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Introduction to a diploma paper

Emotions are “the glue” that connects people to one another. They are the foundation of your ability to understand yourself and relate to others. When you are aware and in control of your emotions, you can think clearly and creatively; manage stress and challenges; communicate well with others; and display trust, empathy, and confidence. Without any doubt, losing control of ones emotions will result in falling to confusion, isolation, and doubt. By learning to recognize, manage, and deal with the emotions, one will enjoy greater happiness and health, as well as better relationships. In this paper we shall confine our attention strictly to the roles and influences of feelings in communicational process; moreover, we shall also analyze the curious phenomena of feelings transmission and emotion contagion.
We shall now investigate in brief the phenomenon of communication. Recent studies state that communication between two people consists of transmitting and receiving. If both parties are performing both tasks effectively, there is good communication. However, this sounds very simple and obvious because in reality it is difficult for most people to achieve. Communication is even difficult when concerned only with intellectual or cognitive content─ explaining an idea or a theory, giving directions or instructions, delivering a message. Problems of vocabulary, colloquial expressions, semantic difficulties complicate transmitting. This makes reception more difficult; more to the point, even assuming efficient transmission; many people do not listen carefully enough to be efficient receivers anyway.
When people are personally involved, clear two-way communication is even more difficult because feelings and emotions are present. Most serious communication difficulties are due to feelings. Yet in personal interactions, feelings are the most important aspect of the communication. When people become deeply involved in a democratic relationship, communicating freely is very difficult. [4, p. 25]
To understand better the complexities of communication, let us look at the various levels on which communication may take place. There are at least four such levels:
1. Content, the factual material, the basic words themselves, or what one is talking about.
2. Feelings. I may be talking about how to build a sailboat, a painting, or anything. If the subject is very important, I will very likely be experiencing some feelings—enthusiasm, pleasure, disgust, or whatever—as Im transmitting. The feelings are a vital and important and I may not feel very important if these feelings are ignored or misunderstood.
3. Feelings about feelings. I may be talking about boat building, and feeling very enthusiastic, but I may also be embarrassed or ashamed of my enthusiasm. Or I may be angry with you, but also feel guilty or fearful about my anger. Feelings about feelings are an important aspect of communication and can create many problems in communication.
4. The fourth level pertains to the motivation involved, or what the transmitter is seeking. Why is s/he transmitting this message? What is the purpose, the reason, for her telling me this? What does the transmitter want, what is s/he up to, or seeking from me? I may be discussing boat building with you in an effort to impress you with my knowledge, or because I want to sell you something, or in an effort to get you to help me, or simply because you are my friend, and I want to share my pleasure with you. [2, p. 58; 7, p. 124]
We shall now examine the issues of transmission and reception. In is generally accepted that everyone needs other people with whom to share themselves—their thoughts, ideas, feelings, experiences, problems, and needs. In order to share, they must transmit; everyone is a transmitter of some sort, good, bad, or indifferent. Efficient transmitters can share themselves, especially feelings, with other people freely and without static, distortion, or interference. Clear transmission facilitates clear reception.  Most importantly, clear reception of anothers transmission occurs when the receiver can restate the full message to the transmitters satisfaction. In radio communication the receiver will often respond with the phrase, "I read you loud and clear." Actually, this may or may not be the case. Transmitters may think their message clear, but they may not be communicating at all. They may be dealing with two different messages. This is true of much interpersonal communication, especially communicating feelings. The greatest difficulty is usually in the original reception.
