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How To Learn Sign Language

[COMM 254] 2. What is Communication? What is Theory?


[upbeat instrumental music]>>Now you’ve all heard
roughly the divorce rate in this country, right? Roughly is what? 50%, which by the way,
it’s never been 50%. That’s kind of one of these
myths that has been around. But it’s in the 40s, and at times, it’s been in the mid to high 40s. It’s never really been 50%. But, those of you thinking
about getting married in what we call the divorce culture, that is really bad news. A lot of high school
students actually refer to their first marriage
as a starter marriage. Just like you buy a starter
house with the expectation of, eventually we’re
gonna outgrow this house and move up to a bigger
one, high school students will routinely say that
their first marriage is kind of a starter marriage, right? I hope I don’t get divorced, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I did. So, knowing that we live
in the divorce culture, knowing that the divorce
rate is roughly mid 40s, it’s actually going down
a little bit in culture, but even if we went to 40%, we would say that that’s really tragic. Now, let’s put our heads together and come up with reasons
why the divorce rate is so high in this country. Why, yeah?>>Student: People rush into marriage.>>Okay, people rushing into marriage. I notice that at Biola, by the way, this weird attitude that
I need to meet the person I’m gonna spend the rest
of my life with at Biola. When Noreen and I spoke
at the Torrey Institute, here at Biola, the Torrey Conference, we actually approached
the alumni association and asked the question, how many people actually meet their spouse here, and a minuscule amount of people actually meet their spouse at Biola. You’re gonna meet your spouse later. So there’s really no rush, okay? Other reasons why the
divorce rate’s so high?>>Student: Financial burdens.>>Yeah, number two reason
stated is financial pressures why couples call it quits, okay? Anybody else? Yeah.>>Student: Lack of communication.>>Lack of communication. National Communication
Association did a huge study asking couples, why is
marriage so difficult, and why do people break up. Number one response, we can’t
communicate with each other. Can’t do it, okay? Anybody else, why? Thoughts? Yeah?>>Student: I guess that sometimes a baby is conceived before marriage, and they have to get married
on the families’ orders.>>Sure, yeah. Pregnancy, premarital pregnancy. We could add that in a
much broader category of just getting married for
not the greatest reasons, okay? Anybody else? Yeah?>>Student: May be an
effect of watching too many Disney movies, having unrealistic or just underdeveloped expectations
for what marriage is.>>You know, that’s really huge. University of London did a
study analyzing the effect of American romance
movies, You’ve Got Mail, any Julia Roberts movie, but Notting Hill, Maid in America. What effect did that
actually have on couples’, Americans’ ideas what love is? And they said, Kimberly Johnson said it has devastating effects
on Americans’ conception of what love should be, right, this idea that a soulmate
can meet all my needs, that the person I’m in love
with should know what I’m experiencing without me even
having to articulate it. Devastating myths, okay? Now, these are all great ideas. What’s the weakness of all these ideas that we’re throwing out? What’s the general weakness
of all these pretty good ideas about the divorce rate? What’s the weakness of all of our ideas? Yeah?>>Student: Lots of
people have gotten married for every one of those reasons, and their marriage has maybe worked.>>Oh, awesome, counter-evidence, okay? Good. But more of a general
weakness of what we’re doing in this class right now? We’re kind of just
throwing out ideas, right? So some of these ideas
definitely made sense. But the weakness of it is,
we have no way of knowing if these ideas actually are true of why the divorce rate
is so high in our country. They seem like they work,
and at first observation, they seem like they’re
perfectly good explanations for the divorce rate. That is not what this class is about. This class is an introduction
to communication theory. So we would wanna step back and say, how do we know that these factors? Now, with the one with
the romantic love movies, romance movies, the University
of London actually did some studies to show, we
theorize that this actually is having an impact on individuals today. But they actually did a study to do it, actually interviewing American couples, asking if they’ve seen certain movies and then saying, how
has that affected you. They actually tried to make it a study. So this first lecture
is actually important, because we’re gonna define two things: one, what is communication? Second, what is a theory? Important for us to do that. John Gottman, one of the
top communication theorists as well as relational
theorists, was interested in tackling this idea
of divorce in America, and listen to some of the things he says. “My goal has been nothing more ambitious “than to uncover the truth about marriage, “to find the answer to the questions “that have puzzled people for so long: “why is marriage so tough at times? “Why do some lifelong relationships click “while others just tick
away like a time bomb?” And then he lists some of these really depressing statistics. The chance for a first
marriage ending in divorce over a 40-year period he says is 67%. Half of all divorces will
occur, if they do occur, within the first seven
years of the marriage. Some studies find the divorce
rate for second marriages is as high as 10% than
for those of first timers. Then he said this. He became famous actually
for this statement. “I can predict whether
a couple will divorce “after watching and listening to them for just five minutes.” And his research has shown
that he’s been accurate in the 90th percentile. Of watching two people
argue for five minutes, I can predict in the 90th percentile whether that couple will
get a divorce or not. Now, listen, I can do that too, if one person has a machete, okay? [class laughs] I would look at that couple,
and I would say, okay, that’s not good, okay? They’re probably not gonna make it, okay? But fascinating. Then he goes on to say this. “These predictions are
not based on my intuition or pre-conceived notions
of what marriage should be, but on the data I’ve accumulated
over years of study.” And his research pool was
roughly 5,000 couples, is how he comes to make
this expert opinion, based on a theory of what
will happen to couples if they do one of four things, and these four things
he mentions, he calls the four horsemen of a
relational apocalypse. And we’ll talk about those later. But he would say if I
identify any four of these that habitually happen in a relationship, that relationship will get a divorce. And he’s one of the top
