miercuri, 19 februarie 2014

Petre Anghel, Lecture 3. Active communication

Lecture 3. Active communication

3.1.  Communication elements
            3.2. The sender  features
            3.3.. Culture, communication and personality
            3.4. Interview between two persons

·       To become familiar with  the elements of an efficient communication.
·       To define the receiver and to assume the qualities necessary for a communication strategy
·       To realise the importance of culture and of life experiences in an effective communication.

·       Show to the participants in the course an object which might be part of the props of a show ( if necessary even a kitchen object).
·       Ask some participants in the course (two or three) to describe them.
·       The other participants must write down what was important and was not in order to figure out what object it was about if they had not been present.

3.1.  Communication elements
Gary Johns, specialised in organisational behaviour, takes over from Families and Work Institute a poll showing that the main factor in influencing the subjects’ decision to employ within a certain company was the open communication. Other elements contributing to the communication appreciation were:
- General competition
- Activity specialisation
- The high level of the organisational changes.
The importance of the communication was also highlighted by the analysis of the manner in which the organisation members spend their time at work. „Detailed studies on the productive workers show that they participate in 16 to 46 communication episodes an hour. Even the previous figure - 16 – proves the existence of a communication episode at each four minutes. Climbing the hierarchical scale, the time for communication is longer and longer. For the direct supervisors of the production points the studies show that between 20 and 50 % of the work time is spent on verbal communication. When the  written communications are added the figures go up to 29-64%.
At the average and upper management level it is revealed that between 66 and 89% of the managers’ time is spent communicating – face-to-face and on the phone talks. Since these figures exclude other types of communication – like reading and writing letters, notes and reports – it is obvious that the obligation to communicate represents the content almost exclusive of the tasks of many managerial functions. For instance, during one year, the president of Honda company made 99 speeches to his employees on the subject they need to excel in the fight for diminishing the exhaust gases emanations.[1]
The information may not be sent if there is no communication, and the process during which this transmission is carried on, named communication process, although essential, starts from a simple, elementary action – speech. However, despite the easiness to communicate and the chances generally human to be able to transmit signals to the people around us, it is an illusion which the pupils and students develop when they think that they know the subject to an exam or the answer to a question, but they cannot utter it, they cannot find their words. Having the native opportunity to communicate, is one thing and being able to communicate, having something to communicate and knowing how to do it in other way than uttering some sounds, syllables, words, sentences or phrases, is a completely different thing. We only know something the moment when we can express that something. The idiom De omni re scibili et quibusdam aliis seems to clearly explain the dilemma and the confusion. Its first part, de omni re scibili, belongs to the Italian scholar Pico della Mirandola,[2] which was highly confident in his knowledge, and for a good reason it seems. The wise expression I know everything and something more is also thought to have been said by him. But Voltaire,[3] more lucid than him, added to this expression the words, with an ironic value, et quibusdam aliisand about many others, meaning that beyond the things a person thinks it knows there is also an infinity of other knowledge.
A truth, an information, a feeling become ours the moment  we utter them or we are able to name them in your mind. Our ancestor Adam only knew what kind of animals, fish, birds had to deal with the moment he named them. In order to know them he saw them passing in front of him, analysed them and then said which was his impression on them ...
The elements at the base of a communication process are the following:
·       The sender
·       The receiver
·       The message
·       The communication channels
·       The encoding
·       The decoding
·       The feedback
As previously shown, the communication requires each time, at least a sender and a receiver, irrespective of the number of persons involved in this activity. Any type of communication is made of the simple succession of the following stages:
             Sending – the sender wishes the real receiver or its assumed receiver to understand something, preferably exactly what he considers that it must be transmitted that very moment under the form of a regular message. The sender may be a person, a group or an institution. The sender is the source of the message, is somebody who has a certain reason for sending the message. The sender is the only person able to encode the message which he will send, this being afterwards subject to some changes. But from this right of encoding, which he assumes by himself, it derives however a series of obligations and risks, which, the receiver must assume as well. We mention this because many senders consider that their task ended as soon as they have sent the message, they launched it, they spoke, they said what they had to say, and from now on it is no longer their business what the others understood, and if they did not understand it means that they were not able. This attitude is called anti-communication and it shall not contribute in any way to the communication or the creation of a communication climate. Let’s take an example. Somebody utters the words: ”I am penniless” and he is convinced that he said all he had to say, then he wonders why the persons around him do not react in any way. If the above words are uttered within a family, after a longer discussion, then they might express something correctly, but if they are uttered in general, they may mean:
-        I have no money in my pocket, so I must fill my wallet,
-        I really don’t know what to do, I have nothing to eat today,
-        I cannot answer for your request for money,
-        Today I must give up going to the market,
-        Today I spent a lot of money, I wasted all my resources,
-        I shall have to borrow some money.
             And so on. If we don’t know to whom and for what we address, the mere above information may raise severe misunderstandings, if, for example, we said it thinking that mother, being around, shall miraculously intervene offering a large amount of money on hearing that our pocket is empty.
             Encoding – the message is encoded by the sender and logically structured – in our case under the form of language. It is important that this code be known both by the sender as well as by the receiver. If otherwise, no matter how valuable it might be, at a theoretical level, the message, without a correct reception from all the points of view ( logical, practical, temporal) becomes useless. There is nobody among us who has never sent an important information, but which proved to be useless due to the fact that we spoke a language unknown for our interlocutor or the other way round. Equally, it is useless to have a correct information, if it was not received in time. For instance, it’s no use knowing the winning numbers for the lottery, since the drawing took place and since we hadn’t bought any ticket. The same goes for a cry, a moan, a look. The child sends them, but if they are not understood by the person who can and must interfere, the message value becomes substance-less.
