Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

A Shared Field Model of Communication

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

A Shared Field Model of Communication

Article excerpt

WHEN TWO HUMAN BEINGS enter each other's field of perception, they are then in communication. There is no sender or receiver. Each person is both "sending" and "receiving," constantly. They cannot not communicate.

This means that if people can see each other, or hear each other, or touch each other, they are in communication. The questions then to be asked involve the metaphor of how deep this communication is.

* People may be passing on a city street. People see each other, perhaps note the clothes, or walk, or attitude of the other, but then move on. There is some communication, but it is of little depth.

* Strangers passing on the street may acknowledge each other, perhaps with a nod of the head. There is a little more depth of communication here.

* People on the street may stop and talk, if they know each other. They quickly fill in each other on what they are up to, how the family is, etc. Here, there is still more depth of communication.

* Or people may be walking along together, talking earnestly about some issue of concern. Communication is occurring at great depth.

This shared field model of communication rests upon two metaphors: a field, and depth. The field is basically the contents of consciousness of a person at any given time. This is very difficult to diagram visually. The consciousness of a person will always include some memories, some body feelings, some self-concept. Consciousness is constantly shifting, its attention wandering to new objects, its contents in perpetual flux. It is an edifying exercise to watch one's own consciousness.

When two people enter each other's field of consciousness, communication begins. Communication is therefore not an exceptional event between a sender and a receiver. …

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