scholars in the fields of marital research and
interpersonal communication. So, let’s do this with
what we’re talking about. First, we’re gonna offer a really in-detail definition of communication. Then we’re gonna give a definition
of what theory is, okay? Now, before we even define communication, let’s talk about all the hope
we’ve given to communication. Right? We tend to believe that if, in
the Middle East peace talks, the two sides can just
come together and talk, we have hope, that maybe we’ll actually resolve our differences. When a couple is arguing,
if we can just get ’em into therapy, that they can
actually talk to someone, we have great hope that
communication can actually save a marriage, can save war
between two different countries or two different communities. The book of Proverbs absolutely agrees with the power of communication. Listen to some of these verses
from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 16:24. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and
healing to the bones. You’ve all received a compliment, right, that just made your day. By the way, if you don’t
believe this is true, do your own experiment. Walk out of this class,
walk up to somebody and say, have you lost weight? And that person will be
like, well, you know. [class laughs] You working out? You working out? Yeah, I’ve been. Yeah, you know, just a
little bit here and there. Just do that to a person, and it’ll absolutely make your day. You’re just kind of like, wow, I think I’m gonna go get Starbucks, ’cause obviously, I’m
doing well right now, okay? [class laughs] But listen to the, the opposite
of that, Proverbs 15:1. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. A harsh word can make
us angry very quickly. Or how about Proverbs 18:21, life and death are in
the power of the tongue. You can impart life to a person, or you can impart death
through what you say. Georgetown linguist Debra Tannen says your mouth is a loaded weapon. It does not matter to
the person, by the way, that they were shot accidentally
or on purpose, right? Our words can really hurt individuals. But what’s funny about
communication is, we often don’t take time to even define
what we’re talking about. We just throw out this word communication, but we do not take a hard look at it. So what we need to do
as communication majors is understand all the complexities
of human communication. Matter of fact, one
communication scholar said that in the literature today, there are over 100
definitions of communication. So even communication
theorists really struggle to define this thing called communication. I’m gonna use the definition that your textbook uses, Julia Wood. So let me write it on the
board, and I guarantee you, this is a definition you’ll need to know forwards, backwards, inside out, and know all the different
components of this definition. But here’s the definition of communication I wanna throw out to us. Communication is a systemic process in which individuals interact with and through symbols to create, you thought you were done, to create and interpret meanings. So that’s our definition of communication. Communication is a systemic
process in which individuals interact with and through symbols to create and interpret meanings. And this comes from your textbook. This would be Julia Wood. Now, we’re gonna break down
every part of that definition. The first part is that
communication is a process. Communication is a process. Off the top of your
heads, tell me one or two television shows that you
just can’t jump in on.>>Student: Lost.>>Lost.>>Student: 24.>>24. Right? Hey, come on in. Grab a seat.>>Student: I just need
you to sign something.>>Oh, okay.>>Could I?>>Yeah. Can I do it after class?>>I’ll be back.>>Okay, thank you. And you’re on TV. [class laughs] Okay, so, 24. There were times, hey,
come on, grab a seat. No, that’s okay. 24. Well, Lost. Every once in a while, Noreen and I, one of my really good friends, he’s a writer, speaker, loves Lost. Thinks it’s one of the most profound shows he’s ever seen in his lifetime. So, every once and a while,
Noreen and I would turn it on. And you got these two guys
down in this deep well, and some clock is going, and
the thing is about restarting this clock, or life’s
gonna end as we know it, and Noreen and I would
just sit there and think, what is going on? Who can make sense of this? So there’s certain shows
you just can’t jump in on. Do you have conversations
with your friends that if somebody were to jump in on it would think that you are just crazy? Right? What that shows is that all
of communication is a process, that every conversation really
has a history behind it, and that for most of us, the
process of communication means that what you said prior
to the conversation has direct impact on the conversation. I have a good friend of mine in Chicago. He’ll call me, and he’ll
say, just on the phone. Now, this guy’s a pastor, okay? He’ll call me, and he’ll
just say, this sucks. That’s all he says. Sometimes, he says, this sucks,
and then hangs up the phone. That’s it. He doesn’t even need to say anything more. Why? Because I know exactly what he’s saying. If it’s hockey season, my
beloved Detroit Red Wings have lost to the hated,
satanic Colorado Avalanche. [class laughs] Okay, that’s all he needs to say. If he calls and he
says, this really sucks, the University of Michigan has lost to either Ohio State or Notre Dame. Both are equally horrible, by the way. Equally horrible. ‘Cause we’ve been born
and raised in Michigan. We love the University of Michigan. We love the Detroit Red Wings. So that’s all he needs to say. That’s it. Erik Thoennes will call
me every once in a while, and all he’ll say on
the phone, my message, is, where are the animals? [class laughs] That’s it. ‘Cause Erik and I will find ourselves in certain situations, and
you know those horror movies? You know something really
bad’s about to happen when there are no animals. Why aren’t the birds chirping right now? So, Erik will, every once in a while, just leave on my phone
message, where are the animals? [class laughs] That’s it, that’s it. So, it’s a process, right? There’s a Russian linguist
who has a great concept. He calls it already spokens. Already spokens. His name is Bakhtin. The already spokens of communication. It’s all the stuff that we said beforehand to bring us up to speed. All that background information. I recently did an apologetics conference with two of the top
thinkers in apologetics, and jumped in on a conversation
where they were arguing that the number one
could only really exist in the mind of God. And I just sat there. Now, listen, I’m too proud to say, I have no idea what you’re saying. So I sat and listened
to ’em and would go, oh. [class laughs] Yeah, yeah. No idea what they were talking about. They were using words that were English, but I had no idea what
they meant, honestly, because you just can’t jump
in on certain conversations. So with every single
person you can think of, you have a list of already
spokens with that person. It forms the context of
everything you say with them. Has there even been a person
you tried to joke around with, and it didn’t go well? [class laughs] Right? And so next time
you interact with them, you’re like, I am not joking. Noreen’s dad is a Mr. Fix It kind of guy. He’s just a Mr. Fix It. He can make a bomb out of rope. He’s just stunning, this guy. Well, I don’t know how to do anything. I honestly do not know how to do anything. My wife is a Mr. Fix It kind of woman. I’ll leave on a speaking trip. I’ll come back and I’ll say,
was this room here before? This is amazing, right? My kids know that. They’ll say to me often,
when the faucet was leaking one time, my oldest son said, let’s get mom’s tools and go fix it. [class laughs] I put him on time out. I said, you don’t, you
don’t talk to dad that way. So, I know nothing, okay? [class laughs] So, Mr. Lannehan, when
we first got married, is a Mr. Fix It. So I would find myself
trying to impress him, and by saying the stupidest things. I mean, like this, you know what I mean? I’d go, hey, what’s this wood made out of? And he goes, it’s not, it’s plastic. And I’d be like, yeah. [class laughs] Oak plastic, that’s… Already spokens. Let me tell you one really funny one. We came back from our honeymoon, and Noreen’s mom was
graciously doing laundry, and she grabbed Noreen,
and she said, Noreen, all of Tim’s underwear has the name Dave written inside them. And Noreen was like, oh, mom, I need to tell you a little
bit about Dave, right. Tim and Dave were roommates at
Eastern Michigan University. Now, we’re probably gonna
cut this from iTunes, okay? [class laughs] But you know, let’s just be honest. Let’s be real, okay? You’re busy as college students, right? You’re busy, right? Life gets crazy, doesn’t it? You don’t have time to study, do everything you have to do, right? Can we all just agree on that? Sometimes you don’t have time for laundry. That’s just a reality, isn’t it? It’s just a reality. And you get to the point, you have no certain piece of laundry. [class laughs] You have nothing. There are no good options anymore, ’cause you’re just too busy. Your roommate has
absolutely clean everything, and in a moment of weakness,
you take his certain garment. Okay? Then you, I’m not proud of this. Then you are walking back to campus, and because you’re just
dorky juniors or whatever, you get into a wrestling match and start to give each other wedgies, to the point that this
undergarment, they’re ripping. I am laughing so hard I cannot breathe, and Dave says, what
are you laughing about? I said, this is your underwear. [class laughs] And he goes, it better not be. Well, it was. And he lost two pair
of underwear that day. So for my wedding present,
he gave me a hundred pair of underwear, and had written
Dave in permanent marker on every single one of ’em. [class laughs] Those are my friends, okay? So, Noreen’s mom had no
concept of the already spokens. Noreen was like, this is, yeah,
this is the man I married, and that’s one of the more
sane friends he has, okay? So, the already spokens
are incredibly important. Now, just for a second, think about this in our Christian context. You wanna talk to a person
about the Christian worldview. That person has already
spokens that make up their understanding of
what Christianity is. They’ve had conversations with people. They’ve met Christians who unfortunately have not acted in a
particularly Christlike way. Guess what? You walk into that
person’s already spokens. When the Barna Group did their research and produced the book unChristian, what was one word that
non-Christians in their 20s picked to describe Christians
was the word judgmental. And by judgmental, they
actually defined it, you quickly dismiss the
viewpoints of other people. Guess what? You walk into that
person’s unspokens, right? Even the cultural unspokens
that are present everywhere. Okay? These unspokens are incredibly
important to understand the context of a conversation you’re about to have with a person. You walk right into all
their already spokens. By the way, there could be already spokens we’ve created in this class already. Some of you, and I will publicly deny it and then confess it later, okay, you’ll share this underwear
story with people, and I’ll say, I don’t, I think that was
Matt Williams’s class. [class laughs] I don’t, I don’t think that was mine. Yeah, I don’t, no, I
wouldn’t have done that, especially since I’m going
up for tenure this year. I didn’t do, that’s gross. I never would have done that. Okay? So, we have our already
spokens, and by the way, people are gonna come into class, and we’ll have this inside joke, and they’ll be like, that
makes no sense whatsoever. Well, that’s okay. It’s part of our already spokens. They make up a huge part of
the process of communication. By the way, very good for you to be aware of what the already spokens
are with different people that you wanna connect with, okay? So that’s the very first thing, is that communication is this process. Number two, all communication
is what we call systemic. Systemic means that when
you talk to a person, you speak into their system of meaning. When you speak to a person, it’s systemic. You walk into a person’s
system of meaning. All of it’s related. How did they come up with
that system of meaning? Well, they grew up in a particular family. They grew up in a particular
part of the United States, or they’re international. So when you talk to a person, you’re talking to their gender. You’re talking to their ethnic background. You’re talking to their
educational background. You have just entered into
their system of meaning. It’s systemic. It’s all interrelated. So, sometimes, you’ll say a word that is just
grossly misinterpreted. My wife and I speak for
Family Life conferences, these marriages conferences,
and in these conferences, when we’re done, every
speaker is evaluated by a random sampling of the audience, just to see how the speaker’s doing. I was very surprised one day
when I got a comment that said, hey, really liked the conference. I was kind of surprise
that the speaker was using semi-inappropriate language. And I was like, what in the world? Well, she wrote down the
word that I had said. She said, when he used the word asinine, I just thought that
that was inappropriate. And I’m going, what? That’s not a swear word. Asinine is not a swear word. Well, my wife said to me wisely, honey, maybe you better stop saying it. And I said no, no. Got another evaluation
from another conference. Yeah, kind of surprised to see the speaker using blue language. When he said the word asinine,
I was slightly offended. I was like, that’s asinine.
This is, you know what I mean? [class laughs] That is not what that word means. That is a perfectly legitimate word. It’s not a swear word. It’s not. But then I thought about one
time what Mark Twain said. When one person calls
you an ass, ignore it. If two people call you
an ass, buy a saddle. [class laughs] Okay? So, I’m up here using a word
that is clearly distracting to some of the audience members. Now, that word does not mean that, okay? But for some people, it’s a swear word. So as a good communicator,
I’m speaking into their system of meaning, I need to evaluate it not as I’m using it, but as they hear it. Now, let me give you a little bit more of a sober illustration. There was a high school
teacher, I’m sorry, elementary school teacher, who was white, teaching in a predominantly
black elementary school. She passed out what my kids
got all through elementary school, and those were
your vocabulary words, your spelling words that
you’re gonna be tested on. One word she gave out
was the word niggardly. Now, who knows what the word niggardly actually means in the dictionary? What does the word niggardly mean? Stingy. To use properly, hey,
don’t be so niggardly. Next time, buy lunch, okay? So that’s what the word means. A lot of parents, African American parents,
were deeply offended. Why? ‘Cause the word had a
negative connotation. I suppose if niggardly meant heroic, some people wouldn’t have
had a problem with it. But it didn’t. It had a negative, stingy. So they were upset enough that
they approached the principal and said, what kind of teacher do you have that could not understand
that the word niggardly would have negative connotations, and she’s passing it out to
African American students? Do you know, she lost her job, okay? Now, those words are important. By the way, same thing
happened in politics. One of the staff of a mayor of Washington used the word publicly,
and he was dismissed. By the way, I’ve shared
that with some people and had people get really upset, and they’re like, that’s ridiculous. That’s political
correctness run amok, okay? But the fact is, when I say a word, it goes into your system of meaning, and as a good communicator,
I probably should know a little bit what your
system of meaning is. When we went to Lithuania
for a year, you can’t treat Lithuanians the same
way you treat Americans. Different systems of meaning. So, a huge part of
communication is to say, how did you just use that word, and what does it mean to you? A funny story, I once said
to Noreen quite casually, I told her I loved her
when we were dating. It was actually in the
midst of an argument. And I said, listen, you’re
really frustrating me, but I know I love you, and that was it. I’d never said that word to her before. She went home and semi-wigged
out, ’cause to her, love is synonymous with the word marriage. I went home, talked to my roommate, Athletes in Action staff, sat down with him and said,
he said, what’s the matter? I said, ha, Noreen and I had an argument, but I think it’s okay, ’cause
I told her I loved her. John was like, what did you say to her? I said that I loved her. And he goes, what, what
do you mean by that? And I was like, what are you
getting so worked up about? He goes, Tim, the word love, you don’t throw that out to a woman. He said, now, what did you mean by that? I said, it means I like you a lot. [class laughs] And he was like, I bet you
she didn’t hear it that way. And it wigged out Noreen. She was like, I’m not
ready to get married. I’m like, I’m not either! I like you a lot you know kind of a thing. [class laughs] So those words are only partially yours, ’cause when you give
’em to another person, they take that word,
and they interpret it. That’s why we’re gonna see that the most important
part of this definition is this idea of meanings. We create our own meanings
as we talk to each other. Yeah.>>Student: It’s almost
like we have to know the audience that we’re speaking to.>>Yeah, we have to know the audience we’re speaking to, absolutely, right? So when we say the word God,
we know exactly what we mean, right, ’cause we’re at Biola University. We know what we mean by God. We have a doctrinal statement that will tell you exactly what we mean. But when we use the word
God with a different group, they might be thinking life force. They might be thinking,
the God of what religion? So we have to understand,
most, now, you can’t know that for sure, but most likely,
when I talk to my kids, how is that different
from talking to my wife? You know what I mean? The jargon that we say at
Biola cannot be the same jargon that we use outside the gates of Biola. So it actually is gonna
lead to one of the most interesting concepts
we’ll eventually get to, and that is called perspective taking. I need to take your perspective, not just be locked into my perspective. So, we can say all day long
that it was supremely unfair to that teacher to be dismissed for a word that she did not mean had
any racial implications, but I would argue, if you’re
gonna be a good educator and a good communicator,
you can’t be perfect, but I would want to know how my words are going to be interpreted, at least a little bit of an understanding of the context of things, okay? That takes a lot of hard
work to do, by the way. So, number one, it’s a process. These already spokens
will play a huge part in the process of communication. Second, it is systemic. When you’re talking to a woman, you’re not talking to a man, right? They hear things differently. I teach a gender class here, and gender is a huge interpretive way to
look at the world, right? Men and women, either by
being socialized or by God implanting different things,
it doesn’t really matter, we hear things different,
men and women, right? Different priorities, different
ways to look at the world. If you’re, I teach a Bible
study with some small kids. Boy, they hear things totally different, and I have to realize, I
gotta change my vocabulary when I talk to certain kids. Okay, make sense? Process, systemic. The next one is we use symbols. We use symbols, which are abstract, arbitrary, and ambiguous
representation of things. So, symbols are abstract, arbitrary, and ambiguous representations
of other things. Now, not all symbols are equally abstract. If I say to you, I’m
going to sit on this desk, okay, now, that’s not overly abstract, ’cause I can actually
point to a referent, right? You can see the desk. But what about concepts
that really are ambiguous, where you can’t just point to it? For example, what’s fairness? What’s justice? What’s respect? What’s love? Those are symbols that we
use to refer to something that is ambiguous and abstract
and somewhat arbitrary, because I can’t actually point to justice. I can’t point to love. I can only describe it using symbols. Yeah?>>Student: Is it similar
with body language as well?>>Absolutely, totally can
be body language, totally. And it actually gets us in a
lot of trouble, doesn’t it? Because, your spouse tells
you you’re not interested in what I’m saying, and you’re like, I was looking right at you the whole time. I looked right at you. Oh, for one minute, I thought
about the Detroit Red Wings, but I came right back to you. And yet something about your body language is communicating to that person
that you’re not interested in what they’re saying. And you’re like, what, how are you interpreting
that, by the way, right? So if we have this word called attention, that’s going to be really
specific, most likely to you. I mean, there’s general
things we can do, right? If you’re talking to me and
I’m looking out the window, okay, that’s kind of obvious. But if I’m talking to you,
and just stop for a second and somebody walks by and
says hi and I go, hey, and I go back to you, you
might be sitting there going, see, you’re not interested
in what I’m saying. It’s like, what do you mean? Well, because you broke away,
addressed somebody else. Well, how many of you have
been talking to a person and their phone rings on vibrate,
and they just kind of go, as you’re talking to them, they go. I’m like, [class laughs] what was that? We’re talking, and you’re
checking, who cares who it is? You know what I mean? Are you gonna be deployed? [class laughs] That just kind of bothers me, okay? But, but, you might say, I
didn’t mean anything by that. I have a real problem with lateness, and I’m often late, so
I’m self-contradictory. But, I interpret lateness in
a very, you’re not interested, you’re not whatever kind of thing, okay? And some people might say, oh, I didn’t mean anything by that. I just happened to be late.