The difficulty in receiving occurs when many people try to go beyond the mere reception of the message. They are quite aware that when they communicate to others they often are seeking some specific response—sympathy, love, advice, or agreement —that exceeds simple reception. They realize that others are seeking specific responses also. Thus, they try to interpret or anticipate the others demands and prepare their own responses accordingly. They feel that they must do more than simply understand or receive, but their efforts to go beyond this point disrupt their basic reception. Besides, receivers may complicate matters with their own problems. They may ignore, or be afraid of feelings to the point that they can only recognize or respond to content. Or they may be so concerned with making the right response or not letting themselves be manipulated, that they only attend to the transmitters motives. Many individuals are poor receivers because they dont receive others transmissions at all levels. The preoccupation with content and motives prevents their getting very close to other people because this preoccupation prevents them from making contact with others feelings. [5, p. 213, 7, p. 45]
Clear reception is difficult when people are transmitting messages in a variety of modes. Ways of transmitting can be condensed into two types: verbal and non-verbal. When people are together, there is always a great deal of non-verbal communication. When transmitters are unaware of non-verbal transmissions, verbal and non-verbal messages are contradictory, or when receivers ignore or misinterpret non-verbal signals, clarity of communication is lost. Also, interpersonal communication is a complex and difficult task. Transmitting and receiving are difficult; these difficulties are complicated when risk enters the picture. Risk occurs particularly when transmitters are transmitting to and about receivers. Communication becomes more dangerous and threatening. Whenever transmitting something that you are not comfortable with such as criticism, sexual attraction, love, anger, disgust, the task is more difficult. If you fears the receivers reactions, clear transmission are even harder. If receivers demonstrate that they are very threatened, things become even more difficult.
We shall continue by exploring the issue and the very nature of emotions. Let us consider the characters of babies who are bundles of emotion, experiencing intense feelings of fear, anger, sadness, and joy within their first eight weeks of life. As an infant, your emotions connected you to your primary caregiver in what was the first relationship of your life. Throughout life, emotions continue to serve this same purpose: connecting us to others. Undoubtedly, without emotions and an awareness and understanding of them, it is practically impossible to build or maintain strong, healthy relationships.
Whether one is having an argument with a spouse or dealing with colleagues at work, emotions have a profound impact on the communication process. Over 95% of communication is nonverbal and emotionally driven. It enables us to conclude that all our emotional responses affect our home and work relationships. Nonverbal emotional signals or cues, such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, intensity of speech, body posture, or hand gestures, communicate far more to others about what we are really thinking and feeling than our words. Very often people will say one thing but mean another, so emotionally driven nonverbal cues play a huge role in the way we communicate, both at home and at work. The way we react to these nonverbal cues affects how we understand other people, and just as importantly, how they understand us. We argue that people with emotional awareness have developed the capacity to recognize and understand their own emotions, they automatically find it easier to recognize and read nonverbal cues when communicating with others. This makes them more successful at work and in their home relationships. [2, p. 63]
“Emotions are contagious” wrote the Swiss psychoanalyst Gail Jung. His observation is now being borne out and given precision by scientific studies of the subtle interplay of moods as they are passed from person to person.  The new data depict moods as akin to social viruses, with some people having a natural ability to transmit them while others are more susceptible to contagion. And moods seem to perpetuate themselves by leading a person to do things that reinforce the feeling, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The transmission of moods seems to occur instantaneously and unconsciously as one person mimics, for example, the physical movement or another facial expression. It also appears that a feeling of harmonious interaction between two people is achieved when they synchronize their moods, and this can be done by a series of precisely timed nods and other nonverbal cues.
We believe it is of a great importance to consider the issue of emotional contagion within the framework of our investigation. Emotional contagion is the tendency to catch and feel emotions that are similar to and influenced by those of others. One view developed by John Cacioppo of the underlying mechanism is that it represents a tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person and, consequently, to converge emotionally. A broader definition of the phenomenon was suggested by Sigal G. Barsade—«a process in which a person or group influences the emotions or behavior of another person or group through the conscious or unconscious induction of emotion states and behavioral attitudes». [3, p. 245]
“Emotions are contagious” wrote the Swiss psychoanalyst Gail Jung. His observation is now being borne out and given precision by scientific studies of the subtle interplay of moods as they are passed from person to person.  The new data depict moods as akin to social viruses, with some people having a natural ability to transmit them while others are more susceptible to contagion. And moods seem to perpetuate themselves by leading a person to do things that reinforce the feeling, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The transmission of moods seems to occur instantaneously and unconsciously as one person mimics, for example, the physical movement or another facial expression. It also appears that a feeling of harmonious interaction between two people is achieved when they synchronize their moods, and this can be done by a series of precisely timed nods and other nonverbal cues.
