Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Barriers to effective communication


1. How well do we communicate?
We all believe we communicate well. We all believe we know the art of communicating. We are confident we have no difficulty (in) communicating. However, if we paused for a moment and thought about an instance or two, we might just begin to wonder.

          1                                            2
Raghu : Hi, Sundar!
Somu : …
Raghu  : Go to hell!
Rani : How is your mother today?
Devi : Much better.
Rani : I want to visit her. I’ll join you
           this evening.
Devi : She’ll be happy. But my grandpa is
           arriving. I have to get supper ready.
Rani: Okay. When are visitors allowed?


                         3
Joseph: Are you too busy, John?
John   : I’m completing  Experiment 3 in the
            Chemistry Lab Record.
Joseph: Oh.
John   : You need help? [Joseph nods] Okay.
             Tell me.
Joseph: Thanksda*. I don’t…

* ‘da’ is a suffix in Thamizh used between friends.    
                            
4.

Raju : [is answering an exercise on
            tenses, has his pen between his
            teeth, looking hard at the
            exercise sheet (as if that would
            somehow locate the answer for
            him!)]
Raghu: Move over. Let me help you.
Raju  : [moves away without a word]
Raghu: [angrily] There’s always a next
             time, my friend!


                         5
Sales Manager    : Sir, I need your
                              permission to attend my
                              cousin’s 
                              Shashtiaptapurthi.
General Manager: Permission? Don’t you
                              have any casual leave
                              left?
Sales Manager    : No, sir.
General Manager: You’re a senior
                              manager. You shouldn’t
                              have mismanaged your
                              leave account. How
                              could you have planned
                              it so badly?
Sales Manager    :???


                       6
Floor
Supervisor: Babu, Can’t you ever
(accusingly)   do a thing right?
Babu         : Sir, I was only mending
( taken unawares) …………
F.M.          : You mean you were
(glaring)         fiddling.
Babu          : Sir, …..
(clearly upset)
F. M.          : Don’t argue with me.
(cutting him off)
Babu          : No, sir. Let me…..
(firmly)
F.M.           : How dare you talk
(threatening)    back to me?
Babu           : Yes, sir. I mean, no
(bewildered)     sir. (!)     


A few more instances of communication. Read on.

 7.

I had once submitted an article for consideration for publication in a magazine to be brought out by the Ministry of Education in an African country for which I was working on a contract. The article depicted the feelings of a frustrated teacher and how he viewed his students, his colleagues and his principal.
A top ministry official was very angry and threatened to cancel my contract. His accusations implied that I was referring to the local students and the principal and that my article was an affront to his nation and race.
I was perplexed because I thought that my article would be seen as no more than a literary piece based on imagination. I was naïve enough to expect objective assessment of my article because the official was highly educated. Instead, the officer perceived me not as a writer but as a foreigner who in his perception had no right to comment or say the things that I’d said in the article.


8.

A young fresh teacher entered his class for the first time. While lecturing, he observed two women students chatting and smiling while looking at him on and off, and he concluded that they were not only disrespectful but mocking at him and that they were not behaving as women students should. When he warned them and put them in their places, one woman student got up to say that she and her friend had not done anything to deserve the warning; the teacher became enraged at this audacity and punished them in as many ways as he could think of. 


Communication in dialogues 2 and 3 goes on smoothly whereas in 1, 4, 5 and 6 you notice
barriers to communication, don’t you? The two incidents in 7 and 8 are two clear instances where barriers to communication are working effectively!

 Or think of some other ordinary events. Like, for instance, ordering a coffee. I might order a coffee, drink it, pay for it and leave the hotel. Or the server might come late to receive the order or bring the coffee late. Based on my perceptions and attitudes, I might draw inferences that are not there in the server’s behaviour, and what might follow could be unpleasant for the server and me as well. Let’s say somebody knocks on the door, I take a little time to reach the door, in the meantime, the knock gets longer and louder. I might not make much of the longer and the louder knock, open the door, speak to the person. Or influenced by my perceptions of how a person knocking at a door should behave, I might misinterpret the event and there could be trouble! And the guest may have his ideas of me for not answering the door immediately!