We got caught in traffic. Southern California. But yeah, we do interpret things, we have real meanings for things. And sometimes those meanings
were really discrete. That’s what culture wars are about. Culture war is often the
definition of a concept, right? What does it mean to have a family? What is marriage? That’s a culture war, because we disagree about the definitions of our symbols. Now, we often say that
it’s abstract, that a lot of our communication and
symbols are just abstract. I made dinner for my kids. Noreen was going out. I made dinner for my kids,
and I actually made brownies. I actually made ’em, and they came out, and they actually looked pretty good. Noreen was gone. She was actually gone on an
overnight with some friends. So we’re sitting here
with the brownies cooling, and just as we’re about to
start, one of my kids says to me, dad, why can’t we have the brownies first? And I just looked at him, and I said, well, because they’re dessert. And Jason, my middle son, said,
well, what does that mean? [class laughs] And I was like, you know
how you have an epiphany? I just looked at my kids and I said, we can have dessert first. [class laughs] Right? Who defined dessert? This is crazy. So, we pretty much
can’t tell mom, but yes, we can have dessert first. So our words a lot of times are arbitrary, abstract, and ambiguous. Are men superior than women? Well, it all depends on where you’re at. If you go to a Taliban-controlled country, women are treated as dogs, and
clearly as inferior to men. So, how we define these
words, incredibly important. Symbols we use. So, guess what? You walked into, with your family, you learned a bunch of symbols, right? My dad, you didn’t talk back to my dad. My dad was a factory worker from Detroit. You did not talk back to my dad, and you don’t roll your eyes, and you don’t shake your head at my dad. You don’t do it. You do it once and you’re done. That’s it. You do it once, you’ve
learned your lesson. Now, today, kids will,
you know what I mean? So, Noreen has actually had to say to me, you need to relax a
little bit with the kids, ’cause you kind of interpret
everything as a slight. You know what I mean? So I’ll say something,
and my kids will go. I’ll be like. [class laughs] And they’re like. I’m like, do not do that. Why is that so important to me? Because that’s how I grew up. So, if you sit down with
Tim Muehlhoff and say, how do you define the word respect, it’s very interesting when
you get to marital issues, and working issues. You know, I can feel slighted
by another faculty member because they didn’t do this. Well, that’s how I
define the word respect. Noreen could define the word
committed to the marriage. What constitutes being
committed to the marriage? Boy, I argue that marriage will
be you guys coming together and forming your own dictionary
of agreed-upon terms, right? I want you to be the spiritual leader. A woman looks at a man and says, you be the spiritual leader, and
every man has chest pains. It’s just like, what does that mean, be the spiritual leader? Praying more? Quoting Bible verses during a date? [class laughs] What… Well, you know, what you said
just reminded me of Hezekiah. [class laughs] It’s like, you know what I mean? Is that what? So these words really are
symbols that have to be defined. One of my favorite communication theorists said this about words. All words are riddles
that have to be unpacked. All words are riddles. One time I went into the bedroom. Jason was crying. Middle child, face down, crying. And I sat on the bed, and I
said, Jason, what is going on? You love Michael more than you love me. It’s the classic middle child. You love Michael more than me. And I’m just sitting there. I said to him, Michael,
Jason, that is not. [class laughs] [Tim laughs] I did not say that. But how many of you read the
book called Love Language by, Love Languages by…>>Student: Gary Chapman.>>What’s his name?>>Student: Gary Chapman.>>Yeah, Gary Chapman. Each one of us has a love language. Jason’s love language was time. And to be honest, he
had a really good point. Michael was on a baseball team that was playing for the championship. Jason was on a baseball team, they won their last two
games of the season. They lost every game, got slaughtered. So, often, these games were
at the exact same time, and I had gotten into
the really bad habit, ’cause Michael’s in a playoff race. I would just kind of go to Michael’s game. So, listening to Jason, how
does he define the word love? I could say to Jason, Jason,
I tell you I love you. Isn’t that enough? Well, for Jason, love is
primarily defined as time. So, all of these words
are symbols that we really need to understand that
we’re representing things. You know, the classic thing about God. You’ve heard this from theologians. When I say God is your father, for some people hearing
that, it’s a negative, because my father, our
relationship was not great. So to think of God as a father
just doesn’t work for me. Other people think, oh,
that’s a perfect analogy, because I love my dad, and
to think that God is my dad, that’s really powerful. So how we interpret those
things is really interesting. Then finally, we get
to the most important. So, these symbols have to
be created and interpreted. All of our symbols, love, respect, honor, all of these words, what do you mean by that? How do I know my kids honor me? How do I know my wife really loves me? I was speaking at a marriage conference and mentioned a survey I’d come
upon that women were asked, a huge population of women were asked, would you rather make love to your husband or have a good conversation on
the couch with your husband? What would you rather do? Do you know, 81% of respondents picked making love to their husband? No, I’m kidding. [class laughs] Having a good conversation, having a good conversation. How did they define intimacy? Face-to-face interaction is
how they defined intimacy. Right? So I say to my wife, of
course I wanna be intimate. And she says, well, I
wanna be intimate too. We both are literally using
different words, okay? Very interesting. Yeah, I’ll stop there. I have more illustrations, but I’ll stop, ’cause we’re being taped. [class laughs] All right, here we go. So, all of these symbols
have to be created, and they have to be interpreted. And the key of this definition
is number four, meanings. So, in the Muehlhoff
family, what does love mean? Well, guess what? Noreen and I have come together, and we’ve defined that word. It’s the Muehlhoff definition of love. What does it mean to be a godly family? Well, I don’t know what