             Sending – when the sender is satisfied with the message encoding the latter is sent. The sending form may be: verbal, written, graphical, visual etc. The moment of its accomplishment is relaxant. Each of us has seen faces radiating happiness when they managed to say it, to take somebody down a peg or two, to say on the phone what they had to say, afterwards being disappointed because the anticipated effect had not been achieved: the person who has been told the plain truth did not hear, did not understand, did not become upset, the phone number was wrongly dialled etc, etc. Therefore the job is not ended and we may not say that we are satisfied until we are sure that the message reached the receiver, and the latter perceived it correctly. It is useless to write a note and leave home quietly, knowing that we have told some friends not to bother us anymore, we must also make sure that they received the note. It is incorrect to think that we did our job by writing on a bottle in the kitchen, careful, do not touch, contains chlorine, if we did not make sure that persons who cannot read won’t have access to this vessel. Finally, somebody who works on the radio and broadcasts a show may not be calm if the specialised personnel wouldn’t be sure that the broadcast pierces the ether and the signals may be intercepted by those persons owning devices with certain technical characteristics which form our objective.
             Receiving – the message passes the point of transfer, from the sender to the receiver. This is usually achieved by means of the communication channels. No sender may excuse himself for not being taken into consideration laying all the blame on the sending channel. For this reason, in order to be efficient, but also in order to establish an adequate psychological climate, the sender must continuously wonder whether his message is taken over and not communicate before being sure of the transmission channel function. The specialised institutions are aware of this thing, and for this reason whenever we send an e-mail to a wrong address we are informed on the error, we are not left with the impression that we have communicated, when in fact the receiver does not exist or we gave him a wrong name. Even in the most common daily activity we must make sure that we transmitted the message correctly or that we received it correctly, because we are almost sender and receiver at the same time. And because most of us speak easily than we listen, apostle Iacov urges us to listen more and speak less: You should know, my beloved brothers: any man should listen more, speak less and very rarely get angry”.[4]
             Decoding – the receiver decodes the message received using a code for processing the message. The code is usually the same with the code used by the sender. The receiver is the decoder of the message, the one who transforms the message into ideas, thoughts, after the decoding process. The decoder must also verify if he is the receiver, if he received the message correctly and if he understood exactly what the sender intended. The auxiliary verbs have the most complex senses: to be, to have and many more may be real traps. For instance, to go needs to be decoded in many situations, because it is one thing to say that mother went, in a context known by the listener meaning she went shopping, and it is a completely different thing to add the words she’s gone after telling an acquaintance that my mother was very ill the winter she was gone …
             Comprehension – In order to achieve a correct communication the receiver must understand the idea transmitted  by the sender. Thus, the announcement made by a driver saying what station is next, the announcer from the train station, the air hostess in a plane, the television star etc. becomes a simple lips movement or something noisy tickling or disturbing the ear. „The informational transfer becomes communication when the information contained in the message is understood and an adequate action is taken. The researchers think that the informational transfer is a necessary but not sufficient condition, the comprehension being also necessary. Maria Cornelia Bârliba signals „an amplification of communication both relative to the means (the introduction of the computer) as well as to the forms mediated by it. The result becomes obvious at the level of the content which modifies its nature.”[5] In this case, the communicative support bears the following metamorphoses:
a)     transmission by means of technical channels;
b)     product of the data banks;
c)     combination between the natural and artificial message;
d)     huge volume; confrontation to a series of communicational barriers characteristic to the computerised period.
             Action – the receiver starts acting as a consequence to the message. Robert Escarpit thinks that the process of communication does not consist only of sending and receiving, but also of participating, at all levels, to an infinity of different changes intersecting between them.”[6] The moment the communication is perceived as also containing the comprehension component, the latter becomes „a means for an active, practical attitude of the subject, in order to formulate some purposes of the human action.”[7] However, the receiver  coming into action must not be mistaken for the concrete action. It is unproductive and out of the essence of the communication act to pompously ask what did you gain that you’ve heard, found out, seen …
             This way of thinking is the result of an ignorance of the formation and education process. The human is not a living being who can immediately react to the stimuli as the Russian Pavlov’s dog does. After hearing, seeing or smelling the human takes the  time to think, to choose. He receives the information and takes attitude, by reacting. The refuse to act is not always a sign that he hasn’t received the message. He received it but he refuses to play the game. In this case, those who ask what is the radio good for, what is the book good for what is the music good must rather ask themselves what are they living for, what are they doing with their life.
             The results of communication cannot be seen cyclically, just like reaping the wheat and harvesting the corn, not even periodically like melons or cucumbers. The results of the communication and the actions appeared as a consequence to the transmission of a message can be seen in time, and only those who trust the human being know and can wait. In fact, the essayist Mihai Ralea thinks that postponement is the most significant feature which differentiates the man from the animal. Waiting, the Romanian psychologist writes, taking over the ides from Pierre Janet, assumes a series of psychical abilities. ”The normal waiting consists of preparing during a period as long as possible the separation between excitement and the end of the act. Any psychological act involves a stage, be it very short, of preparation. A series of other stimulation which gather add to this stage, are convoked and together may lead to relief. It brings a plus of energy to the psychological act which is about to take place”. 

