Welcome to the next video in module one, which is all about rethinking communication. Now in this video, we'll look at the conventional approach for understanding communication. What scholars often call the transmission model of communication. This is the operating system most of us run, sort of the factory installed version that is the default in our culture. It works fine for much of our day to day life, but it often breaks down when things get complicated. And usually doesn't have the capacity to account for the complexities of human interaction, in our modern landscape of group work. So, we'll look at the critiques of the transmission model, with an eye towards an alternative model of communication, that of social construction, which is the focus of our next video. But first, let's examine the transmission model of communication in more detail. If you've taken an introductory communication class, or attended a communication workshop, you've probably learned the basics of communication processes in a way that looks something like this. Basically, communication involves the exchange of messages between senders and receivers, through a particular channel, subject to noise and interference, and often resulting in some sort of feedback. Effective communication thus entails the successful transmission of information, where the message received is the same message the sender intended. Thus, the transmission model of communication. And communication problems involve breakdowns in the transmission process. Like when the wrong channel is used to transmit a message, or noise interferes with the proper reception of the message. So, according to this model, the general purpose, or definition of communication is to transfer information from one person to another, or from one place to another. Simple enough, right? Well, at a basic level this approach to communication describes many of our day to day communication experiences. When we make a phone call, or send a text, or e-mail message, or have a face to face conversation with someone, it certainly seems like we're engaging in a process of message transmission between senders and receivers. And any communication problem should be resolved with a straightforward adjustment to some aspect of this model. Just clarify your message, or try a different channel, or maybe eliminate some of the noise. Almost makes you wonder why we have so many communication problems in the first place. But if we go deeper, we realize that there is so much more going on in most communication situations than just message transmission, although there's certainly is at least that. The simplicity of all those day to day interactions, giving directions, planning our schedules, requesting information. Is actually underwritten by several underline assumptions and conditions that are in place that make the transmission possible to begin with. The transmission model works best when messages clearly represent the meanings in the minds of the sender. When the messages are transmitted without distortion, and when messages are received, and interpreted in the same way that they were intended. Now when those conditions are gone, the transmission model breaks down. Like, when I craft a message that doesn't quite capture the meaning I'm trying to convey, or when you receive a different message than I intended to send. But often it's not simply the case that we can just fix our communication by just restoring these conditions. Because it's actually quite difficult, sometimes even impossible, to have these conditions in the first place. Meaning is elusive, not easily captured by our language. Language creates the social realities in our minds as much as it reflects it. There are almost always distortions in our message transmission, conflicting cultural norms or values, personal biases or assumptions, political interests or even ideological motivations. And virtually any message is open to multiple interpretations, even if the sender is very clear about what they claim to mean in a particular situation. And furthermore, what happens if all these conditions of meaning, limited distortion and interpretation are in place, and we still don't agree? Still don't understand each other. Then what we've got here is a true failure to communicate, as the famous scene from the movie Cool Hand Luke demonstrates. The fact is, many of our so called communication problems, are marked by instances where people actually do understand each others messages fairly well, yet still don't align, connect, or agree. And it's a mistake to just think that we can fix these problems by simply tweaking some aspect of the transmission model. In fact, in these situations, striving to clarify our positions as the transmission model would suggest, can even make our conflicts worse. Surely, you've been in a situation where your attempts to clarify yourself further just seem to dig yourself deeper into a pit. See, a big part of the problem is that this whole transmission model was developed to understand and explain information processing, in static technical systems that involve intentional, formal, explicit and logical transmission of information. Not human communication and social interaction. Things like, non-verbal communication, unintentional messages, and interpretive differences are all considered noise that interfere with channel capacity, and the efficient transmission of information. So, it's not that this model is wrong, but rather that it's rarely the case especially in group interaction. The conditions necessary for the model to work effectively are in place. Now don't get me wrong, effective communication transmission is absolutely essential in many areas of life. For groups, and small businesses, and multinational corporations to non-profits and government agencies. If people don't communicate the right information, to the right people, at the right times, in the right ways, thing are going to fall apart. Directions are not followed, customers aren't satisfied, clients aren't served, regulations aren't obeyed, and general chaos often ensues. And for groups in certain high risk organizations, like our military, or your local fire department, getting the right information to the right people is absolutely critical. So we certainly need quality message transmission for effective group communication, but that's only part of the story. What I'm saying, is that the transmission model of communication is not sufficient to account for the complexities of human interaction in so many situations. Human communication often involves so much more than just information processing. And when we're working in groups with other people, the biggest issues usually involve meaning, interpretation, and understanding, not just information processing. To account for these issues, we need a different model of communication. We need an upgrade to a new operating system, so to speak. The transmission model of communication works well among people who already share deeply held cultural norms and beliefs, about what is true, right and prudent. But, of course, all this is really the case when we work with groups of other people, in both civic and professionals contexts. And these are the situations where we need to think differently about communication, beyond the conventional wisdom of communication as message transmission. So, in our next video, we'll explore an alternative model of communication, communication as social construction. See you then.