My initial, formal interest in communication skills was stimulated by my speech professor at Manatee Junior College in Bradenton, Florida. The Reverend Jim Marsh had a profound impact on my life, recruiting me into advanced communication classes, while I had just wanted to get the dreaded public speaking out of the way. He and his best friend, the Reverend Herb Frith were popular instructors who showed me how to facilitate the learning of others. I graduated MJC, magna cum laude, with a GPA of 3.77.
I went on to major, at the University of Southern Colorado, in behavior science. Why? Because all human behavior is communicative in nature. While getting a good fundamental understanding of the intricacies of human behavior (THE holistic approach to understanding the human condition), I had the great fortune to work with the ‘mentally ill’ at Spanish Peaks Mental Health Center’s day treatment program. It is here that I encountered the vast array of human behaviors we identify as somehow deviant. I saw those tormented souls who required medications to function and those who required close supervision just to stay safe. These areas of the ‘profession’ did not interest me. I soon found that any form of ‘talk therapy’ was preferable for those who could respond to it. And it was the area at which I was the best. I graduated from USC (With Special Distinction), with a bachelors degree in behavioral science (GPA of 3.933).
I continued my education at the University of Northern Colorado where I majored in the relatively new social science of human communication, a former subset of sociology. My emphasis areas were interpersonal dynamics and non-verbal communication. I graduated with a master’s degree in (human) communication with a GPA of 3.80. I have to stress the ‘human’ because I found that if I told folks I had a degree in communication, they would, invariably, put an ‘s’ on the end and think I majored in spinning records. A degree in communicationS, deals with the field of mass media, a subset of human communication.
In this workshop, we will explore how PTSD issues specifically effect the person’s communication skills. During the semi-structured group, communication within the family, in society in general, and around the workplace will be discussed. Conflict resolution is an important topic for all, but, especially folks with PTSD.
In my professional life, I have worked with a wide variety of client populations: Psychotics, alcoholics over 40 and adolescent drug ‘addicts,’ ‘emotionally impaired youths,’ and clients with severe physical and mental disabilities. These life experiences prove useful when working with my favorite population, combat veterans.
The last 8 years of my working life, I was an adjunct professor of public speaking at Pueblo Community College. It was during that time that I developed my Principles of Human Communication which have formed the core of my communication philosophy. Besides teaching on the campuses, I taught ‘behind the walls.’ The college found work for me teaching additional classes in philosophy and English composition. While I was ‘teaching’ at PCC, I was contracted by Colorado’s DOC, on a few occasions to conduct seminars for correctional officer where my focus was recognizing the signs of trouble before it erupted and defusing rather than escalating potentially dangerous situation.
Mike’s Fundamental Principles and Best Practices of Human Communication
Problem: Early communicologist determined that at least 99% of ALL human communication fails at some level. This impacts EVERY facet of human endeavor. From the worker at McDonald’s getting your order wrong, to the VA amputating the diabetic patient’s wrong leg, to a 747 landing on the wrong runway, to your last divorce, to extreme parenting problems. Better communication skills will not solve problems but are the best tools for the solving of problems.
Principle: a fundamental truth, i.e., the essence of reality1 that serves as the foundation for a system of behavior or for a chain of reasoning. A principle is what it is and it is up to us to discover it.
Communication2: an activity of information exchange normally between two or more participants in order to convey and/or receive the intended meanings through a shared system of signs and symbols. Intrapersonal communication: a communicator's internal use of language or thought. It can be useful to envision intrapersonal communication occurring in the mind of the individual in a model which contains a sender, receiver, and feedback loop as with interpersonal communication.
Human communication: except is the narrowest of circumstances, ‘human communication’ is synonymous with ‘communication.’
Meta-communication: Communication about communication. This is meta-communication.
1. Human communication is the transfer of information through space and/or time and defines relationship.
B. Human communication defines relationships.
i. General Systems Theory
2. Human communication is ubiquitous.
3. Human communication is complex.
A. It has been estimated that as much as 99% of all human communication fails at some level.
1. Cost of failure can be as trivial as getting catchup one did not want on a hamburger to the deaths of 583 people in a dual 747 crash in the Canary Islands; The Bay of Pigs fiasco.
B. In excess of 90% of all human communication is non-verbal.
4. All human behavior is communicative in nature.
A. One cannot not communicate.
B. Human communication can be either intentional or unintentional.
C. Human communication can be either verbal or nonverbal.
5. Human communication is both irreversible and unrepeatable.
6. All human communication is an interpretive process.
A. The perceptual grid, the abstract ‘thing” that accounts for our absolute individual uniqueness. Unique is an absolute, but in this case, requires the extra emphasis.
B. The complete human communication process involves the complex interaction of nine (9) key elements:
1. The speaker. (The speaker/listener relationship can be dynamic.)
2. The intent (What the speaker wants to communicate.)
3. The message
a. Denotative v. connotative
b. Abstract v. concrete
c. General v. specific
4. The channel.
5. The listener(s)
8. The situation (communication environment).
9. The perceived meaning (the interpreted message).
1 In the words of Robert Ringer in Looking Out for Number One, “While it is true that everyone perceives reality differently, reality could care less about our perceptions. Reality does not change to adapt to our viewpoints; reality is what is. Reality is fact. Reality is truth.”
2Not to be confused with “Communications.” The plural of communication is more properly used to refer to media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s mass media (newspapers, radio, TV, and now the Internet).
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