Communication and Soft Skills

In this course’s required reading — Deborah Tannen’s That’s Not What I Meant (2011) — Dr. Tannen points out that how people communicate is as important as the information content of their messages. Too often, conflict that arises between people is tied to misunderstandings rooted in the way they convey their messages.

a. a. In the book’s Preface, Tannen states: “…all communication is more or less cross-cultural.” What does she mean by this statement? Why is it important to approach communication among people as an exercise in understanding possible cross-cultural differences among them? Illustrate your points with examples. (One to two pages, single-spaced)

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a. b. Tannen argues that when looking at communication between people, it is important to distinguish between information content and metamessages. Define what each of these constructs means. How do they work together to convey what people communicate to each other? If they are misaligned, how can they contribute to misunderstandings between people? Provide two examples of how a person who focuses solely on conveying information content to others, and does not understand the workings of metamessages, can miscommunicate his/her intended message. (One to two pages long, single-spaced)

a. c. Tannen points out that a common communication strategy is to convey intended messages indirectly. What points does she make about this? Why do people convey messages indirectly? What are its advantages? What are its disadvantages? Illustrate your points with examples. (One to two pages long, single-spaced)

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