2. Barriers to communication

What are these barriers?
These barriers can be classified as ‘intrapersonal’, ‘interpersonal’ and ‘organizational’.
Intrapersonal refers to barriers coming from within an individual. Interpersonal refers to barriers arising from actions or no actions between individuals. Organizational combines intrapersonal and interpersonal barriers in the place of work.

What are barriers after all?

Obstacles or obstructions that prevent genuine communication.

3. kinds
Barriers are of two kinds: 1. internal [occurring within an individual and between individuals]  2. external [environment outside the individuals]

1. Internal Barriers
Communicating or not communicating depends on assumptions and expectations. In the eight samples presented in the previous pages are examples of assumptions and expectations.

In sample 1, Raghu considers Somu his friend [assumption], so greets him and expects response from Somu  but Somu doesn’t respond [probably he assumes, for whatever reason, Raghu is not his friend]. Raghu’s expectation is not fulfilled, he gets upset and says something unpleasant. The barriers are assumptions and nonfulfillment of expectations.

In sample 4, Raghu tries to help Raju but Raju doesn’t accept it. The barriers here are Raghu’s assumption that Raju would want help and Raju is perhaps too proud to accept help from anyone, even from Raghu who may be his friend.

In sample 5, the barrier is the authoritative attitude and the tone of the GM. He could’ve refused permission without being bossy. The sales manager assumes that exhausting casual leave and asking for a day’s permission is no crime. But the GM thinks so because he believes that no subordinate should exhaust casual leave early.

In sample 6, the barriers are [1] the floor supervisor’s assumption that a worker should observe silence, respond only by accepting his boss’s reprimand, and that he is haughty if he tries to respond [2] Babu’s assumption that he is entitled to explaining his position and his explanation is not arguing with his boss on equal terms. 

In sample 7, the barriers are the perceptions and the resultant assumptions and expectations. Because the article portrayed a negative picture, the ministry official saw the article through his perception of who a foreigner should be and interpreted the article as an offrent. Because I expected the ‘educated’ ministry official to look at the article as no more than an imaginary piece. Both of us failed to acknowledge that there could be difference between intended and perceived meanings irrespective of whether or not we were ‘educated’.

In sample 8, the teacher’s perceptions of how a woman student should behave in a classroom and the student’s perception of how a teacher should perceive her behaviour stand as barriers. The teacher felt he was superior and his superiority meant that no student should question his interpretation. The women students should not have thought it their right to chat and smile while looking at the teacher and expect the teacher to accept their behaviour.  

Perception is a view, an image, idea or understanding of people, places, things. It leads to assumptions. These assumptions lead to expectations. Now the questions is: how is perception formed?

  
                                       perceptions of
                                                   |
                                                   |
         ____________________________________________
         |                                       |                       |                       |
   self image                         image of            health         relationship
         |                                     others                                 between speaker
         |                                        |                                       and listener
         _____________________
             Formed and expressed through
                                       |
         _________________________________________
         |               |                |             |              |                    |
  language     body          stereo    culture    silence       physical 
                     language     types                                    characteristics


This box contains all the barriers arising from ‘intrapersonal’ and ‘interpersonal’ behaviour like ‘wrong assumptions’, ‘varied perceptions’, ‘various backgrounds’, ‘wrong inferences’, ‘prejudices’, ‘complexes –superior/inferior’, ‘lack in language use’, ‘mismatch between verbal and nonverbal communication’, ‘emotions, ‘being selective in focusing only on specific portions of message’, ‘cultural variations’ .

Self image
This refers to
  what you are, who you are as you grow out of your experience
    [your abilities, attitudes, values, emotions, feelings, needs, memory, thinking etc.]

In other words, you think of yourself as a superior, modest or inferior person. Non-English medium students, for instance, may behave confidently even if they are unable to use English as a medium.

Image of others
This refers to
the pictures you have of other people as superior, modest or inferior persons.

You may think well or ill of their language abilities, of their body language; you may or may not like their physical appearance [height, weight, colour, hair etc.], dress, perceptions, attitudes.  ‘he doesn’t like me’, ‘she looks pretty’, ‘he looks aggressive’, ‘she is so selfish’, ‘he thinks he’s an expert on women’, ‘she thinks she can teach me a thing or two’, ‘oh god, what colours does she choose’ are how we think about others.

