Table of contents
1.2 Literature Review
1.3 Main Research Questions
2. Research Methodology
2.2 Data Collection and Interpretation
3.1 Literature Review
3.2 Face to Face Interviews
There appears to be a relationship between the latest communications technology and how effectively young people communicate. It is a world-wide phenomenon. This research investigates how young people in the Czech Republic communicate today in an era of increased use of social media and mobile technology. The research was limited to the city of Olomouc. Results suggest that face to face communications by and amongst young people are diminishing fast at the expense of social media such as Facebook and What’s App and sending SMS text messages. This trend could have adverse affects in future on how well young and older people live and work together within their communities. The outcome of this research suggests that proactive steps should be taken now to educate young people in the appropriate use of mobile technology and social media. It would ensure that they retain their ability to communicate effectively not just with their peer groups but also with other age groups and with people from other cultures. Social \Psychology/Psychology needs to take a much more proactive role to address this issue so that the lives of people at all ages can be improved. The outcomes of this research should be of interest to other countries, too, as this phenomenon is not limited to the Czech Republic.
Keywords: Effective Communication, Communication Style, Attitude and Behaviour, Social Media, Mobile Technology
Young people across the world have been influenced how they communicate with others by advances in mobile technology and social media. Gone have the days when young people would sit around the table, for example, with their elders and listen and learn from the life experiences of older people. This is particularly true to say in countries and within local communities within these countries where the livelihood of people depends on how well people communicate. It appears that the modus communicandi (how people communicate) is of paramount importance to the quality of social lives of people and that it is highly desirable that young people retain or regain this ability to communicate effectively through the spoken word. Recent research by Fisher (2013) reports that new technology has changed people’s lives forever and that it is possible that this situation cannot be reversed. Young people today see it to be their right to have access to this new technology whenever and wherever they want it. Digital communication has grown at such a fast rate that most people are finding it impossible to catch up with it. Fisher and Santana Gonzalez (2014) conducted some research recently to ascertain how young people in Cuba communicate. They found some hard evidence that suggests that young people in Cuba have already started to communicate differently with their peers and elders compared to, for example, how they communicated some 10 or 15 years ago. An emerging country such as the Czech Republic has seen a significant increase in advanced technology in areas such as mobile telephony and social media.
How young people communicate in the Czech Republic has now become a major interest for psychologists/social psychologists. The communication style, for example, of how young people communicate has a major impact on their work and life balance and how they interact with other people. In turn, this impacts on the development of communities in rural and communal areas. Advances in mobile technology and the subsequent creation of associated social media such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp Messenger provide a plethora of opportunities for communicating with friends and family, for example, at the touch of a button rather than face to face. It is this apparent shift in how young people in the Czech Republic communicate that has captured the attention of social psychologists such as the researchers of this research whose aim is to improve the social lives of people. Therefore, the aim and objectives of this research are to investigate how young people in the Czech Republic communicate today and to gather new insights how young people might communicate in future. In addition, this research reports on the associated topics of what makes communications effective and what is meant by intercultural communication. According to Giant (2013), the widespread use of this new technology has had a major impact on how people communicate irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. Young people have grown up with this technology and have never experienced a life without it. It has become part of their daily lives. They can now communicate with anyone anywhere in the world almost instantly by using services such as SMS, E-mail, Skype or social media. Most households now have at least access to one computer (laptop, tablet or work station) with most young people owning a mobile or smart phone. There is unlimited access to information that can be shared with anyone immediately anywhere in the world (Rogers, 2010). In contrast, older people perhaps have developed a sense of caution not to trust technology blindly. They appear to rely heavily on how they used to communicate in their younger days such as face to face and having discussions within their local communities. Younger people do not have this balanced view. They were born and grew up in a world that was and is full of technological advances.