your definition is. In the Muehlhoff family, we’ve
come up with this definition. Why? We had to hammer it out together. And guess what? You and your roommates, right, what is cleanliness in the apartment? Well, you’re gonna have
to hammer that out. One of the biggest
struggles Noreen and I have is how much do you have to actually clean for the babysitter? Early on in the marriage,
how clean does the house have to be for the
babysitter to come over? I’m like, honey, we’re paying this woman. We’re paying her, by the way. I know, but we need to clean. And I’m like, define clean. ‘Cause I’m looking around this place. I think it’s clean. This is nice. It’s clean. You should have seen me as a bachelor. [class laughs] This is like the Taj Mahal. This is gorgeous. And Noreen is like,
honey, come on, we gotta. One time, we were so busy, I
decided to surprise Noreen. I actually brought in cleaners. And I said, hey, I got a
surprise for you tomorrow. Noreen was like, what? Cleaners are coming. She said, Tim, thank you so much. Well, we gotta get ready for ’em. We gotta clean a little bit. [class laughs] Totally serious. I’m like, clean for the cleaners? Yes, we gotta. Wow. Okay, so, meanings are hammered out. So the kids need to know what’s respect. My kids have a great sense of humor, but sometimes, it’s disrespectful humor, and I’ll have to correct ’em. And it’s confusing, right? That was okay, but this isn’t okay? Yeah, ’cause that’s how we define respect in this house, okay? So all of you with every single person, every person, you are creating meanings. By the way, talk about
the democratic process in the United States,
we’re creating meanings in this country, aren’t we? And sometimes, these meanings
change radically, right? What constitutes being a
human being in this country? At one time, we take it for granted, but the Dred Scott case was determining with an African American
man, is he fully human? I mean, we look at those
kind of things and we think, in our country, we did that kind of stuff? Yeah. And the Supreme Court had to rule on it. In our country, when it comes to gender, ladies, when did you get the
right to vote in this country? When did you get the right to vote? 1920, you got the right
to vote in this country. Don’t you find that just like amazing? Today, we have some of
the most powerful people in American politics are
women, and I personally believe if Hillary Clinton would have
won the democratic nomination, we would have had the
first female president. So, look how far we’ve come in defining what is
appropriate for a woman. So as a country, we’re
hammering out these meanings just as much as couples
are hammering it out and you and your roommate
are hammering it out. Meanings is the heart of our
definition of communication. It’s what ties everything back together. How do you know how your
meanings are gonna be interpreted in a person’s system of meaning? What do certain symbols mean? How do we create these symbols culturally, as well as interpersonally? And how do we interpret
each other’s actions? It’s a pretty complicated process for us to communicate with each other. So, thoughts, questions, comments, as you think that over? Yeah.>>Student: In terms of process, can you interchange that with context?>>Yes, context is a huge part of process. And the context changes over time as well. My communication with my
mother is radically different today than it was when I
was living under her roof. Probably many of you have
noticed that going back home now. It’s a little bit of a different ballgame now that you’re in college. So, a huge part of process
is this ever-evolving context that kind of changes. And by the way, it’s
changed in our country over and over and over again. The context has changed, what was acceptable,
what was not acceptable. So as a country, we’re in this process of communication as well. Any other thoughts, questions? We used to think that
communication was just, the goal of it was me to
impart knowledge to you. That was the goal of communication, is I take my information, and I make sure that
you get my information. Today, we really subscribe
to something called the transactional view of
communication, which means yeah, I do wanna get
my information to you, but in the process of
me imparting it to you, my information is co-opted
by you, changed a little bit, and then sent back to
me, changed and altered. And this really is this
playful dialog that happens now that doesn’t mean that there’s no meaning in our communication, because
I can say to you a sentence, and you can say, oh,
when I hear that word, that’s how I interpret it. And I’ll go, oh, okay,
that might be valid, but that’s not how I’m using that word. So then we actually get to
negotiate with each other what we mean by these different things. And that’s the transactional view. It’s this continuous process
of me saying something, you interpreting it, and me
affirming your interpretation, and sometimes, the
interpretation changes between us as we communicate with each other. All right, makes sense? Any other comments about that? Okay, that’s part of our
communication theory part. We have to define what
we mean by communication, but now, equally, we have to define, what do we mean by theory? What constitutes a theory, if we’re gonna talk about
communication theories? So, let me define for
you what a theory is. And an interesting part of our
conversation is going to be, once you come up with
a communication theory, how do you evaluate it? Like Gottman’s idea of the
four horsemen of relational apocalypse, how do we
know it’s a good theory? How do you test a theory? Then remember, what’s going to happen is, as we talk about these theories, we’re gonna talk about
the foundations of theory, and when we talk about the foundations, one of ’em, the foundations,
is gonna be your view of truth. Do you see truth as being something that is socially constructed,
or do you believe truth is something that
exists outside of culture? Huge part of being a theorist
is to determine that question. At that point, we’re gonna take a break, and I’m gonna come in for a
week as your guest lecturer, and I’m going to introduce you to something called
social constructionism, and you’ll have a change to interact. It’ll be interesting. I won’t break character. And we’ll just have a fun
time, and you can push back and talk, and hopefully, you’ll see both the good and bad of