Health
This refers to
physical condition [ill or well], physical ease [comfortable or not], mental disposition [mood, motivation, willingness, confidence, curiosity, concern, fear, doubt and so on].

Relationship between you and others
This refers to
the closeness or distance you’ve developed or you’ll develop with people around you.

All these factors impinge on the communicating act every time, every moment favourably or unfavourably. They may become barriers to or support interaction.

2. External Barriers

They are: 1. location       2. noise         3. audience       4. authority

Location: This refers to the climate and the geography of the place of communication.
                ‘Climate’ refers to atmosphere available for communication. If music is
                blaring on one side, if heavy traffic flows on either side of the building, if a           
                politician’s voice amplified, the climate cannot be thought of as congenial to
                communication.

Noise     : It is anything that makes it hard for a communication act to complete, anything
                that interrupts and makes sending or receiving messages difficult. It can be external
                like a noisy restaurant, construction noise outside, music blaring and
                deafening, traffic snarls and the resultant noise, children playing nearby. Or it can
                be internal such as poor use of language [vocabulary and structure],
                pronunciation, too low or high a volume, delivery speed, distracting
                mannerisms, body language seen as unpleasant.

Audience : This refers to people in the communication scene. They can influence a
                   communication. Presence or absence of one individual or certain individuals,
                   arrival or departure of a person or a group of persons in a communicating
                   situation may change the complexion of the communication. Say, your were
                   about to confide in your friend (leaning close) and somebody walked in,
                   you’d shut up (drawing away). Or you could be prepared to come out with
                   your story once a person was out of earshot. You may wait to pass on
                   information until someone you wanted to be present arrived. 

Authority : This is part of organizational barriers. Exercise of excessive authority
                   prevents open and frank and encourages pretence and routine. Again, a
                   management may have so many channels that communication can get
                   distorted. Communication in a team can become difficult if it consists of
                   people believing in different value systems. And there may be too many
                   messages to receive and hence there may be difficulty in comprehension.

Conclusion
When two or more than two people converse, more often than not, their efforts can fail for one reason or the other; the culprit could be how the speaker, the listener or both how they see themselves and others and other things in a communicating environment.

The intention of this article is to not frighten readers, not to picture communicating as an extremely arduous activity but to point out aspects that can hamper or hinder an attempt at communicating , and so to bear in mind these and proceed in such a manner as to help the other person feel comfortable and to conduct communicating as smooth as possible.

_________________________________________________________________________________ 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

British English Vs American English

Note: This post is a mere collection and doesn’t treat the differences exhaustively.
          The differences listed here are generalisations. It should certainly not be inferred
          that all AmE or BrE speakers will use the varying language features ascribed to them
          here.

1. Differences
Let’s take a look at a few of the differences between the two varieties.

1.1  Pronunciation
1. the consonant ‘r’
    (a) (i) In British English (RP), this is pronounced when it comes before a vowel sound:
                round /raʊnd/     regard /riga:d/
         (ii) In British English, it’s pronounced when it’s followed by another word beginning
                with a vowel sound:
                her arm /hɜːr a:m/      far away /fa:r  əˈweɪ/

(b) In American English (GA), this is always pronounced with the tongue rising upward
      and curling inward; it’s said that Americans roll their r’s.

word           BrE               AmE                   word            BrE              AmE
abort           /əˈbɔːt/           /əˈbɔːrt/               beard          /bɪəd/            /bɪrd/
arm            /ɑːm/              /ɑːrm/                  beer            /bɪə/              /bɪr/
divorce     /dɪˈvɔːs/          /dɪˈvɔːrs/              here            /hɪə/              /hɪə/             

word          BrE              AmE                    word           BrE              AmE 
poor          /pʊə/             /pʊr/                     appear       /əˈpɪə/           /əˈpɪr/    
sure          /ʃʊə/              /ʃʊr/                      affair         /əˈfeə/           /əˈfer/
tour          /tʊə/              /tʊə/                      bear          /beə/              /ber/
   
