Processes in Reasoning, Communication Competence, and Ethics in Communication
In this unit, so far, we have established that certain generic knowledge and skills are essential to one’s progress in business organisations. Globalisation, as well as the tendency within organisations to work in teams, means that we require well developed interpersonal communication skills just to do our everyday tasks at work. The easy availability of information means that if we do not have highly developed information and reasoning skills, we are unlikely to be able to evaluate information for its relev...
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Processes in Reasoning, Communication Competence, and Ethics in Communication
In this unit, so far, we have established that certain generic knowledge and skills are essential to one’s progress in business organisations. Globalisation, as well as the tendency within organisations to work in teams, means that we require well developed interpersonal communication skills just to do our everyday tasks at work. The easy availability of information means that if we do not have highly developed information and reasoning skills, we are unlikely to be able to evaluate information for its relevance and its credibility. In the current section, you will continue to cover skills that form the basis for improving your ability to reason and to communicate in a responsible manner. You will learn about the fundamental process in reasoning, which is linking, as well as a key technique for analysing the validity of arguments. You will also look at models of communication. A model of communication is a representation of what actually happens when people communicate. Finally, you will learn what characteristics are needed for communication competence, and you will be introduced to ethics in communication. Upon completion of this section, you will be able to: • Improve the logic of your reasoning by • Using the analytical structure format to represent your reasoning; • Translating your reasoning from the analytical structure format to the narrative expression of reasoning; • Deconstruct and represent the reasoning of others in the format of an analytical structure; • Explain the concept of communication competence and its characteristics; • Describe the concepts of emotional intelligence and emotional competence and explain their relationship with communication competence; • Define and understand the various approaches to ethics in communication; and • Describe various guidelines for achieving ethical interpersonal communication and explain how they contribute to effective and responsible communication. 3.2 Key processes in reasoning As you know, the ability to think critically requires us to be explicitly aware of the processes involved in reasoning. In the reasoning segment of the last section, you covered certain areas that are fundamental to the processes involved in reasoning: • claims, which are the basis of reasoning; and • the words and statements that are used to make claims. In the reasoning segment of the current section, you will further develop your ability to reason by expanding your knowledge of how to reason. In particular, you will cover the process of how claims link to each other, and the words we use in everyday language to represent these links in our reasoning. You will also learn how to analytically examine the structure of arguments (or reasoning) that others present to you. Activity and review questions Read Chapter 3 of Allen (2012). Please do the exercises throughout this chapter, and the review exercise at the end of the chapters. 3.3 Communication competence As you now know, supportive and defensive communication behaviours, as well as confirming and disconfirming communication behaviours, are extremely important influences on the communication climate between individuals, and within a team, and on cooperation. For this reason, being aware of, and being able to implement, supportive communication behaviours is an important and responsible component of being a competent communicator. But what exactly is communication competence? Communication texts vary to some extent in their accounts of what it takes to be an effective interpersonal communicator. For instance, Wood (2010) defines interpersonal communication competence as a proficiency in communication that is interpersonally effective and appropriate. She goes on to state that it includes the abilities to develop a range of communication skills, to adapt one’s communication appropriately, to engage in a dual perspective (being able to see things from the other communicator’s point of view i.e., cognitive empathy), to monitor one’s own communication behaviours, and to commit to effective and ethical interpersonal communication. For O'Rourke and Barnett (2008), a competent communicator is one who has a wide range of behaviours, the ability to choose the most appropriate behaviour, skill at performing these behaviours, cognitive complexity (the ability to think on your feet, and multi-task), the ability to self-monitor (being able to stand outside yourself and see yourself as others do, and to change your behaviour as a result; this also involves self-control), and commitment (believing that communication is important and being willing to practise and change). The elements that seem to be common to many of the accounts of interpersonal communication competence are that we need to: 1. Increase our knowledge of the various communication techniques that exist; 2. Be able to effectively implement these techniques; and 3. Be able to make effective choices as to which ones are most appropriate in which circumstances. Spitzberg (2006), a well-known researcher in the field of interpersonal communication competence, describes it as comprising motivation, knowledge, and skill. He defines skills as the repeatable, goal-oriented behavioural tactics and routines that people employ in the service of their motivation and knowledge, and explains that interpersonal communication skills can be clustered into four categories: • attentiveness (i.e., displaying concern for, interest in, and attention to the other person), • composure (i.e., displaying assertiveness, confidence, being in control), • coordination (i.e., displaying deft management of timing, initiation and closure of conversations, topic management, etc.), and • expressiveness (i.e., displaying vividness and animation in verbal and nonverbal expression). Importantly, Spitzberg (2006) also claims that interpersonal communication competence is the application of motivation, knowledge, and skill in a particular context. This focus on context highlights the importance of choosing and implementing behaviours according to the situation at hand. As we will see when we get to the topic of perception and intercultural communication, our ability to choose behaviours that are suitable for the circumstances is paramount not only to effective communication, but also to responsible communication. The article that you are about to read highlights the extent to which views of communication competence are culturally specific.
Emotional intelligence There is a substantial overlap between the interpersonal communication competencies we are addressing in this unit and those that fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence (EI). For this reason, we’ll talk briefly now about EI. Eunson (2012, p. 285) distinguishes between EI and a related concept, known as emotional competence (EC). EI is a person’s basic underlying capability to recognise and use emotion to better communicate with others. EC, on the other hand, describes the personal and social skills that lead to superior performance in the world of work (Goleman 1998; Gowing 2001, cited in Eunson 2012). EC comprises two sets of competencies, personal competence (how we manage ourselves), and social competence (how we manage relationships with others). These two competencies comprise the following sub-categories: Personal competence Self-awareness — knowing one’s internal states, impulses, and resources Self-regulation — managing one’s internal states, impulses, and resources Motivation — emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate one’s achievement of goals. Social competence Empathy — one’s awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns Social skills — one’s adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others. An important difference between the fields of interpersonal communication and EI/EC is that the former has a substantial history of scientific evidence. Research into interpersonal communication, both in personal and work relationships, goes back to the 1960s (Knapp & Daly 2002). On the other hand, the research evidence on EI/EC is much less well established with the concept of EI first being presented in (1990) by Salovey and Mayer, and on EC in 1998
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