Ming the Mechanic:
A Communication Model

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 A Communication Model2002-05-31 03:21
9 comments
pictureby Flemming Funch

I believe that one of the major obstacles humanity collectively needs to overcome and master is communication between people who are different, have different ideas, different priorities, different backgrounds, different cultures, etc. In other words, how can two people who are wearing different colored glasses still share a meaningful experience with each other. How can there be meaningful dialogue between fundamentally different world views.

Below is an article from one of my processing facilitator training manuals, which tries to break down the process of communication so that it might be understood better.



A Communication Model

There is always a sender and a receiver in communication. At least there is an intended receiver. In the diagram above A is the sender, B is the receiver.

A and B have different personal realities. They each have their own world formed by their experiences, their perceptions, their ideas, etc. They will perceive, experience, and interpret things differently. The same event will always be perceived a little different by each of two people.

For the consideration to communicate to appear at all there must be some kind of shared space. The participants must have some kind of concept of each other's location and of a possible channel of communication existing between them. They must agree sufficiently on these to agree that communication is taking place.

The sender will have some kind of meaning she wishes to convey to the receiver. It might not be conscious knowledge, it might be a sub-conscious wish for communication. What is desired to be communicated would be some kind of idea, perception, feeling, or datum. It will be a part of her reality that she wishes to send to somebody else.

Something will be transmitted across a distance in the shared space. We can regard it as an object, a particle, or as a wave, or flow. It might be sound vibrations, rays of light, words, pieces of paper, cannon balls, body language, telepathy, or whatever.

Between humans there will be several layers of the message being sent. There will often be a verbal portion, something that is being expressed in language, spoken or written. And there is also a non-verbal portion, covering everything else, most notably body language. Sometimes the verbal and non-verbal messages don't agree with each other, they are incongruent. If they do agree we say that they are congruent.

Based on what the receiver perceives, and based on her interpretation of the verbal and non-verbal input, she will form a concept in her reality of what the meaning of the message is. It will mean something to her. It might or might not be what was intended by the sender. In successful communication the perceived message will approximate the intended message to the sender's satisfaction. However, the sender will only know that if she receives a message back that is congruent with what she had in mind.

One can never take for granted that the receiver has the same reality as the sender. One can never take for granted that the receiver will interpret the message the same way as the sender intended it.

Communication is not an absolute finite thing. Particularly, communication with language is always vague and misleading to some extent.

If A says a word, like for example "trust", she has a certain meaning attached to it in her reality. She has had certain experiences with the subject matter, she has made certain conclusions about it, and she has certain perceptual filters concerning it. The meaning of the word is all the stuff it is associated with in her reality. However, because words also have nice, finite dictionary definitions it might appear as if the word is something very precise.

What travels across the communication channel is NOT all the associations that A made about the word, and NOT the intentions she had with using it. What crosses the distance is symbols.

When B hears the word or sentence she will interpret it based on her experiences, perceptions, and opinions. She might supplement the verbal information with non-verbal information such as body language. She might also hallucinate what it is supposed to mean. In one way or another she arrives at the meaning she assigns to it.

There is wide agreement, at least within a particular culture, on what common physical objects are. When you say "car" or "refrigerator" most people will have an understanding very close to yours. But if you say words for abstract qualities, like "trust", "love", "right", "wrong", and so forth, then there is wide variance on what people mean.

To have effective communication one needs to take all the factors into consideration. The different realities, the space the communication takes place in, verbal as well as non-verbal messages, the intended meaning versus the perceived meaning.


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9 comments

31 May 2002 @ 03:37 by swan : Important piece, Ming
It is very important to remember this model when communicating in cyberspace as the non-verbal cues are missing and they make up a very large piece in what we understand a person to be saying. We only have language to rely on. Misunderstandings can occur much easier, illusions can be created, people can be unnecessarily hurt. Swan  


31 May 2002 @ 05:41 by istvan : Examples
OK, we make werbal(written) statements and the nature of the mind and werbal communication indicates that we came to these statements by personal experience, or the influence of others experience we syncronised with. So we expect others to automaticallty understand our statements as we see/feel to be so. Our statements are missunderstood, because we do not know how that peson came to a certain conclusion, in short: i think it is important to give examples that will give an idea to others as how we arrived to understandings we hold on subjects of any kind.
I started this in my comments and statements as giving an exaple to what i am trying to communicate, just as a glimpse into that wast/limited something i find myself to be.
example: I am saying this, because i found the mind to be just a part of what i and others are.  