«Emotional contagion happens within milliseconds, so quick you cant control it, and so subtly that youre not really aware its going on» said Dr. Elaine Hatfield, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii who presented her findings at a meeting of the American Psychological Society in Washington, June 1991. The new understanding of who is more likely to pass along emotional contagion and who is more susceptible to picking up someone else s mood comes from psycho-physiological studies of how people express their emotions. The data distinguished people by the degree to which their moods were freely expressed in their faces, gestures or in responses to the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary activities of the organs, like sweating or a jump in heart rate. [4, p. 156]
Unlike cognitive contagion, emotional contagion is less conscious and more automatic. It relies mainly on non-verbal communication, although it has been demonstrated that emotional contagion can, and does, occur via telecommunication. For example, people interacting through E-mails and "chats" are affected by the others emotions, without being able to perceive the non-verbal cues.
One view, proposed by Hatfield and colleagues, describes the emotional contagion process as a primitive, automatic and unconscious behavior. According to them, it takes place through a series of steps. When a receiver is interacting with a sender, he perceives the emotional expressions of the sender. The receiver automatically mimics those emotional expressions. Through the process of afferent feedback, these new expressions are translated into feeling the emotions the sender feels, thus leading to emotional convergence. Another view, emanating from social comparison theories, sees emotional contagion as demanding more cognitive effort and being more conscious. According to this view, people engage in social comparison to see if their emotional reaction is congruent with the persons around them. In this case, the recipient uses the emotion as a type of social information to understand how he or she should be feeling.[2, p. 12]
People respond differentially to positive and negative stimuli, and negative events tend to elicit stronger and quicker emotional, behavioral, and cognitive responses than neutral or positive events. Thus, unpleasant emotions are more likely to lead to mood contagion than are pleasant emotions. Another variable that needs to be taken into account is the energy level at which the emotion is displayed. As higher energy causes more attention to it, the prediction is that the same emotional valence (pleasant or unpleasant) expressed with high energy will lead to more contagion than if expressed with low energy.[2, p. 20]
A somewhat different explanation of the emotional contagion phenomenon is provided by evolutionary theorists: "Given that emotions function to help humans adapt to social situations it makes sense that one persons emotion would affect anothers. Just as herd animals would benefit from rapidly passing messages about risk and reward, emotional contagion seems to be adaptive for humans to function in groups. This system can enable a rapid communication of opportunity and risk, mediate a group interaction, and help humans attend to social rules and norms such as maintaining harmonious interaction with a powerful ally”.
Next, people perform below their potential, not because they have problems, but because people are not comfortable talking about the problems as they feel it is emotionally or politically risky. Unfortunately, while people are perfectly capable of discussing insignificant matters with a lot of patience and common sense, when it comes to crucial conversations, they become emotional in communication. This is attributed to the emotions that accompany the communication or conversation. It has been scientifically demonstrated that when emotions run strong, the part of the brain controlling higher reasoning shuts down, which is a terrible tragedy because that is when you need it the most.
The more emotionally expressive people are, the more apt they are to transmit their moods to someone they talk with, said Dr. John Cacciopo, a psychologist at Ohio State University. People who are easily affected by the moods of others, on the other hand, have especially forceful autonomic reactions when they unconsciously mimic someone who is highly expressive, he said. [6, p. 45]
The first reason why people fail at crucial conversations is simply because they lack the skills required to hold one. But even before one knows how to conduct oneself in such a conversation, it is important to realize that you are in the middle of one. The dead giveaways are that it typically would be a high-stakes issue, with conflicting opinions and emotions running high. Once people are aware that these are emotionally challenging, pivotal moments that define the quality of their lives and learn to recognise that they are in one, it would automatically help them approach the conversation in a different manner, and control emotions in communication. To continue, while most conversations start out in a fairly harmless manner, it is often possible to pinpoint a particular remark that turns it hostile. Even making a mental note that the tone of the conversation has changed and accordingly paying more attention to our responses can affect the outcome. When confronted with a tricky situation, most people tend to get defensive and blow up. If they are in a position of power or simply go silent because they feel that they are not being respected. This is the biggest mistake people make — reacting with silence or violence.
