IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication

  1. Deceptionoccurs when people deliberately use uninformative, untruthful, irrelevant or vague language to mislead others; concealment(just withholding information) is practiced even wider.

    Deception is common in online communication, although it is very harmful.

    However, ambiguous and indirect language can be a cultural feature.

DISCUSSION STARTER 7:How do you define deception? What relationship consequences have you experienced because of it? If a friend, family member, or romantic partner deceives you out of a genuine concern for your feelings or to protect your mutual relationship, is the deception unethical? Why or why not?

  1. Misunderstandingis often the result of not listening carefully due IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication to mismatching listening styles. Misunderstanding often occurs online because of the lack of nonverbal cues. Misunderstandings also happen intentionally: (a) people specifically look for excuses to twist your words; (b) look for and find things to support your negative assumptions; (c) repeatedly misbehave; in response partners repeatedly misunderstand.

    Michael has more barriers to add (Michael’s Sound Bite 6-6):

DISCUSSION STARTER 8:Recall an online encounter in which you thought you understood someone’s

e-mail, text message, or post, then later found out you were wrong. How did you discover that your impression was mistaken? What could you have done differently IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication to avoid the misunderstanding?

  1. Multiple meanings:words can have different meanings for different people, when this happens we refer to it as “variable designation.”

  2. Grandiloquence:we use words of “high style” that we don’t necessarily understand completely or that make it sound absolutely out of the context;

  3. Malopropism:this barrier happens when we mistakingly use a wrong word instead of the word that sounds alike. (“like”, “love”, “want” and “fancy”; Slovenia and Slovakia, etc.)

  4. Generalization:this barrier takes place when we generalize about the whole based on a particular episode or part of an experience. People react emotionally to IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication words like “always”, “overall,” “never,” etc.

  5. Static evaluation:Static evaluation takes place when we view something as unchanging: call your grown-up son “kid,” fear talking to your former high-school teacher who had been very strict, etc.

  6. Polarization:Using the either-or language.

  7. Presentiment:Using language to attach labels.

V. Conversation Analysis Short Course

(Michael’s Sound Bite 6-7):

  1. People communicate in “adjacency pairs,”utterances that consist of two parts: first pair part (FPP),and second pair part (SPP). (Sacks, Schegloff)

  2. Several important rules apply:

- When you initiate a conversation with an FPP, be ready to give up IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication your turn in a few pairs so that the other person has a say in where the conversation is going;

- Every FPP must have an SPP: always comment on what the previous speaker has said;

- Try to do it as soon as possible in the conversation; in your response follow the maxims;

- Resist the temptation of saying things foryour interlocutor;

- Stay relevant to the topic; do not bring up other topics that are irrelevant to the conversation.


I. Opening Story: Starting the Discussion

A. Michael’s Instructions:While not obligatory for reading, the opening story in each chapter sets the mood for IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication the rest of the reading. Stephen chooses stories that relate to several concepts in the chapter and talks about these concepts in general terms.

B. Read the opening storyand identify three concepts from the chapter that characterize the communication process in the situation.

C. Then:(a) think of similar examples in your life, (b) remember the actions that the hero of the story, you, and other people around you took when they faced the situation; (c) think of the ways these actions influenced everyone involved; (d) suggest the ways which your naïve knowledge of communication offered you IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication as remedies for whatever did not work in communication in that particular instance; (e) discuss how your scientific knowledgeof communication changes your perception, and list three things that you would do now if you faced a similar situation in the future

D. An essay on the opening story can be used as an extra credit opportunity.If you would like to get more points, write a six-paragraph essay answering the questions above in good paragraphs (1 opening sentence, 2-3 main idea sentences, 1 summary and transition sentence). Make note that although this assignment is long and fairly difficult, you will be given only IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication 10 points for it. The reason for it is that the extra credit points must be extra hard to get.


“The game is pretty near up,” George Washington wrote his cousin in 1776. His army had suffered several devastating defeats, and the British had taken New York City. With only 3,000 of his original 20,000 troops remaining, Washington retreated to the Delaware River. There, his troops hunkered down in the snow, sick and fatigued. Ten miles upstream, on the opposing shore, lay the city of Trenton—and a British garrison filled with German “Hessian” mercenaries.