3.2. The sender features
One needs a reason to send a message. One must also have a purpose. And one sends it due to a certain cause. For instance, the child cries because he is hungry or because of pains he cannot utter orally yet. When he is a few years old the child pulls his granny’s skirt to show her a dog crossing the street. He can speak now, but he discovered that there is also a body language: jerking the hand of the accompanying person. A young man writes a poem to a girl, because he fell in love, otherwise neither would he waste paper nor would he know that he is the descendant of Dante Aligheri as regards writing or of Romeo Montaque as regards feelings. And we can give further examples, but they would only prove the same thing, meaning: a normal person does not talk so as not to get bored he only talks for a certain reason. Given the situation of the verbal language, we can extend the statement over other types of communication too. For example, nobody shall write on the walls of his house We sell fish, if they wouldn’t actually sell it. And if he is in the mood for jokes and he has no reason to do what he promised, the pitcher might not go so often to the well that it comes home broken at last, and somebody might even get really mad he is not offered what he was promised. Speaking of the proverb from the above sentence, our folklore is rich in proverbs which establish a relationship between the message and the motivation.
 For instance, here are a few proverbs: A word flew from your mouth, but you had better coughed; Many words will not fill a bushel; Say the right word at the right time; He who gives fair words teaches right; To talk non-sense; To talk tripe; She talks to waste her breath, etc, etc.
When sending a message, we must also know whether we do it to signal our presence, to gain somebody’s sympathy, to show that we are available, to give help, to gain something or take something and send forward the information received. All these components are honourable; we must however gain the confidence and motivate the others to receive the message too. Because it is better to remember all the time that it is difficult to gain the confidence of somebody, but it can be very easily lost, and once lost it needs huge efforts to win it back, and the capital which was so hard to obtain is still fragile, subject to suspicion precisely due to the former experience.
the sender quality depends on the social level on its education and culture
It is difficult to persuade somebody that he has nothing to say, it is maybe the most difficult thing in the world. Man suffers, has been through a lot, has thought of a lot of things, has seen and has heard about a lot of experiences. He witnessed an infinity of circumstances in which men like him, be them young or old, rich or poor have been carefully listened to, the listeners’ eyes remained astounded fixed on the speakers, but he was not saying something from the other world, he was talking humanly and it seemed as if he was talking about things he could have said as well. Why isn’t he being listened to now? In most of the cases we are not being listened to because, we don’t know how to communicate. We don’t even know how to communicate. We don’t take into account that before communicating we must first think. Not much, a little, but efficiently. For instance, it must be clear where and to whom we must communicate. As against this we choose our clothes, we shave or not, we choose expensive clothes, the best clothes we have, or the clothes we wear at work. We shall take off our hat or not, and if we shall take it off we shall keep it in our hands, crumpling it, or we shall give it to the host which received us standing in the door not wanting to let us in.
And we haven’t said a word yet. And the person we are visiting and we need is waiting. But she won’t wait till the sunset, she is about to close the door to our face. We have at least a minute or two at our disposal. The education we received, the way we  were formed, the observations we made looking around influence enormously the quality of our communication. It is useless to draw the conclusion that other people succeed because they are lucky, this is not true: people succeed because they trained themselves to succeed. The impulse could have been given by the parents, the teachers but it is them that followed the advice, chose and reached where they wanted.
A writer, an inventor, a high performance sports man, a famous surgeon are not what they are because they simply had an opportunity, but because they trained themselves and have been trained in a certain manner. They have seriously communicated to the others their intention to become something, they have been treated as such, and they have never let somebody down. But above all they told to themselves, within the intrapersonal speech, which we mentioned in another chapter, that they have an objective set and that all their efforts are concentrated on this aim. As it is well-known, due to the social economic changes in our contemporary society, changes which underwent much alertly than during the ancient times and societies, „[8]very differentiated social structures appeared.” The persons within these societies form social categories which are not only numerous, but also very different. Instead of the classical differences – man-woman, rich-poor, young-old, differentiation criteria appear nowadays which are absolutely necessary to be taken into account: the ethnic group, the majority or minority, the political orientation, the number of the urbanised generation, religious affiliation, occupation, education level.
It is quite easily forgettable that the individual is mostly the product of the cultural environment. Trying to be original, or to prove our personality, we do not take into account that we are the product, or the creation, if the first predicative bothered you, of the environment, time, our will but also of the cultural environment we come from or where we agreed to live in.
