Culture: Communication:



Health Communication for Rigid Integration


by Professor Anna Rostomyan

Associate Professor, Yerevan State University

Yerevan, Armenia


In our everyday communication, we daily encounter very many different situations in which we consciously or subconsciously engage in talk. We interact with other via verbal and non-verbal communication means and convey our desired meanings, feelings, beliefs, desires, etc. In this process not only the speaker is involved, but also the listener: two agents, thus, who continually change roles, by means of encoding and decoding communicative clusters. The present survey looks for ways to make this interaction plausible and permanently healthy for the two actors not to get into harassments and difficult or ridiculous situations.


Communication is a consistent process where the involved agents try to interact with one another by means of verbal or non-verbal markers to express thoughts and to get into collaboration. Hence, if the interaction is not enveloped correctly to achieve the desired perlocutionary effect (Verschueren 1999), there occurs a splash and a firm ground for further unhealthy debates and discussions that lead to frustration, as well as other undesirable communication breakdowns.


In this connection, it is noteworthy that every message has some kind of emotive coloring that is also pertinent in the process of communication. In fact, we are all almost always experiencing some sort of emotion or feeling that is being reflected in our daily speech. Our emotional state varies along the day depending on what happens to us and on the stimuli that we perceive. However, we may not always be conscious of it; that is to say, we may not know or express with clarity which emotion we are experiencing in a given moment. The experience and expression of emotions comprise a routine, yet extraordinarily complex and influential facet of the human experience, particularly in the realm of interpersonal communication (Rostomyan 2012). 


In the book “Fundamental Neuroscience” the authors explain that because of the changes that occur around an individual, each sensory system has the task of providing a constantly updated representation of the external world. Accomplishing this task is not simple because it requires a close interaction between ascending or stimulus-driven mechanisms and descending or goal-directed mechanisms that are present at any communication level too. Altogether these mechanisms evoke sensations, give rise to perceptions, and activate stored memories to form the basis of conscious experience. In doing so, the descending mechanisms alter ascending inputs in ways that optimize perception how we regard our surrounding world and its actors (Squire, Berg, Bloom et al. 2008).


Emotions are factually physiological and psychological responses that influen­ce, perception, learning, and performance. The area of emotion is complex by the lack of general agreement on a basic definition of the nature of the concept. For example, some people take the position that emotion is an entirely different process from motivation (Murray 1964).


Some scientists as D. Goleman (2005) define emotion subjectively – in terms of the feeling experienced and expressed by the individual. Others see emotion as bodily changes and other caused gestures. Most of these people have em­phasized the reaction as the main component in emotion, but others concentrate on the perception of the situation that arouses the emotion or the effects of the emotion on ordinary verbal and non-verbal behavior. In philosophical thought up until nineteenth century, the problem of the relation of consciously experienced emotions and bodily changes was relatively simple.


We cling to the academic stance and position that emotions are not mere sensations, and taking the position of Goleman firmly state that they are phenomena that include rational elements. Actually when being convey, expressed and encoded in this way or another, they already become rationalized on the decoding level.


Furthermore, we firmly believe that sometimes emotions can be guided by the rational mind due to background knowledge – cultural, ethnic, social, historical information stored in one’s memory. Moreover, when making judgments on situations, evaluating events and individuals surrounding them, human beings are often guided by our previous experience. Therefore, it should be stressed that a person’s previous emotional experience can also greatly determine his/her present emotional state which, accordingly, may become verbalized in the process of communication (Paronyan & Rostomyan 2011).


This way or another, emotions are always present in communication on the surface or global level and hence become of paramount significance when discussing such a vast field as human communication. Communication itself can be one-sided or multifold. Communication, thus, can be described as one-way, 1 - to many; it’s indirect, non-reactive, unequal nods (i.e. mass audience + organizations), in Diagram 1 below.


Here the encoding and decoding process is quite simple: one actor encodes information for the others to decode accordingly. In case the audience interrupts the communication diagram, and unhealthy communication cause may arise, that only the speaker can solve. In case the latter does not manage to solve the dispute, other listeners may rise.



Diagram 1: Here we have simple societies’ communication stereotype where people mainly interact by means of face-to-face communication; two way communications: one the one hand the encoder (speaker), on the other hand the decoder (interpreter), it’s a 1-to-1 communication where the main interactants constantly change roles. In case only two actors at hand are involved: the communication is direct; it’s interactive, synchronous and reactive where the main actors at hand have equal nods.




