Text 3 Affective Communication
Affective communication is the process through which people express feelings about things, themselves, and others. Expressions of positive and negative feelings about places, objects, events, policies, and ideas are called opinions. Expressions of feelings about oneself are known as self-disclosures. Expression of both positive and negative feelings about others is vital to maintaining close relationships. Expressions of positive feelings let friends and loved ones know that they are valued. Expressions of negative feelings serve as a safety valve in a relationship. Affective communication is of major importance in the formation of self-concept—what one thinks of oneself. Through affective exchanges children form opinions about themselves. As students attend school, interactions with teachers and other students continue to influence their self-concepts. To a large extent, an individual is what people say he or she is. Students whoare praised by parents, teachers, and peers are likely to have a high self-concept. Students who are put down, or criticized, are likely to have a low self-concept. While self-concept is important in its own right, it takes on even greater importance in its influence on the academic success of students. Affective communication is of major importance throughout life. Employers value employees who get along well with other people, who take criticism well, and who are open and honest in their relationships with others. Affective communication is also important to a happy family life. Psychologists and family therapists stress the importance of open communication in the home. Members of supportive families feel free to talk about positive feelings of love, joy, and appreciation as well as negative feelings of anger, fear, and disappointment. The major ingredient in affective communication is empathy. Empathy is the ability to see the world from another's point of view—to share the joy or disappointment that another person feels. Empathy has two parts. Empathic people are sensitive to the emotional needs and feelings of others; they are skillful in reading verbal, paralinguistic, and nonverbal cues to feelings; and they sense that a friend is, for example, sad and invite the friend to share the negative feelings. Also, an empathic person responds to emotional needs and feelings in a manner found appropriate and rewarding by the other person. Affective communication skills are of central importance in certain careers. Psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, physicians, and nurses all need to see the world from the perspective of their patients. But affective communication skills are important to all other careers as well. Teachers, judges, police officers, and school principals are better at their jobs if they can empathize with others. Imaginative Communication Imaginative communication may be defined as the process through which invented situations are created and, in most cases, shared. Whenever people invent jokes or stories, speculate, daydream, or make believe, they are engaged in imaginative communication. People also engage in imaginative communication when they appreciate fictional messages found in books, magazines, newspapers, films, television dramas, plays, and conversations. Imaginative communication plays a major role in the lives of all people. Preschool children watch television cartoons and “read” picture books. They appreciate stories read to them by older children and adults. They play “house,” “store,” and “school” and create imaginary castles and mountain roads in their sandboxes. In elementary school, children encounter an increasing number of imaginative messages as they learn to read and explore literature. Through writing activities children create their own literature. Using the works of others as models, students create poems, stories, plays, and cartoons as they express their individual creativity. Creative dramatics and role-playing enable students to recreate history or understand present events. In their free time elementary and middle school students continue toenjoy television cartoons and dramatic programming and may develop an interest in sports programming. Secondary school students are introduced to important literary works and, in some schools, to quality films and media programs. In many high schools, however, students receive little encouragement to create imaginative messages of their own. Gifted students find a creative outlet in debating, drama, journalism, creative writing, and media activities. The vast majority ofstudents, though, are merely exposed to the imaginings of others through literature. In their free time secondary school students enjoy televised sports, drama, and cartoons. Their interest in music and films usually grows dramatically during this period of their lives. Adults are enthusiastic consumers of imaginative messages. It has been estimated that adults devote 40 percent of their free time to being entertained by television. Unfortunately, too few adults read books for pleasure, attend plays and concerts, or search for quality programs on television. Even fewer adults seek to express their imaginations by creating original messages. Unhappily, as creators of formal imaginative messages, most people tend to reach a peak during their childhood.
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