The morning of Christmas Eve, Congressman IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication Benjamin Rush paid Washington a visit, hoping to lift his spirits. During their conversation, Washington furiously scribbled on scraps of paper. Seeing one fall to the floor—and thinking perhaps they were notes to loved ones—Rush picked it up. He was surprised to see only three words: Victory or Death. It was Washington’s password to his officers for an assault on Trenton.

Washington’s plan was audacious and unprecedented: he would launch a surprise attack on Christmas Day. The risks were enormous. With so few men left, if the ploy failed, the war would IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication be lost, and with it, the dream of a free and independent “United States.” The odds of success were minimal. Washington’s troops would have to navigate the turbulent, ice-packed river with horses, equipment, and weapons, at night; then hike 10 miles through the snow to attack a heavily fortified encampment filled with highly trained troops.

But Washington had a secret motivational weapon. Five days earlier, intellectual and revolutionary

Thomas Paine had penned “The American Crisis,” an essay that opened with the following words:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us: the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph!

Sensing his soldiers’ low morale, and realizing the power of the spoken word to inspire, Washington ordered officers along the riverbank to read Paine’s passage out loud to their troops before they embarked. It worked. Uplifted by the impassioned words, the troops braved the crossing without incurring any losses, despite the IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication giant chunks of ice that surged down the river and rammed their boats.

By 4 a.m. the crossing was complete, and the troops began their cold, treacherous journey to Trenton. It took four hours to march the 10 miles. But when they arrived, they immediately attacked—and caught the sleeping Hessians and their British officers unawares. As they stormed the town, Washington’s sleet- and mud covered troops shouted, “These are the times that try men’s souls!”

The battle ended quickly. The Americans suffered only four casualties, whereas 100 Hessians were killed or wounded, over 900 were taken prisoner IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication, and the garrison and all of its weapons and supplies were confiscated. More importantly, a stunning psychological blow had been landed against the British: the “upstart colonists” could fight—and win—after all. In the months that followed, Washington prevailed in a series of similar clashes, ultimately winning the war itself and ensuring the survival of our fledgling nation.

On Christmas Day 1776, a beleaguered general put his faith in the power of verbal communication to motivate forlorn troops to cross an impassable river and attack an impregnable fortress. Centuries later, we live, learn, and love in a country that exists because of IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication those words.

II. Terms

In your essays for this course it is very important to use the terminology of communication science. Therefore, take time to learn the terms and their meanings in each chapter. In the face-to-face version of this course, various interactive techniques will be used to test your knowledge of the major terms. In the online version of the class you will review the terms independently. Make sure you use the terms referred to below in your essays.

Adjacency pairs Assertive Commissive Concealment Connotative meaning Constitutive rules Content, Context, Intent of speech acts Cooperative language IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication Cooperative Principle Deception Declarative Denotative meaning Directive Expressive First pair part Generalization Grandiloquence High-context cultures I-language Illocutionary act Locutionary act Low-context cultures Malopropism Maxim of manner Maxim of morality Maxim of politeness Maxim of quality Maxim of quantity Maxim of relevance Misunderstanding Molten Semantic Triangle Multiple meanings Perlocutionary act Polarization Presentiment Referent Regulative Rules Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Second pair part Semantic Triangle Speech acts Static Evaluation Symbol Thought We-language

III. Names

It is very important to remember the names of scholars who contributed to communication theory. Your essays will sound more professional if you make reference IV. Barriers to Cooperative Verbal Communication to the people mentioned in this brochure. In the face-to-face version of this course, and in the audio lectures that accompany the online version of this course the names of these scholars will be routinely used to refer to various concepts. Study the names of communication scholars and try to remember their contribution to the science.

Chen, Guoming De Saussure, Ferdinand Grice, Paul Hall, Edward T. Ogden, Charles Kay Richards, Ivar Armstrong Sacks, Jeffrey Sapir, Edward Schegloff, Emmanuel Searle, John Starosta, William Tannen, Deborah Verderber, Kathleen Whorf, Benjamin Lee

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