 The cultural background motivates us in the first place by means of the language. If we accept this truth, the other components of the culture go without saying. The mother tongue influences the speech, the voice is the first intermediary through which we may establish a relationship. The way we dress is influenced by the cultural environment. The same goes for the gestures. We eat as we have been taught, we laugh noisily or we express our joy discreetly, due to the group education or culture. Culture is not the privilege of the persons dedicated to schools or libraries. According to S. Mehedinţi, it represents the sum of all the soul creations (intellectual, ethical, aesthetic) which make the individual’s adaptation to the social background more easy. Just like a leaf with two sides: one bright, turned towards the sun, the other one darker, turned towards the earth (but very important, because through it the plant breathes and feeds every day), the humanity has two aspects : a tellurian one – the civilisation, meaning the material technique; another one celestial – the culture, the sum of all the soul products, through which man searches a complete equilibrium with the rest of the creation and, in general, with the moral universe comprising it.”[9] Since the culture is the real connection between terrestrial and celestial, between man and Good and since it may contribute that much to the vertical communication, between human and the Great Spirit it is not very difficult for us to deduct its role in the horizontal, man-to-man communication,.
Reality is indeed, more complex than some people’s will to introduce it in simplified schemas, and when it is a question of culture several opinions and a nuance are necessary. For instance, Constantin Rădulescu-Motru, thinks that not all the people can have a national culture, thus becoming even more obvious the fact that not even all the individuals would be asked to bring their contribution to its assumption and development. ”There are, he wrote in 1937, people who live for thousands of years without the institutional characters to take roots deep inside their souls. They live in an eternal youth, their souls being influenced either by the biological heredity, or by the geographical environment. The people with national culture may crystallise their historic experience into institutions of spiritual nature, institutions which, once rooted, take over the guidance of their spiritual life. These people manage to guide, according to norms they will dictate, both the manifestations under the influence of the hereditary factor, as well as the manifestations under the influence of the geographical factor.”[10] The individuals may be easily characterised in the same way.
Even this requires talent
Be it a reporter at a newspaper, a novelist, but especially, just a human being (without intending to leave something behind him, as those mentioned above and who wish to become immortals through to the facts of their lives), the individual wishes to communicate a previous experience. What he saw, heard, felt or thought before. Aware or not, he does it feeling that he understood that experience in a unique way, and the interlocutor must share the same original experience, because otherwise … Otherwise, we even wonder how can somebody live without listening to us, how come he cannot understand from the beginning that we wanted to say something extraordinary. It is interesting the fact that if we had had the patience and we had known to listen, if we had cared for our fellows and we had had the ability to feel like them and for them, the above pretensions wouldn’t seem absurd to us anymore. It’s true, not to seem more altruistic than we actually are, that our fellows have their share of guilt too: they didn’t learn to communicate! They don’t have the ability to start their presentation from the very beginning, they cannot summarise the experience, they do not manage to transmit the essence of the message. When this ability in sending the message, the ability of the former experience exists, there are plenty of listeners, moreover, they can’t have enough listening or reading. It is the case of The Thousand and One Nights. One can fool death if he can tell stories.
The most able persons to transmit the previous experience are the writers and it wouldn’t be bad at all if we learnt from them how to talk about us and about our past, if we knew how to grade the original in its combination with the imaginary, if we could make the difference between the truth and the credible, between what has been and what was about to be, or wasn’t meant to be, as Constantin Noica would have said. And from all literature genres, the novel is the most elevated in speaking about the character’s previous experience. Or the author’s. Or of the two, if there shall be any essential difference between the author and the character. Because if we listen to what Flaubert says, and we tend to listen to him, when he admits he is Madame Bovary, then we are not even interested in who the author is and who his hero is. And maybe we won’t be surprised to find out that the writer does nothing else but to tell his previous experience as a child. „If he doesn’t accept to go back into his first childhood telling incredible fairy-tales for himself, he cannot be however that absorbed in his thoughts so as not to evoke even in his dreams the progresses of his observation; and no matter how much he would want to isolate himself from the world which deceives himself, at the same time he cannot help himself trying to get to know it and to master it the more so as this is his only hope to win over the concrete things at least a part from the power he feels frustrated by. For, here, reality has two faces, one that hurts and must be annulled; the other one promising power and interesting him at the highest level, for this reason the child never succeeds in his small sentimental and social education creation if he takes into account this duplicity, making an ingenious compromise between the antagonist tendencies which dominate his thoughts.”[11] For us, when communicating the most important thing is to make the difference between real and imaginary.