2. the letter ‘a’
(a) this is pronounced as /ɑː/ in BrE and /æ/ in AmE:       
     word          BrE               AmE
     ask             /ɑːsk/             /æsk/
     bath           /bɑːθ/            /bæθ/

    a few more words in this group are:
    basket, branch, castle, class, draft, flask, glass, passport, pass, path, staff

    But  ‘wasn’t’ is pronounced as /wʌznt/

3. The letter ‘o’
   (a) This is pronounced as /ɒ/in British English and /ɑː/ in American English
         cod /kɒd/     cop /kɒp/      possible /ˈpɒsəbl/  /ˈpɑːsəbl/
   
         a few more words in this group are:
         abscond, abolish, accommodate, body, bother, not, coffee, economy, gossip, object  

    (b) This is pronounced also as / ɔː / in American English
          chocolate /tʃɔːklət/    dog  /dɔːg/

4. The letters ‘au’
    These are pronounced as /ɒ/ in British English and /ɑː/ in American English
   because /bɪˈkɒz/   /bˈkɑːz/   caught  /kɒt/   /kɑːt/     caution /kɒʃn/     /kɑːʃn/

    A few more words
    law, laundry, launch, caustic, cauliflower

5. The letter ‘u’
    This letter is pronounced as /juː/ in British English and /uː/ in American English
    assume /əˈsjuːm/   /əsuːm/   news  /njuːz/    /nuːz/

    A few more words
   attitude, avenue, resume, consume, gratuity, minute(adj)

6. change of diphthong  the British /əʊ/ to the American English /oʊ/
    go /əʊ/  /goʊ/     no/əʊ/    /oʊ/   crow  /krəʊ/    /kroʊ/ 
    promotion /prəməʊʃn/    /prəmoʊʃn/   romantic  /rəʊmæntɪk/   /roʊmæntɪk/

7. The ‘i’ in ‘ization’ is pronounced differently:
   civilization    }        /aɪ/ in British English and /ɪ/ in American English    
   organization  }
   authorization }
   globalization }

8. The letter ‘t’ coming in the middle can be pronounced as ‘d’ in these words in American
    English:
    better         water     hated      writing   bottom     native    artificial      notice

9. ‘ile’ are pronounced differently: /aɪl/ in British English and  / əl/ in American English
    agile    /ˈædʒaɪl/   /ˈædʒ əl/  
    fertile      hostile     versatile
    mobile (adj) /moʊbəl/  and mobile (noun) /moʊbiːl/ in American English 
___________________________________________________________________________

1.2 There’s difference in syllable stress:
                                    British                   American
      ballet                      /ˈbæleɪ/                   /bælˈeɪ/  
      brochure                /ˈbrəʊʃər/                /broʊˈʃʊr/
      garage                   /ˈgærɑːʒ/                 /gərˈɑːʒ/
     vaccine                  /ˈvæksiːn/               /vækˈsiːn/             
     advertisement        /ədˈvɜːtɪsment/      /ˈædvərˈtaɪzmənt/

In American English, the verb is often stressed on the first syllable:
deˈcrease (Br)     ˈdecrease (Am)    reˈsearch (Br)   ˈresearch (Am)

__________________________________________________________________________ 

 1.3 Spelling
1. –our and –or     
                                           
Br
Br/Am
Am
armour
colour
favour

neighbour




glamour
armor               
color
favor
glamor*1
neighbor

2. –ll- and –l-

Br
Br/Am
Am





jewellery
councillor
counsellor
(un)equalled
install
marvellous

travelled
traveller
woollen
controller
controlled
councilor
counselor*1
(un)euqaled*1
instal
marvelous
jewelry
traveled*1
traveler*1
woolen*1



3. –re and –er

Br
Br/Am
Am
centre



metre


fibre
litre
meagre

sombre
theatre
acre
center
fiber*1
liter *1
meagre*1
meter
somber*1
theater*1


4. –l and –ll

Br
Br/Am
Am




instal

skilful
appal
distil
enrol
fulfil
install*2
instalment

wilful
appall*1
distill*1
enroll*1
fulfill*1

installment
skillfull
wilfull*1

5. –ae- /-oe- and –e 

Br
Br/Am
Am


anaesthetic


foetus
haemorrhage
manoeuvre
archaeology
aeon

encyclopaedia*2
encyclopedia*2



aerial
archaeology
eon
anesthetic


fetus
hemorrhage
maneuver


6. –ence and –ense 

Br
Br/Am
Am
defence
licence (n)

offence
pretence


license (v)
defense
license (n)

offense
pretense

7. –ogue and –og

Br
Br/Am
Am

analogue
catalogue
dialogue
prologue*2
travelogue*2
rouge
analog
catalog*1
dialog
prolog
travelog