To continue, controlling emotions in communication is necessary for finding a Mutual Purpose that you both share, like achieving a certain business objective, and let the other person know that you respect their point of view. One of the areas where most people tend to fare poorly is when it comes to decision making. Most decisions are reached in one of four ways: by command, consensus, consultation and vote. As a result, if people are asked for their opinion and the final decision does not reflect this, they tend to feel manipulated and are unlikely to state their viewpoint the next time around. To avoid this it should first be made clear how the final decision will be taken, so that the rest of the team also knows what to expect from it.
It is in place here to provide a short summary of our research. We have proved that emotions in communication play vital role in effective conversations in life, because people need to realise just how many different results in their life — the quality of their relationship with their spouse, friends, coworkers, and an organisations performance — depend on peoples ability to talk to each other. [3, p. 78, 6, p. 52]
This approach has long been used by actors who evoke emotions by riddling times when they felt a particular way and purposely repeat expressions and gestures from that moment. An ability to synchronize moods with another person appears to be crucial to smooth interaction. “It determines if your interactions are effective or not” said Dr. Cacciopo. “If youre poor at both sending and receiving moods, youll be likely to have problems in your relationships”. Just how awkward or comfortable people feel together depends to a large extent or how tightly orchestrated their physical movements are as they talk, according to studies by Dr. Frank Beniien, a psychologist at Oregon Slate University. His work focuses on the nonverbal markers that punctuate an interaction, like whether one person nods on cue at the precise moment the other makes a conversational point, or whether people shift in their chairs simultaneously or rock at the same rhythm. “The degree to which peoples movements seem orchestrated determines how much emotional rapport they will feel” Dr. Hernieri said. “When people arc in sync, its like watching a long series of volleys in tennis, with one persons movements precisely linked in timing to the others” In one study, pairs of volunteers spent 10 minutes living to teach the other a set of made-up words and their definitions. Analysis of videotapes of their interaction found that those pairs whose movements were in greatest synchrony also felt the most emotional rapport with each other. “Even if the final mood was something negative, like being bored, if both partners felt the same way there was greater synchrony in their movements”, said Dr. Hernieri.
    Our relationships with most of the people we contact in the  course of a lifetime will be transitory and will not amount to much.  At rimes, however for one reason or another we find that our interchanges continue, and then it becomes quite important to be able  to determine what the person with whom we are communicating  is feeling. At that point, it is just as necessary for us to understand  the world of the other person as it is for us to understand our- selves. We need to realize that other people are as easily able to  experience happiness, sadness, anger, fear, or surprise as we are,  and indeed, that the feelings we express toward another person are  likely to be reciprocated.  
    By themselves or inherently, feelings are neither good nor  bad. Feelings as such do not disrupt relationships, build walls or  add problems to your life. Rather, it is what you think and how  you act when experiencing feelings that can affect a relationship  for better or worse. For example, anger and fear are not necessarily  harmful. As Izard notes, “Anger is sometimes positively correlated  with survival, and more often with the defense and maintenance of  personal integrity and the correction of social injustice”. Fear may  also be associated with survival and at times serves to help us reg- ulate destructive aggressive urges. Thus, it is not any emotion it- self that is an issue but how you deal with the emotion and the  effect it has on von and on those who are important to you.
Works Cited
1.    Barnhart, Sara A. Introduction to interpersonal communication. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976
2.     Clampitt, P. Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc, 2005.
3.    Duhe, S. Public Relations and the Path to Innovation: Are Complex Environments Good for Business?: Public Relations Society of America, 2008.
4.    Grunig, J. E., & Hunt, T. Managing public relations. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1984.
5.    Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Rapson, R. L. Emotional contagion. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
6.    McNamara, C. Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision. Minneapolis, MN: Authenticity Consulting, LLC, 2008.
7.    Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1986.

Дата публікації: 27.05.2011
Прочитано: 2402 разів