Many people wonder why they are not being listened to when they tell different stories of their lives. The answer is more than simple: they don’t know how to narrate. The writer Marin Preda was, probably, one of the most appreciated Romanian writers. He was neither a good speaker nor a pleasant interlocutor, however, despite all these, when telling a story the form he was giving to that story was remarkable, just as remarkable as the answers or the observations related to the behaviour of some artists he knew.
a)     personal relationship
Thousands of years ago Socrates advised us to get to know ourselves. Unfortunately, although we are aware of his advice we do not put it into practice: we are interested in us, we are selfish, egocentric and hypersensitive, but we don’t actually know ourselves. It seems that there is something even worse than this: we wouldn’t admit that we do not know ourselves. And if things are in this way, and it seems to me that they are in this way, the lesser we know the others. For this reason we shall never manage to communicate adequately if we shall not know what is the relationship between us as senders, and the others in their quality as receivers. Knowing what is his relationship with the receiver is one of the first obligations of a message sender. Ignoring this obligation leads not only to the message perturbation but even, to its annulment. Let us imagine what would happen if a radio broadcaster, in an interactive show, wouldn’t take into account, let’s say, the age of his interlocutor, the sex characteristics, the social condition, the needs. The individual called to complain about the economic condition of the pensioners, while the producer wanting to show that he is young and cheerful, he knows how to live his life and he can recommend to others too his own lifestyle, he would say:” it’s Saturday afternoon, think of what you shall do this evening, forget about your daily problems, call a girlfriend and plan a night in the disco. Nothing is more beautiful than holding tight the friend you have just met, lighting her cigarette, and dancing after drinking together a brandy. Let the alcohol get you high, soon you will find a taxi too, don’t worry where it will take you, just remember to give the right address of your apartment or hers …”
But maybe you think that if you are not a reporter you can manage on the spot and you needn’t establish your position as compared to the others. This is again a mistake, because if you don’t know who you are talking to you have all the chances in the world to put your foot in it. It is much better to prepare your appearance by means of an adequate documentation. Try to deduct who is the message receiver from the clothes, from the way the person you address has had her hair cut, and combed, from the make-up, from the perfume used, from the way he smiles, from how insistently he looks at unknown persons, whether it is interested in what you are saying or not.
It is, also necessary to verify whether the relationship established at a certain time with a person means for her what we think it meant,  it is necessary to verify if the memories we keep in our minds overlap the receiver’s memories. A first element which must be taken into account, when he haven’t seen that person for a long time, is the rhythm of the social evolution. If, for example, the acquaintance from five or ten years ago climbed the social scale and became a high official, we shouldn’t remind him that we once theed and thoued each other or that we travelled together in a miserable broken car. Nor other details are recommended: the money which were not enough to pay for the breakfast, the rumbled clothes during a voyage by train at the last class, the torrential rain which caught us without an umbrella, the taxi driver reproaching us that we didn’t give him any tip. Our excuse, when noticing that our former friend doesn’t like these memories, such as for example, he forgot that it was me who pulled him through won’t compensate your rumble.
If we want to boast that we know very well who he once was and draw his attention that we met his former wife a few days ago next time we have all the chances in the world not to recognise us even for a few moments.
 Let’s not fool ourselves: people avoid talking to us or they pretend they don’t hear us not because they are ungrateful, but because we don’t know how to address them. And we don’t know to address them because we do not establish correctly our relationship with the receiver. The most striking is the lack of communication abilities within a family, between parents and children: each generation is convinced that it is not being understood and that the split is so major that a communication way wouldn’t even be possible, and for this reason, with an easiness seldom irresponsible all the possibilities are annulled. Nothing worse and more serious. We can communicate in a simple manner: starting from the premises that it is you who doesn’t understand, and not that you are not being understood. I remember I sometimes asked my elder son to talk to my little son, as he wouldn’t listen to me anymore. I was surprised to hear his answer: I cannot even speak to him, nowadays young people don’t know how to listen … And it was only a difference of five years between them! As the time passed, I understood that it is not the age difference that makes communication impossible, but the attitude, the incapacity to learn to speak for others and to listen to the others, not just to make sure that the others are not right.
b)     psycho-physical attributes
Look who’s talking!, is an astonishment characterising our reactions whenever we don’t want to take into account the message content. In other words, instead of paying attention to what we are being told, we only take into account the receiver. After such an exclamation, it is clear that we want to say that we don’t need such a sender. The sender plays, whether we like it or not, a primordial role in communication. The newscaster is not indifferent to us, although we try to fool ourselves that we only opened the TV to find out what’s new under the sun. It’s true that for this reason we sank into the armchair, but if the broadcast host is ugly or disagreeable, if the newscaster speaks through his nose, if the sound is disturbed, if the light falls on the neck of the editor instead of on his face, his clothes are two sizes bigger or their colour is in contrast with the background, if, if…then we shall look for another channel, no matter how interested we would be in the political news.