Diagram 2: one-to-one communication process



In the next phase, we have modern societies where there is the problem of complexity of reach and distance. We can talk to people within far distances by means of technological appliances. For the information digestion and congestion we have the selection capacity of observing and reporting which can be described as qualitative and quantitative selections. Here communication breakthroughs and breakdowns are almost always visible where the actors at hand misinterpret the conveyed information that eventually leads to unhealthy causes that can only be solved after long discussions between the actors evolved.


In Diagram 3 a very complex communication stance is described where the conveyed information is processed through the internet and where many misinterpretations arise who what is meant and what is understood on the part of the decoders, taking into account their cultural, educational, emotional and many other backgrounds that have an effect on the convey message.


Here the context of situation also comes to the forefront. According to Malinowski who first coined the term “context of situation” in 1923: “Exactly as in the reality of spoken or written languages, a word without linguistic context is a mere figment and stands for nothing by itself, so in the reality of a spoken living tongue, the utterance has no meaning except in the context of situation”. (1923: 307) Indeed, language is always being applied in a multifaceted environment which includes a great variety of items in itself and bears a very complex background. When we code and decode information, we are simultaneously performing a number of activities connected with 3 main aspects which are presented in the Diagram 4 drawn below.


Here three layers have to be minutely discussed, those are the physical, the mental and the social worlds of the speaking partners. The physical world is the actor itself, its body with its separate body parts, surroundings, etc. The mental world is the inner world of the speaker that is not immediately visible and can be hard to detect just from the very first sight. It also undertakes within the process of communication and is very important in the decoding process as all the cultural, familial, emotional, and educational backgrounds are eventually encountered within the mental world of the speaker. And, last but not least, the social world of the speakers, that is all the other humans that are persistent in the life of the speaker, e.g. relatives, colleagues, friends, etc.


Within the process of communicative interaction there are three major levels that any piece of information passes: those are, 1) locutionary, 2) illocutionary, and 3) perlocutionary. At the locutionary level we have the message as it is uttered by the speaker. At the illocutionary level we have the message as it has been intended by the speaker, and at the perlocutionary level we have the effects of the message as it is.


Besides, any message is enveloped by the different surrounding worlds of the speaker and listener, thence, communication cannot be described as a one-sided process, but rather a multifold phenomenon.

Diagram 4     Contextual correlates of adaptability (Verschueren 1999: 76)


The diagram above well-illustrates that communication in itself is a multifold and a complex phenomenon that has to be studied from different angles. In case the flow of information is realized in this way by passing all the levels it will still be the same information as conveyed. For handling and having a healthy atmosphere, one of the most important issues is to realize the multifold aspects of the phenomenon and to understand the speaker’s intentions for speaking this or that. Even when not imagining the whole picture at hand, if the message passes all the stages, everything will shine from the positive aspect. Yet, in case there occurs a kind of a breakdown within one of the levels or all of them, there may be a case of unhealthy and unnatural communication.


To conclude with, all the diagrams and charts come to prove that communication is not an easy thing to handle or to discuss: here a number of factors come to interplay and have to be analyzed. In case everything goes smoothly within the schemes of the norms, we have health communication. Yet, in case some toxins emerge and evolve within the process communication becomes toxic and even dangerous for ones health, especially mental health of the speaker or listener or both of them. Therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid any toxic people or toxic situation for having healthy communications that lead to quick integration and firm health all-in-all.




1.     Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland: Bantam Books.

2.     Murray E.J. Motivation and Emotion. - New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964. - 118 p.

3.     Quandt, T. (2012). What’s Least of Trust in a Network Society? An Evolutionary Model and Critical Discussion of Trust and Societal Communication. In P. Golding, H. Sousa, L. van Zoonen (Eds.) European Journal of Communication, 27 (1). UK: Sage Publications Ltd.

4.     Rock, D. (2013). Handbook of NeuroLeadership. New York: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

5.     Rostomyan, A. (2012). The Vitality of Emotional Background Knowledge in Court, Polemos, 6(2), (281-292), Boston, Berlin: De Grutyer.

6.     Rostomyan (2018) Emotional Intelligence in Neuroleadership, Society of Global Issues and Social Management, New York.

7.     Scherer K.R. Vocal communication of emotion: a review of research paradigms // In Speech Communication, vol. 40, n.1-2, 2003. – P. 227-256.

8.     Squire, L.; & Berg, D.; Bloom, F.; du Lac, S., Ghosh, A.; Spitzer, N. (2008) Fundamental Neuroscience. Amsterdam: Academic Press, Elsevier.

9.     Verschueren, J. (1999). Understanding Pragmatics. Amsterdam: Hodder Education Publishers.



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