8. –amme and –am

Br
Br/Am
Am


programme
Aerogramme
program (computer)

telegram
kilogram
aerogram

program

9. –ou and -o
mould—mold,  moulder—molder,  smoulder—smolder,  shoulder—shoulder

10. other common differences

Br
Br/Am
Am
analyse
paralyse





storey
(building)





cheque (money)
dependant (n)




kerb
maths

speciality
sulphur
tyre (wheel)
vice


cosy

ageing
eyeing
likeable


embed*2
enclose*2
ensure
indefinable
axe

dependent (n)
grey
plough
practise (v)
practice (n)


sceptical

analyze
paralyze
cozy

aging
eying
likable
story

imbed
inclose
insure
undefinable
ax
check
dependent (n)
gray
plow
practice (v)
practise (n)
curb
math
skeptical
specialty
sulfur
tire
vise

Note: *1 the usual spelling in American English
          *2 the usual spelling in British English

11. verbs ending in ‘-ize’ or ‘-ise’
The ‘ize’ spelling can be used in American, Australian and British English, and is the spelling used in the dictionary. The ‘ise’ spelling is found frequently in British and American English. The following words (which are not all verbs) should always be given the ‘ise’ ending in all varieties of English. Words are groups by pronunciationl

aɪz
advertise, advise (v), arise, clockwise, compromise, despise, devise, disguise, enterprise (n), exercise, otherwise, revise, supervise, surprise, wise

 z
expertise (n)

aɪs
 concise (adj), precise (adj)

source: Chamber’s Dictionary
___________________________________________________________________________

1.4 Vocabulary
The differences you see below are the most common ones.
Kitchen

Br
Am
tap
cooker
cutlery
bin
fridge
dish rack
wash basin
flannel
washing powder
sieve
tin-opener
lemon-squeezer
cooling tray
grill
roasting tin
loaf tin
Faucet
stove
silverware
wastebasket
refrigerator
plate rack
sink
wash cloth
laundry detergent
sifter
can-opener
juicer
cooling rack
broil
roasting pan
loaf pan

2. car

Br
Am
car
aerial
bonnet
windscreen
number plate
indicator
sidelight
boot
wing
wing mirror
tyre
rear light
reversing light
silencer
exhaust (pipe)
speedometer /
mileomter
accelerator
gear stick
handbrake
petrol
overtake
car/auto(mobile)
antenna
hood
windshield
license plate
blinker / turn signal
parking light
trunk
fender
side mirror
tire
tail-light
backup light
muffler
tail pipe
odometer

gas pedal
gear shift
emergency brake
gas
pass

3. Road

Br
Am
pavement
kerb
traffic light
railway
lorry
zebra crossing /
pedestrian
T-junction
roundabout
tailback
toll gate
slip road
motorway
ring road
breakdown truck
side walk
curb
stop light
railroad
truck
cross walk

intersection
traffic circle
traffic jam
toll booth
ramp
interstate
beltway
tow truck

4. Office
Br
Am
lift
caretaker

bin
wage (pay) packet
wastepaper basket
notice board
drawing pin
Sellotape/ sticky tape
rubber
car park
mobile phone
elevator
janitor /
custodian
trash can
paycheck
waste basket
bulletin board
thumbtack/ tack
scotch tape
eraser
parking lot
cell/ cellular phone