It appears that personalities of people are positively influenced by how people communicate in that:
- Communications are one road that lead to the formation of people’s personalities in social psychological terms
- They provide consistent emotional intelligence to individuals as well as groups of people
- Good communications are a trademark of active and positive participation that make a contribution to the quality outputs of fellow people
- Effective communications are educational
This research assessed associated psychological constructs such as attitude and behaviour. The researchers have adopted the following definitions within the context of this research:
“Attitude is a mental state of readiness, learned and organised through experience, exerting a specific influence on a person’s response to people, objects, and situations with which it is related. Attitudes are determinants of behaviour because they are linked to perception, personality and motivation” (Ivancevich and Matteson, 1992)
“Behaviour is a generic term covering acts, activities, responses, reactions, movements, processes and operations, in other words, any measurable response of an organism”(Reber, 1995)
“Competence refers to areas of work at which the person is competent, the so-called areas for competence. The dimensions of behaviour that underpin a competent performance are referred to as person-related” (Moore, Cheng and Dainty, 2002)
Attitudes and behaviours people can actually observe, alone or with others, and where they can see the effects the applications of these have on other people, must be of greater value than being able to only experience these in the mind (positivist research approach). The researchers applied a constructivist interpretivist approach within a phenomenological research paradigm so they can make a valid and reliable contribution to knowledge that is of value to both academics and practitioners. Fig. 1 is a diagrammatical illustration that shows the most important elements that have an influence on how young people in the Czech Republic communicate today. The researchers adopted the following definitions in the context of this research of what makes effective communications:
‘Effective application of psychologically and socially competent verbal and nonverbal abilities and skills in the area of interpersonal and professional contacts and relationships‘ (http://slovnik-cizich-slov.abz.cz/web.php/slovo/efektivni-komunikace).
‘A communication between human beings if effective when meanings have been transmitted and received as intended‘ (Maletzke, G. (1976)
The researchers’ own definitions of what makes a communication effective are as follows:
‘Effective communication is a process when messages are exchanged between a sender and a receiver (coder and decoder). This includes the sharing of information, attitudes, ideas and emotions through mutual feedback. Effective communications take place when two parties are able to exchange views and ideas in such a way that each party understands the intended meaning and acts in accordance with it. This can include but is not limited to persuasive, direct or pleasant language. The feedback that takes place between the two parties makes a contribution towards ensuring that, for example, tasks are carried out correctly and that real life conflicts are resolved satisfactorily’.
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Fig.1 Elements of Effective Communications
A review of contemporary literature is presented next, followed by the main research questions.
This forms the theoretical framework of this research and is followed by a presentation of the results from the literature review and face to face interviews with students of psychology/social psychology in Olomouc in the Czech Republic. The research methodology follows which includes data interpretation and analysis. The research results and a discussion of what the research found are presented next. This is concluded in the final section which includes this research’s limitations and suggestions for future research.
1.2 Literature Review
Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) argue that the principle of communication is a process. Everyone communicates in such as way that all parties understand each other as intended. Human beings communicate with each other as soon as they are born. This is essential for human well being and to develop social relationships and the personalities of human beings. Communication is an iterative process. It builds on previous experiences to shape future exchanges, thus building a communication process that is developed over time (Fig.2). According to Rogers and Steinfatt language is the fundamental building block to all effective communications. Human beings use language to think and to speak. The perceptions people hold are represented in their communications. Verbal communications appears to be more effective than non-verbal communications as it is possible to convey clearer and more exact meanings through the spoken word in line with cultural differences of the audience. It is much easier to control verbal communication than non-verbal communications. Observing someone’s body language and/or gesturing during communications tell the truth what the other party is really saying.
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Fig. 2 Communication Environment Model (adapted from Rogers et al., 1998, p. 15)
Hall (1966) claims that non-verbal communication is another language he refers to as a silent language. In contrast, critics suggest that non-verbal communication is a code that can be decoded and then reveal the true nature of people. Reality suggests otherwise. Rogers and Steinfatt report that non-verbal communication ‘is a field of multiple nuances which we have only begun to explore’ (p. 162). People, for example, look at the clothing and behaviour of people and then make decisions whether to start verbal communication with these people. Hall considers that non-verbal communication provides a more reliable basis for building trust. People cannot easily control their body language and gestures and this lack of control over their non-verbal communication is perceived to be a more reliable predictor of levels of trust people can have in others. Hall reports that the use of non-verbal symbols differs from culture to culture and that this is similar to languages. It is important to understand the non-verbal communication codes for each culture to ensure that effective communication can take place. Dinica (2014) proposes that the importance of body language should not be underestimated. Mimicking sometimes conveys a whole story. Appropriate application of body language such as Charlie Chaplin’s facial expressions makes words unnecessary. This explains why experienced people prefer to communicate face to face rather than by telephone. Telephone conversations block opportunities to observe the body language of the other person(s) and as such any such communication is incomplete and uncertain (Ury, 1994; