Competent Communication


This competency-based hybrid text links communication theory to everyday skills and integrates coverage of intercultural communication and ethical issues into every chapter, giving students the chance to put what they learn into practice.

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This competency-based hybrid text links communication theory to everyday skills and integrates coverage of intercultural communication and ethical issues into every chapter, giving students the chance to put what they learn into practice.

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Editorial Reviews

An introductory text on the basic concepts of communication, from one- on-one situations to public speaking. Among other topics, it covers language acquisition, nonverbal communication, developing listening skills, managing conflict in interpersonal relationships, interviewing techniques, communicating in small groups, preparing and delivering presentations, and understanding mass communications. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312040529
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995

Meet the Author

Dan O’Hair is dean of the University of Kentucky College of Communications and Information Studies. He is past Presidential Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma and past president of the National Communication Association. He is co-author or co-editor of fifteen communication texts and scholarly volumes and has published more than eighty research articles and chapters in dozens of communication, psychology and health journals and books. He is a frequent presenter at national and international communication conferences, is on the editorial boards of various journals and has served on numerous committees and task forces for regional and national communication associations.

Mary Wiemann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Santa Barbara City College. A longtime educator of beginning college students, she contributes a strong teaching perspective to this book. Mary’s book chapters, journal articles, student manuals, instructor manuals, and online instructional materials all reflect her commitment to making effective communication real and accessible for students. A recipient of awards for outstanding teaching, Mary is also a communication laboratory innovator and has directed classroom research projects in the community college setting. She is a frequent presenter at the National Communication Association convention where she has held a number of offices in the Human Communication and Technology Division.

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Table of Contents


We Must Communicate: The Functional Perspective

Expressing Affiliation

Achieving Goals

Influencing Others

How We Communicate

Characteristics of Communication

Communication is Symbolic

Communication Requires a Shared Code

Communication is Linked to Culture

Communication Need Not Be Intentional

Communication Occurs Through Various Channels

Communication is Transactional

Assessing Communicative Value

Communicating Competently

Competent Communication is Process-Oriented

Competent Communication is Appropriate and Effective

Appropriate Behavior

Effective Behavior

Competent Communication Involves Communication Skills

Modeling Communication

The Linear Model

The Interaction Model

The Competent Communication Model

The Communicators

The Relational Context

The Situational Context

The Cultural Context

The Study of Communication


Perception: Making Sense of Your World

Selecting Information

Schemas: Organizing Perceptions

The Functions of Schemas

Challenges with Schemas and Perception


Selective perception

Undue Influence

Attributions: Interpreting Your Perceptions

Perceiving the Self and Others in a Diverse World

The Cultural Context

Perceptual Barriers

Narrow Perspective

Stereotyping and Prejudice

Removing Perceptual Barriers

Cognition: Perceiving Ourselves

Self-Concept: Who You Think You Are

Self-Esteem: How You Feel About Yourself

Self-Efficacy:Assessing Your Own Abilities

Interpreting Events

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

Assessing Our Perceptions of Self




Behavior: Managing Our Identities



Managing the Self Online


The Nature of Language

Language is Symbolic

Words Have Multiple Meanings

Thought Informs Language

Language is Ruled by Grammar

Language is Bound by Context

The Functions of Language

Using Language to Influence Others

Using Language to Share Information

Using Language to Express Feelings

Using Language to Express Creativity

Using Language to Manage Conversations and Relationships

Problems with Language

Abstraction and Meaning

Situation and Meaning

The Limits of Labeling

The Dangers of Biased Language

Confusing Facts, Opinions and Inferences

Language in Context

The Relational Context

The Situational Context

Culture as Context

Culture, Words, and Thought

High- and Low-Context Cultures

Gender and Language

Geography and Language


Technology as Context


The Nature of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Behavior is Communicative