At the same time, neither the above-objection, related to the person who is talking is senseless: the persons issuing opinions on behalf of some institutions, organisations or representing the public opinion must be out of any suspicions that it wouldn’t be fit to be expressed in the subject in cause. If this requirement is not observed, instead of seeing or hearing what we want the receiver shall think about the sender’s deficiencies.
The physiological features must be also very carefully dealt with: nobody shall accept a fat woman speaking about rational food nor shall accept a commercial for a mineral water whose protagonist is a man with a red nose on whose face can be easily read the despatch note to the detoxification just signed by the doctor … Similarly, it is not advisable to put persons with jobs known to be usually well-paid, such as surgeons, lawyers, public servants working directly with individuals who need approvals, talk about poverty, moderation or the current needs which overwhelm us.
3.3. Culture, communication and personality
            Not a few times we judge people according to the way they speak or they are dressed. And we are not always wrong, because these components introduce us in the value system of the one studied, they tell us where it comes from, how he thinks, how much of what he is belongs to him or is borrowed. A man is what he wants to be and the first component he refers to, whether he wants it or not, is culture. In its turn, this is a „configuration of the assumed behaviours and their results, whose elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a given society”[12] As Jean Caune also notices, in the definition the emphasis falls on the features of a built personality, coming from a group and facilitating the individual’s integration into the group. Called by the specialists main personality, this abstract model is manifested by means of a certain lifestyle, by means of certain ways of acting, so as the „main personality is the translation in psychological terms of the group’s culture, representing the matrix in which the individual personalities are shaped”.[13] Since culture, as we stated before, is related to the macro components of the society, but also on the group micro specific, the communication phenomena may be analysed at several levels. Among them:
1.     The group level. This can be visible in exchange, dialog, leadership situations.
2.     The individual-environment relationship level. Here the term environment is perceived as including the representation of the individual on it.
The essential is the truth that in the communication process it is compulsory to take into account all the factors which define the individual or the group it belongs to, without overlooking the position the receiver holds the moment of the communication itself or at a social-cultural level. Likewise, it is of major importance to admit the fact that in any society there is a serious or hidden conflict between the different social groups, and these conflicts are the main cause of the changes. Even since 1958, Ralf Dahrendorf analysed the problems raised by this situation and suggested a type of society including the conflict and the change as essential problems. After him, the mass communication theoreticians have drawn up the following synthesis:
1.                    It may be considered that a society is made up of categories and groups of people whose interests are clearly different one from each other.
2.                    All these society members try to follow their interests in competition with the others or to preserve their interests, opposing resistance to the competitive efforts of the society.
3.                    A society thus organised shall permanently experiment conflicts, because its members try to obtain new advantages or to preserve their interests: in other words, the conflict is omnipresent.
4.                    From this competition and conflict process it derives a permanent change process; the societies are not characterised by a state of equilibrium, but by a process of continuos change.
In the United Stated of America, for example, but the case is not isolated, this reality generally characterises any society of a western type, „the communication means are represented by competitor organisations, whose aim is to gather a profit. The competition and the pursuit of their interests are carried on in a complex network of constraints, imposed by courthouses, federal agencies, moral codes of the society, own organisational structures and, last but not least, by those who support them financially. Furthermore, the press and the government are known as old and irreconcilable adversaries”.[14] Obviously, the conflicts do not take place only in this framework. There are daily tensions among the press that needs to know everything and the citizen who needs intimacy and wants to be protected in his home, in his relations with the neighbours, colleagues, wife and secret lovers. There is also a bitter conflict between the state, as holder of secrets of national importance for its safety and the press that considers itself as part of the state salvation process.
This being the reality we should not wonder why the press is loved and hated at the same time. Why are there so many honest foreign citizens among us willing to require their disappearance or, at the best, to give their consent for the apparition of only one newspaper, this being supervised by … police. The reaction is not new and is not characteristic only for the Balkans! In the wonderful country of freedom, America, Samuel Clemens wrote, even from 1873: „That terrible power, the public opinion of this nation, is formed and shaped by a clique of ignorant and infatuated foolish persons, which are not good for digging ditches and for shoemaking and yet they stopped at journalism on their way to the poor men shelter”.[15]