social constructionism, and there’s equally both good and bad. But let’s define theory. A theory offers an account
of what something is, how it works, what is
produces, or causes to happen, and what should be the case. A theory offers an account of something, offers an account of what something is, how it should work, what
it should produce or cause to happen, and what should be
the case, based on my theory. This can be broken down in
a couple different ways, the four goals of a theory. The first goal of a
theory, these are goals, is description. The foundation of a theory
is this ability to describe, which is a process of using symbols to represent phenomena. Can’t write and talk at the same time. Phenomena. Before we can figure
out how something works, we first need to describe what it is. So let’s go back to John
Gottman for a second. The first thing in Gottman’s theory is he has to describe
what he’s talking about. Now, you need to understand
that John Gottman is a top-rate academic,
but wanted to make his work more popularized, so he enlisted
the help of an assistant and wrote a bunch of
really influential books. So when he talks about the four horsemen of a relational apocalypse, that’s kind of not necessarily
even his terminology. It’s kind of popularizing his thoughts. But the first thing Gottman
would wanna know is that, in describing his theory, remember, he’s talking about the four
horsemen of a relationship, that if any one of these are present, this couple’s heading towards divorce or will, in fact, get a divorce. First thing he needs to
do, describe what you mean by the four horsemen of
a relational apocalypse. And he would say, and this is a freebie as I illustrate theory, Gottman would say, there are four things that
if a couple does habitually, there’s headed towards divorce. One, criticism. Criticism is attacking
you instead of attacking or talking about what you’ve done, okay? Contempt is that you no longer have positive thoughts towards
this person, but you mentally have destructive thoughts
toward this person. Then we get defensiveness,
which he would say, if, every time I bring
up something to you, you get defensive, so I say to you, hey, would you mind cleaning the apartment? Well, well, you say I never clean? Well, I tell you what. You never help pay the bills. And you’re like, whoa, wait, I’m just telling you to help clean. Well, what, you don’t think I’m carrying my weight around here? Well, to be honest, you
don’t carry your weight. All I said was could you. Well, Gottman says, if the
other person’s response is always defensive, that couple
is headed towards divorce. Now, listen, one caveat to all this, if it’s habitually present. Can all of us be defensive
every once in a while? Sure. Gottman would say, absolutely. You can do any one of these once or twice, you know, whatever, but if it’s habitually, if it’s a pattern, this couple’s heading towards
a divorce, 90th percentile. Yeah.>>Student: How do you spell Gottman?>>Gottman? G-O-T-T-M-A-N, John Gottman. So, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and then he said the
most damaging of the four is something he calls stonewalling. Stonewalling is when you’re
talking to me about a topic, a conflict, I either will leave psychologically and
emotionally, the conversation, I just will stop engaging you, or physically, I literally
leave the conversation. I’ll walk out of the room. I’ll walk away. Gottman says that stonewalling
is the most damaging of the four horsemen, because
I’m no longer engaged. I don’t care. It’s like, what, you’re mad at me? Well, whoo, newsflash, you’re mad at me. Wow, I’m just not gonna
let it bother me anymore. So, Gottman will actually say,
if a couple is still arguing, I can save that couple. If they care enough to argue, I think I might be able to save them. If they don’t care enough to
argue, then we got trouble, ’cause I can’t get ’em
to even engage anymore. Remember, the opposite
of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Right? ‘Cause hate is a powerful emotion you can actually work with. Indifference is like, I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I’m done. I’m done with the marriage. Okay? So, first thing Gottman
has to do in any theory is he really has to describe. Now, when you read academic articles, this is the part of it that just makes you roll your eyes in the
back of your head, right? ‘Cause they define everything, right? So Gottman says, my four
horsemen, first, criticism. Stop. John Gottman, what do
you mean by criticism? Okay, by criticism, I mean this. Boom. Okay, thank you. Now, contempt. Stop. What do you mean by contempt? Well, by contempt I mean. So when you listen to academics talk, it’s actually really important. So we’re talking about a
certain theological issue or an academic issue and somebody says, well, I don’t necessarily
hold to a reformed view of, and it’s like, okay, stop. For a second, can you, what
do you mean by reformed? I know what I mean by that. I’m just curious what you mean by that. Oh, okay. By that, I mean this. Okay, thanks. That’s really helpful for me to know how you’re using those concepts. Okay? So, I believe in a
democratic form of, okay, stop for a second. Can you define what
you mean by democratic? Okay, by democratic I mean. So, with academics, we
tend to think, good night, get on with it! But in order to get on with it, we have to have a common
vocabulary that we’re working with. So every journal article you’ll read, the first part of it is, I’m defining what I mean
by all these things. This is why I, so, the
first part of any theory is, tell me what you’re trying to describe. If you can’t describe it, you
don’t have a theory going yet. So description is incredibly important. What’s your theory wanting to describe? Now, let me give you another one. Couples living together. Generally speaking,
communication theorists and marital therapists will
say, generally speaking, that living together is not a good idea, that one of the reasons
the divorce rate is so high is that couples really do live
together in large numbers. So, our theory would
be that living together could be detrimental to the
long-term health of a marriage. Now, by the way, we again
could put our heads together and come up with 10 reasons why
we think that might be true, but if we’ve not described
it or sought to prove it, then we just have opinion running rampant. So, the first thing we
would have to do is to say, we want to, in our hypothesis,