5. bank

Br
Am
cheque
counterfoil
current account
note
check
stub
checking account
bill 

6. miscellaneous

Br
Am
shop
shop assistant
biscuit
flat
ground floor
lift
board and lodging
timetable
film      
luggage    
long-sighted (eye)             
short-sighted (eye)
ECG
nappy
cot
pram
anti-clockwise
unit trust
trade union
theme park
torch
minute hand
hour hand
chemist
chemist’s
lavatory
jug
cotton buds
draughts
trousers
(under)pants /
underwear
vest (under  a shirt)
waistcoat
pullover
quilt
murder

store
salesclerk
cookie
apartment
first floor
elevator
room and board
schedule
movie
baggage
far-sighted
near-sighted
EKG
diaper
crib
baby carriage
counter clockwise
mutual fund
labor union
amusement park
flash light
big hand (clock)
small hand (clock)
druggist
drug store
bathroom
pitcher
cotton swabs
checkers
pants
underpants /underwear

undershirt
vest
sweater
duvet
homicide
___________________________________________________________________________

1.5 Grammar
AmE - Do you have any siblings?
BrE - Have you got any brothers or sisters?
AmE - It is important that she be told.
BrE - It is important that she is told.
AmE - The jury has not yet reached its decsion.
BrE - The jury have not yet reached their decision.
AmE - Go get your book.
BrE - Go and fetch your book.
AmE - He dove into the water.
BrE - He dived into the water.
AmE - You must come visit me real soon.
BrE - You must come and visit me really soon.
AmE- Jake has gotten real fat.
BrE – Jakc has got real fat
AmE –Carrie spelled the word correctly.
BrE –Carrie spelt the word correctly
AmE-I think I lost my camera.
BrE –I think I’ve lost my camera.
AmE-The shop is open Monday through Saturday.
BrE –The shop is open from Monday to Saturday.
AmE-We should leave by ten of eight.
BrE –We should leave by ten to eight.
AmE-It’s quarter after seven.
BrE –It’s quarter past seven.
AmE-She’s always leaving her clothes around.
BrE --She’s always leaving her clothes about.
AmE-The group has shown little interest in this project.
BrE -- The group have/ has shown little interest in this project.

1.6 Usage
This was a trick question because in fact all of the sentences are more likely to be said or written by an American than a Briton! Here they are again with their English equivalents:
AmE - I'll try and visit you on the weekend.
BrE - I'll try to visit you at the weekend.
AmE - Please write me when you arrive.
BrE - Please write to me when you arrive.
AmE - Call me as soon as you get there.
BrE - Ring me (phone me) as soon as you get there.
AmE - Most everyone has a telephone and a refrigerator these days.
BrE - Almost everyone has a telephone and a fridge these days.
AmE - If you make a mistake, you'll just have to do it over.
BrE - If you make a mistake, you'll just have to do it again.
AmE - He was born 3/27/1981.
BrE - He was born on 27/3/1981.
AmE - The soccer team won two to nothing (2-0).
BrE - The soccer team won two-nil (2-0).
AmE - She arrived at twenty of two.
BrE - She arrived at twenty to two.
AmE - The secretary said, "Mr. Clinton will see you soon."
BrE - The secretary said: "Mr Clinton will see you soon."
The difference in the last two sentences is in the punctuation.
________________________________________________________________________

1.7 A few more differences
British and American English can use certain prepositions differently as in these examples (Brit vs. Amer):
At the weekend vs. On the weekend
In a team vs. On a team
Talk to John vs. Talk with John
Different to vs. Different than
Where are you? vs. Where are you at? (informal)

There are also some small differences between idioms in the two varieties (Brit vs. Amer):
A storm in a teacup vs. A tempest in a teapot
Flogging a dead horse vs. Beating a dead horse
Touch wood vs. Knock on wood
Sweep under the carpet vs. sweep under the rug

AMERICANISMS IN BRITISH ENGLISH
Over the last few decades, British English has come under increasing influence from American English. This is because the majority of television programmes, films and music are exported to the UK from the States and people pick up words and expressions they are commonly exposed to, thus bringing them into general usage. Conservatives argue this is damaging British English, while liberals say it is a natural process of language evolution and change. Whichever side you are on, the fact remains that American is the dominant form of English in the world and has the greatest influence on its other varieties through the mass media and popular culture.

1.8 Examples of Americanisms in modern British English:
Can I get a… (Brit. Can I have a…)
Two times (Brit. Twice)
On the weekend (Brit. At the weekend)
I’m good (Brit. I’m fine/well)
Period (Brit. Full stop)
Write me (Brit. Write to me, write me an email)
Take a shower (Brit. Have a shower)
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