Nonverbal Communication is often Spontaneous and Unintentional

Nonverbal Communication is Ambiguous

Nonverbal Communication is More Believable than Verbal Communication

Functions of Nonverbal Communication

Reinforcing Verbal Messages

Substituting Verbal Messages

Contradicting Verbal Messages

Regulating Interactions

Creating Immediacy

Deceiving Others

Codes of Nonverbal Communication

Gestures and Body Movements

Facial Expressions

Eye Behavior


Physical Appearance

Space and Environment






Influences on Nonverbal Communication


Mediated Nonverbal Communication

The Situational Context


How We Listen

Listening is a Process

Personal Listening Preferences

Why We Listen

Meeting Listening Goals

Informational Listening

Critical Listening

Empathetic Listening

Appreciative Listening

The Value of Listening Well

Listening Helps Your Career

Effective Listening Saves Time and Money

Effective Listening Creates Opportunities

Effective Listening Strengthens Relationships

Listening Challenges

Environmental Factors

Hearing Challenges


Boredom and Overexcitement

Attitudes About Listening

Talking Seems More Powerful Than Listening

Overconfidence and Laziness

Listening Apprehension

Unethical Listening Behaviors

Defensive Listening

Selective Listening

Selfish Listening

Hurtful Listening


Listening in Context

The Relational and Situational Contexts

The Cultural Context

Technology as Context


Types of Interpersonal Relationships



Romantic Relationships

Online Relationships

Why We Form Relationships

Functions of Relationships



Achieving Goals

Interpersonal Attraction


Physical Attraction


Managing Relationship Dynamics

Costs and Rewards

Reducing Uncertainty

Monitoring Strategies

Proactive Strategies

Indirect Strategies

Dialectical Tensions




Self-Disclosure and Interpersonal Relationships

Social Penetration Theory

Communication Privacy Management

Strategic Topic Avoidance

Stages of a Relationship


The Exploratory Stage

The Intensification Stage

The Stable Stage

The Declining Stage

Uncertainty Events


Unmet Expectations

Relationship Repair

The Termination Stage



A> Understanding Conflict

Unproductive Conflict

Productive Conflict

Productive Conflict Fosters Healthy Debate

Productive Conflict Leads to Better Decision Making

Productive Conflict Spurs Relationship Growth

Conflict Triggers

Inaccurate Perceptions

Unbalanced Costs and Rewards

Incompatible Goals


Influences Affecting Conflict

Power Dynamics

Attitudes Toward Conflict

Communication Climate

Culture and Conflict

Communication Channel

Strategies for Managing Conflict

Escapist Strategies

Challenging Strategies

Cooperative Strategies

Focus on Issues

Debate and Argument

Considering Options and Alternatives

Consider the Importance of the Outcome

Reassure your Partner

Conflict Outcomes





Allocation of Power


Understanding Groups

Characteristics of Groups

Group Development






Group Size and Communication

Size and Complexity

Size and the Formation of Cliques and Coalitions

Group Size and Social Loafing

Group Networks

Types of Networks

Changing the Shape of a Network

Additional Factors Affecting Group Communication



Group Climate



Task Roles

Social Roles

Antigroup Roles

Role Conflict

Clarity of Goals

Groupthink and Conflict

Individual Differences

Cultural Factors

Communication Apprehension


Understanding Group Leadership

Five Sources of Power Shared Leadership

Leadership Styles





Competence and Ethics

Culture and LeadershipMasculine and Feminine Leadership Context and Power DistanceDecision Making in a GroupForces That Shape a Group’s Decisions

Cognitive ForcesPsychological ForcesSocial ForcesThe Problem-Solving Process

Identifying the problem

Analyzing the problem

Evaluating and choosing solutionsImplementing the solutionAssessing the resultsLeadership in Meetings

Planning Meetings Effectively

Justify the Meeting

Clarify the Purpose and the Participants

Set an Agenda

Managing Meetings Effectively

Arrive prepared

Keep the group focused

Summarize periodically

Keep an eye on the time

Manage Conflict

Follow up

Using Technology in Meetings

Evaluating Group Performance

Informational considerationsProcedural effectivenessInterpersonal performance


Approaches to Managing Organizations

Classical Management Approach

Human Relations Approach

Human Resources ApproachThe Systems ApproachCommunicating Organizational CultureOrganizational StorytellingLearning about Organizational Culture

Communication Contexts in OrganizationsSupervisor/Supervisee Relationships Mentor-Protégé Relationships

Peer Relationships in Organizations

Challenges Facing Today’s OrganizationsCommunication TechnologyGlobalizationWork/Life BalanceSexual HarassmenTCHAPTER 11: PREAPRING AND RESEARCHING PRESENTATIONS