31 May 2002 @ 07:03 by cho : Written vs Spoken
I think the spoken word is very special for the fact of engaging so many channels at once, especially is something less formal than debate and more transactional than lecture. When we chat, we get all sorts of information from our reactions and responses in the moment (or could at least, if we valued the other as human rather than as a means to an end). I think writing takes much more courage since we only get feedback after everything's done and done, whereas in exchange we can check in with the other (eyebrow raises, small smiles, leaning towards or away) and customize the exchange in real time. I suspect a lot of opposition and obstruction comes from one party's apparent devaluation of the other. On the flip side, well it seems that with George W. as with Ronnie R., many who cooperate with the man point out how they disagree with the contents, but really like the man. So the question of intention arises very powerfully ... do I want to inform and empower the other? or enthrall?  


31 May 2002 @ 10:27 by magical_melody : Yes, time to enhance this!
I believe that emerging expressions of sacred art are going to open up new opportunities to allow for communications to bypass some of these spaces, and perhaps open more congruous connectivity. Your article is very important and my initial response was that the more congruous we become in relating with ourselves, the more that will show up being able to relate more effectively with others. Doing our personal work is essential to open up more harmonious relating with others. As within, so without. I feel that certainly, the cultural and environmental factors are the most important ones to look at and address, because even though we may become more conscious and congruous within, the ways we have learned to tie symbols and culture to our experiences, imprints us to view life within certain constructs and perspectives that are rich in diversity. I truly think art is going to assist us in bridging higher forms of communication in the coming days, and I am most excited to meet others who are interested in looking at how the tapestries of cultural experiences can be woven together through artistic expressions, via multimedia forms. I also trust that as we become more tuned to our souls and open in our multisensory awareness, that the doors to communications will open to more harmonious and more universal connections and expressions. In Harmony, Magical Melody  


31 May 2002 @ 13:31 by ming : Congruity
Indeed, I think that online communication makes it even more important to be congruous with oneself. In part because it is much easier to be misunderstood when there's only words on a screen. But at the same time I think it is also more likely that people will pick on the incongruities. Since there are only the words here, and we have some time to sit and read over them a few times, people will tend to look for, and find, the inconsistencies in what one is saying, and how it matches what one is doing. And we also try to pick up what is between the lines. Sometimes that is a total hallucination, but at other times it is that we sense that there really is more to it than what the person actually says. One way or another, the path towards more successful communication would be to be in alignment with ourself, and be honest about it, before we can begin to expect that others will just get what we mean.  


31 May 2002 @ 13:44 by scottj : I would like to suggest a slightly
different model here, one in which we do our communicating with reference to a wellspring of shared experience that goes back to the beginning of time.

For me the idea that we are separate beings doesn't really ring true and I wonder at times that there really only ever is one person and all of us are that person. The onederous illusion is the one thing we are certain of, namely our identity, which is the only thing that really doesn't exist at all.

There is a story of a person looking out of their window on the most beautiful landscape imaginable. One day this person decides to paint the landscape on the window to preserve it for all time. Painstakingly over many days the person colours in every detail. And then when the last brush stroke is applied the room goes completely dark. No light can enter the room and the person is in total darkness unable to either see the landscape or their painting of it on the window.

I believe this is what we have been doing as a species over several thousands of years. Our knowledge is the painting on the window our understanding is the landscape outside. When knowledge replaces understanding the lights go out.

Now we are reaching a point where reality is an only half remembered vision from our tribal ancestory. Little wonder we have problems communicating! Somehow we have to dare to trust more than we normally do and see ourselves in one another. This is the only way we will get our I's back.  



31 May 2002 @ 14:28 by magical_melody : Yep Scott!
Your metaphor is similar to one I have used re: our beliefs, emotional memories and attitudes, as blocks built before us, stacked until we can no longer see out in front of us the immediate beauty before us in each moment. Similar metaphor. When we come as the Divine Child or Fool and are ready to step into the moment as our authentic self, willing to adventure into seeing and experiencing life anew, we open to seeing with new evolutionary eyes and senses that enhance our capacity to perceive and receive more of the abundance always present. As we become instruments for universal communications, we are able to receive and transmit moment to moment, and can be utilized as powerful channels for Source. I do see us as a multicolored spectrum of that Universal Self. I think that each of us, if we can take turns looking through the eyes and experience of each of us here with value and adventure, we will experience it all with richness and abundance. I feel that we are now stepping into this process more with these sharings about perspectives and building the house called NCN. Our newslogs provide the feeling tones for these energies to grow as our individual sanctuaries. These dialogues provide the livingroom sharings that bring about community building and those collaborative actions that can bring about the realizations of our individual and yet common visions. Blessings, MM  


31 May 2002 @ 21:16 by simpleman : FOR WHAT ITS WORTH
Keep it SIMPLE!  


1 Jun 2002 @ 00:12 by shawa : For Simpleman -
LOL - Hey, Gregg - we need you. :-)  


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