here’s what we’re gonna say. We’re gonna say that in some situations, living together can be detrimental. Okay, what do you mean, living together? I mean a couple that moves in together, they’re sharing income, they’re sharing, so, define what you mean by. Do you mean staying on the weekends? No, no, no, no, more than that. Okay, great. So by living together, you mean what? Okay, a couple who’s been together. For how long? Oh, okay, yeah. Are you talking about a
couple that lives together for a month or two, and then gets married? Same effect? No, no, no, no, not, no,
I mean by living together. So we’re gonna hammer
that out forever, okay? Just to, what do you mean by these things? Once you describe it,
we can move on, okay? But you first have to describe everything you’re talking about. Make sense? Number two is explanation. The goal of a theory
is number two, explain. Explanation. It’s an effort to clarify
how and why something works. Explanation. It’s an effort to clarify
how and why something works. So, John Gottman, what’s so
bad about being defensive? What’s so bad about criticism? What’s so bad about stonewalling, right? You picked four very specific things. You didn’t pick other things, right? You didn’t pick physical abuse. You didn’t pick, right? Why these four? And by the way, how do these
four make a relationship toxic? So, Gottman describes something he called the cycle of negativity. This is what he came up with. The cycle of negativity,
and this is what he says. Now, you don’t need to
write all this down. This is all wonderful added
bonus cuts from the DVD, okay? Here we go. The cycle of negativity is this. First starts when a couple moves from complaining to criticizing. Gottman says you have every right to complain in your relationship. Now, we listen to the word complain, and I tend to think
that’s kind of a negative. Gottman does not think
complaining is negative. Complaining is, you
have the freedom to say, this relationship isn’t
as I want it to be. Gottman would say, if you don’t even have the freedom to complain
in your relationship, what kind of relationship is that? So, complaining is okay. It’s okay to say, hey, when
I walk into the apartment at the end of a long day and
the place is kind of a mess, that kind of bothers me. And I would love for
you to help clean, okay? That’s complaining. Criticism is walk in and say, hey, I know you’re a slob, I know
you don’t care about this apartment, ’cause you really
only care about yourself, but I want you to help and do your share. That’s criticizing. ‘Cause what did I do? I attacked your character,
not your actions. Okay, so he says, first
starts when a couple moves from complaining to criticizing. From there, it’s a slow and
steady slide to contempt. Hey, if I walk into this
apartment and it’s always messy, and I look at you and I say, you really, it’s all about you, isn’t it? You just don’t care. You don’t care about us. You don’t care about this apartment. You don’t care. I may verbalize that,
or, Gottman would say, I may just start to think that, right? If I start to think about one of you, you’re not committed to this
class, you’re not engaged, you really don’t care about this class, and I stop having good
thoughts about you, guess what? Our relationship is in a lot of trouble as a professor-student, right? Then he goes, this feeling of contempt easily leads individuals to defensiveness. So, here’s what happens. You come home one day. You’re tired, and guess
what that roommate says? Hey, Tim, I kind of noticed
when you left for work today, you left some of your clothes out. Would you mind cleaning it up? You said that to me? You said that? I left a t-shirt and a sock. [class laughs] That’s what I did. You have half eaten pizzas
stuck to the walls of your room. [class laughs] And you talk about my t-shirt and a sock? Which, by the way, by implication, means the other sock is put away. [class laughs] That, coming from you, that is so rich. That’s a classic. Okay, that’s defensiveness, right? Was it okay for that roommate to complain? Absolutely, it was okay
for them to complain. But you’re like, oh, oh, oh. Then that leads to stonewalling. What does stonewalling mean? I don’t care. I don’t care. Let’s buy a goat. I don’t care. [class laughs] I don’t care. These dishes in the sink right
now, it’s a biology project. I don’t care. I don’t care. Well, hey, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about how we can clean. No, let’s not. Let’s not. Okay, do whatever you want, all right? I’m living in the Wild Kingdom. This is fun. ‘Cause by the way, when the
rent’s up, I’m outta here. That’s the only reason I
put up with you right now, is ’cause when the rent’s up, and we have to resign a lease, I’m done. I’m outta here. So do what you want. I don’t care. The more the merrier. [class laughs] I love fruit flies, okay? I don’t care anymore. So, Gottman says, that is what he calls the cycle of negativity. That’s why these four horsemen are so damaging in a marriage. I clarify what I mean by
the cycle of negativity, I actually give it a bit of a sequence, and then I say, this is
why it’s so devastating. See what he just did? One, I’m gonna describe my terms. By criticism, I mean this. By stonewalling, I mean this. By contempt, I mean this. But now, more importantly, let me show you what I call the cycle of negativity of how these four are so damaging. That’s explanation, okay? And we’re gonna stop right
here, ’cause we’ll continue with a theory, but understand,
the first two parts of every theory is, you
have to define your terms and then say, okay,
living together is bad. Why? Why is it bad? You have to theorize why it’s bad. Now, we haven’t even gotten to the point where we actually try to prove our theory. Right now, we’re just trying to articulate what the theory is. Okay, make sense? Okay, good. I will see you. Get your note cards going. Good job. I saw those note cards. Get those note cards going,
’cause you wanna study as we go. But we just got a
definition of communication. You wanna know all parts of it. We’re getting a definition of theory. Get all the parts and
the definition of theory. And then we’re gonna talk about how do you analyze a
theory at the very end. Okay? So, I will see you guys on Thursday. [upbeat instrumental music]>>Announcer: We hope
you enjoyed this message. Biola University offers a
variety of biblically-centered degree programs, ranging from business to ministry to the arts and sciences. Learn more at biola.edu.

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