The Power of Public Speaking

Clarifying The Purpose of Your Speech

Identifying the General Purpose of Your Speech

Informative Speeches

Persuasive Speeches

Special Occasion Speeches

Determining the Specific Purpose of Your Speech

Analyzing Your Audience

Determining Your Audience’s Expectations

Types of Audiences

Audience Demographics

Choosing Your Topic

Finding a Topic That Intrigues You

Brainstorming Your Topic

Narrowing Your Topic

Developing a Thesis Statement

Researching the Topic

Types of Information To Consider

Researching Supporting Material

Talk to People

Search the Literature

Make the Internet Work for You

Tools for Navigation

Finding the Right Words

Evaluating Support Material

Credible Sources

Up-to-Date Sources

Accurate Sources

Relevant Sources

Compelling Sources

Reliable Sources

Ethical Speaking: Taking Responsibility for Your Speech

Recognizing Plagiarism

Taking Accurate Notes

Speaking Ethically and Responsibly


Organizing Your Main Points

Identify Your Main Points

Utilize Your Main Points and Sub-Points

Arrange Your Points

Chronological Pattern

Topical Pattern

Spatial Pattern

Problem-Solution Pattern

Cause-Effect Pattern

Narrative Pattern

Motivated Sequence Pattern

Utilizing Your Research

Clear Definitions

Facts and Statistics

Meaningful Examples


Outlining Your Speech

Outlining Essentials

Styles of Outlines

Sentence Outlines

Phrase Outlines

Key-Word Outlines

From Working to Speaking Outline

Tying it All Together

Writing Introductions

Preview Your Main Points

Connect with Your Audience

Capture Your Audience’s Attention

Use Surprise

Tell a Story.

Start with a Quote

Ask a Question

Make them Laugh

Using Transitions


Internal Previews and Internal Summaries

Writing Your Conclusion

Signal the End

Summarize Your Points

Make an Impact

Quotes and Questions

A Final Story

Using Language That Works

Respect Your Audience

Keep It Simple

Tailor Language to Your Audience

Be Concise

Use Vivid Language

Use Language to Make a Lasting Impression



Comparisons: Similes and Metaphors


Controlling Your Nervousness

Understanding Communication Apprehension

Systematic Desensitization

Cognitive Restructuring

Building Your Confidence

Methods of Delivery

Speaking from Manuscript

Speaking from Memory

Speaking Spontaneously

Think on Your Feet

Listen to Others

Speaking Extemporaneously

Guidelines for Effective Delivery

Effective Vocal Delivery

Varying Your Pitch

Adjusting Your Volume and Speaking Rate

Using Pauses for Effect

Speaking Clearly and Precisely

Effective Visual Delivery

Using Effective Eye Behavior

Incorporating Facial Expressions and Gestures

Controlling Body Movements

Connecting with Your Audience

Expressing Emotion

Interacting with Your Audience

Effective Presentation Aids

The Function of Presentation Aids

When to Use Presentation Aids

Enhancing or Substituting Words

Displaying Facts and Data

The Pitfalls of Presentation Software

Practicing Your Speech

Remember Your Speaking Outline

Practice Using Presentation Aids

Simulate the Situation

Practice Your Delivery


The Goals of Informative Speaking

Meeting the Audience’s Informational Needs

Informing, Not Persuading

Speaking Appropriately and Ethically

Topics for Informative Presentations



Objects and Phenomenon





Plans and Policies

Approaches to Conveying Information





Clarifying Concepts

Explaining the Big Picture

Challenging Intuition

Guidelines for Informative Speeches

Create Information Hunger

Make Them Curious

Work Your Topic

Make It Easy

Choose a Clear Organization and Structure

Emphasize Important Points

Don’t Overwhelm Your Audience

Build on Prior Knowledge

Define Your Terms

Use Interesting and Appropriate Supporting Material

Utilize Appropriate Presentation Aids


The Goals of Persuasive Speaking

Developing a Persuasive Topic and Thesis

Propositions of Fact

Propositions of Value

Propositions of Policy

Persuading Your Audience

Understanding Your Audience’s Disposition

Understanding Your Audience’s Needs

Understanding What is Relevant to your Audience

Strategies for Persuasive Speaking

Classical Persuasive Appeals




Avoiding Logical Fallacies


Reduction to the Absurd

Red Herring

Personal Attacks

Begging the Question

Either-Or Fallacy

Appeal to Tradition

Slippery Slope

Organizing Patterns in Persuasive Speaking

Problem/Solution Pattern

Refutational Organizational Pattern

Comparative Advantage Pattern

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence


The Nature of Interviews

Types of Interviews

The Information-Gathering Interview

The Appraisal Interview

The Problem-Solving Interview

The Exit Interview

The Persuasive Interview

The Service-Oriented Interview

The Selection Interview

The Format of An Interview

The Opening

The Questions

Types of Questions

Question Impact

Question Sequence

The Conclusion

Understanding Roles and Responsibilities in Interviews

Roles and Responsibilities of the Interviewer

Identify Potential Barriers

Make the Interviewee Comfortable

Ask Ethical and Appropriate Questions

Listen and Respond Effectively

Roles and Responsibilites of the Interviewee

Clarify and Fulfill Personal Goals

Responsibly Prepare Yourself

Listen and Respond Effectively

Adapt to the Interviewer and Situation

The Job or Employment Interview

Getting the Interview

The Job Search

Prepare Your Materials

The Cover Letter

The Resume

Build Realistic Expectations

During the Interview

Making a Good First Impression

Anticipating Common Questions

Dealing with Difficult or Unethical Questions

Asking Questions of Your Own

Follow Up After the Interview

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