when you go home?
Target question
-        Do you think it was a good summer for the crop?
-        It’s meet and proper for the rain to stop after so many floods?
-        You don’t have enough money from a month to another, do you?
Question suggesting the answer
      -    Shall people agree to such an abuse?
      -    Is there anyone content with the increase of the fuel price?
-        Did he think about the consequences when he took such a stupid decision?
Question with open answer
-        Tell me how you see the problem.
-        What makes you think that?
-        How have you learnt about it?
-        How have you reached such a conclusion?
-        Why do you think this to be the only solution?
-        Would you explain it in details?
-        Give me some details, would you?
-        Where do you see the mistake?
Helping questions
-        Tell me something about yourself?
-        Would you like to say something about a close person?
-        What’s your current concern?
-        Would you like to be somewhere else now?

[1] See Handbook of Public Relations and Communications, by Philip Lesly (Editor), Hardcover, 900 p, 5th edition February 1998.
[2] Dennis Wilcox, Public relations. Strategies and tactics, Ed. Harper-Collins, 1992, p. 188.

[3] Daniel Bougnoux, Introducere în ştiinţa comunicării, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2ooo, p. 24.
[4] Vezi Dance şi  Frank  Larson Carl, The Functions of Human Communications. A Theoretical Approach, New York, Rinehart and Winston, 1976.
[5] Mihai Dinu, Comunicarea, Bucureşti, Editura Algos, 2000, p.8.
[6] J.J. van Cuilenburg, O. Scholten, G.W. Noomen, Ştiinţa comunicării, Bucureşti, Ed. Humanitas, 1998, p. 27.
[7] Paul Ricoeur, Despre limbaj, simbol şi interpretare, in Despre interpretare. Eseu asupra lui Freud, Editura Trei, 1998, pag. 11.
[8] Constantin Noica, Creaţie şi frumos în rostirea românească, Bucureşti, Ed. Eminescu, 1973, p. 128.
[9] Daniel Bougnoux, Op. cit., p. 28.
[10] Nicki Stanton, Comunicarea, Bucuresti, Societatea Ştiinţă & Tehnică SA, 1995, pag. 45 şi urm.

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