A newspaper is a market
Where wisdom sells its freedom
And the gains are crowned by the crowd.

A newspaper is a game
Where error marks the player’s victory
While the other’s abilities are gained by death.[16]

But let us see Eminescu’s opinion on … a certain part of the press: ”Lately, the press from Bucharest had started to write articles that are one more insignificant than the other on the public instruction, so that a man who can partly understand scholastic issues had to admire the easiness with which our people discuss things that they don’t understand.”[17]
Along the years, the press, coming into contact with its force, has sometimes become out of a defender of democracy, the tyrannical force itself. The sensation journalism, mainly derived from a desire to increase the publication print run, insulted people, destroyed marriages, created complexes, pushed certain persons to fatal acts. The press magnates were faced with threats of losing the readers’ trust and with the even worse possibility to receive orders from outsiders. For these reasons, a number of well-known editors have been forced to “clean” their own offices. The conflicts settlement led to new arrangements and social agreements. Gradually, the press has become less sensational and more responsible.[18] Which we hope will happen as soon as possible in the Romanian press, so that the news in the newspaper be true and trigger at the same time researches and decisions at the level of the involved competence.


Closed questions – open questions

Characterise each of the questions below by circling the right answer: C – closed; O – open:

1.-     How are you?                                                                             C            O
2.-     Do you like being here?                                                                C            O
3.-     Do I know you?                                                                           C            O
4.-     Is it today very hot or is just my impression?                                 C            O
5.-     Do you like our town?                                                                  C            O
6.-     Have you been here before?                                                         C            O
7.-     How long will the draft last?                                                         C            O        
8.-     How shall you spend your holiday?                                               C            O
9.-     Why did the previous statement bother you?                                  C            O
10.-   If you were me, how would you act?                                             C            O
11.-   Do you think it is expensive?                                                        C            O
12.-    Why do you think it is expensive?                                                C            O
13.-    Will you come to see us again?                                        C          O
14.-    When do you think you will come to see us again?                       C            O
15.-    Did it offend you?                                                                       C            O
16.-     Why did it offend you?                                                   C          O
17.-     When could I contact you?                                                         C            O
18.-      You like the prime minister, don’t you?                          C          O
19.-      What do you think of the current government?               C          O
20.-      Do you like dogs?                                                                     C            O
21.-      Do you regret having interrupted your studies?               C          O
22.-      What would happen if your daughter got married now?   C          O
23.-      Why do you think that old people are underprivileged?   C          O
24.-      Are Romanies mistreated?                                                         C            O
25.-      Where do you think I have exaggerated?                                    C            O
26.-      Do you think I am not right?                                                      C            O
27.-      Are you a foreigner?                                                                 C            O
28.-      Why do I have the impression that you are a foreigner?  C          O
29.-      You don't like modern music, do you?                           C          O
30.-      Are you tired?                                                                           C            O
31.-      Did you have a hard day indeed or is it just my impression?       C            O
32.-      Do I find a cinema down the street?                                           C            O
33.-      Could you tell me where the cinema is?                                     C            O
34.-      What bothered you most at your boss?                           C          O
35.-      You did not get along with your boss, did you?              C          O
36.-      You have woke up early, haven't you?                           C          O
37.-      Why can't you come at the scheduled time?                               C            O
38.-      Is your salary enough?                                                  C          O
39.-      What's your idea of a decent income?                            C          O
40.-      Do you have problems with your colleagues?                 C          O
Think how to change the closed questions into open questions, to which one could answer giving more details and facilitating the continuation of the conversation.

