Purposive Communication.docx

For example people in diverse circumstances are often

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for example, people in diverse circumstances are often relatively free to choose how attentively they will listen to the Other. How will they respond to the Other's questions, concerns, insights, charges, and so on? Will they seek
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to manipulate the Other to their personal advantage? Seek to gain the “upper hand”? Will they listen defensively? Or will they seek to understand the Other? To connect with the Other? To foster the mutual pursuit of truth, insight, wisdom, informed and just decision making with the Other? In encounters with strangers, the decision of whether to recoil or to express hostility, on the one hand, or to smile or otherwise express a sense of human connection, on the other, reflects elements of choice and hence of responsibility to the Other as well. Numerous factors—from cultural norms, customs, and traditions to individual preferences, abilities, genetic makeup, neurophysiology, and many other variables within and outside the individual's control—influence how each person responds to the circumstances he or she confronts. Central to the deliberative process across contexts, however, is the overall state of one's heart and mind. In interpersonal communication settings, for example, each individual's approach is shaped by goals, values, emotions, and perceptions. What does each party hope to achieve? How does each perceive the Other? What are their perceptions of stakeholders' interests? What about their own values, beliefs, and vested interests? How thoroughly has each considered the likely consequences of the interaction to the self, to others, and to the relationship? Responses to these questions all involve elements of choice and reflect values, influenced significantly by each participant's overall state of heart and mind. Structural factors are relevant as well. People often find themselves in circumstances defined, at least in part, by power structures beyond their control. Institutional structures are especially relevant. Consider, for example, those situated at the “bottom” of a clearly defined corporate hierarchy. Even in such seemingly constrained circumstances, the state of one's heart and mind is instrumental to the quality, efficacy, and ethics of one's interactions. Individuals in such positions often have a much broader range of communicative options than appears evident on the surface. Often, for example, even those with limited institutionally sanctioned power have opportunities to facilitate transparency, to engender acts of loving-kindness, and to foster elements of just and caring communion. How these individuals choose to respond to their circumstances often profoundly affects the quality of the organizational environment. This sense of quality relates directly to a second key feature of moral agency across communication contexts. While the communicator's goals (the intentions or ends of communication) are important, so too are the means communicators elect to use. Consider, for example, a situation in which one must decide how to respond when 2 a friend asks questions regarding her performance at a concert the previous evening.
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  • Fall '16
  • Jeff Smith

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