d. Interviews between two persons
Purpose: Interviewing other person, in order to get to know that person well enough to be able to introduce it to the others.

Each of us is the centre of its own world. As I am not able to entirely transpose myself in your world, you are not able to transpose yourself in my world either, and if we are going to communicate, we have to define a mutual world for us. Even in possession of this mutual world (or mutually accepted), my answers to you are dictated by my perception about myself. When I talk to you, I actually talk to an image I have created about you, which, most probable, is not the same with the one you have created about yourself. Then, how can I discover the real you? I ask questions. Yet, as questions are based on my own perceptions, they cannot offer me an accurate image about the way you see yourself. What kind of questions should I ask in order to get an accurate perception about you?
1.     On a separate sheet of paper, draw up a list with 10 questions you would like to be asked by somebody else.
2.     Choose a partner and exchange the lists of questions with that person.
3.     You have 30 minutes at your disposal, and during this period of time you have to interview each other. Write down the answers of your partner to the questions from his own list. Your partner has to do the same thing while asking you the questions from your list.
4.     Afterwards, you and your partner have to form a group of six persons with other two couples. Introduce your partner to the rest of the group, by using the information obtained during the interview. Each partner has the right to correct or modify the impressions made to his interviewer, during his presentation to the group.

[1] Johns, Gary, Comportament organizaţional. Înţelegerea şi conducerea oamenilor în procesul muncii, Editura Economică, [1998], p. 327.
[2] Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni (1463-1494), Italian humanist from the Florentine Platon Academy. His fundamental book, De hominis dignitate, imposes him as one of the most representative personality from the Renaissance.
[3] Voltaire, Francois-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), French thinker and writer. Famous representative of the Enlightenment. The author of the tragedies Zaira, Mahomet. Philosophical novels: Zadig, Micromegas, Candid. He elaborated the famous Philosophical Dictionary. Among others, he wrote History of Charles XII and The Century of Ludovic XIV.
[4] Epistola lui Iacov, în Biblia sau Sfânta Scriptură, trad. D. Cornilescu, p. 1203.
[5] Maria Cornelia Bârliba, Paradigmele comunicării, Bucureşti, Ed. Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, 1987, p.52.
[6] Robert Escarpit, De la sociologia literaturii la teoria comunicării, Bucureşti, Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, 1980, p. 128.
[7] Maria Cornelia Bârliba, Op. cit., p. 55.
[8] Melvin L. DeFleur, Sandra Ball-Rokeasch, op. cit., 187.
[9] S. Mehedinţi, Civilizaţie şi cultură, Bucureşti, Editura Trei, 1999, p.119.
[10] Constantin Rădulescu - Motru, Psihologia poporului român şi alte studii de psihologie socială, Bucureşti, Editura Paideia, 1998, p.12.
[11] Marthe Robert, Romanul începuturilor, începuturile romanului, Bucureşti, Editura Univers, 1983, p. 88.
[12] Ralph Linton, apud Jean Caune, Cultură şi comunicare, Bucureşti, Ed. Cartea Românească, 2000, p. 54.
[13] Jean Caune, Op. cit., pag. 54.
[14] Melvin L. DeFleur, Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Teorii ale comunicării de masă, Iaşi, Ed. Polirom, 1999, p. 46.
[15] Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain`s Speeches, apud Melvin L. DeFleur, Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Op. cit., p. 135.
[16] Milton Ellis, Louise Pond şi George W. Spohn, A College Book of American Literature, apud Melvin L. DeFleur, Sandra Ball - Rokeach, Op. cit., p. 135.
[17] Mihail Eminescu, Opere complecte, cu o prefaţă şi un studiu introductiv de A. C. Cuza, Iaşi, Librăria Românească, 1914, pag. 457.
[18] Melvin L. DeFleur, Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Op. cit., pag. 67.

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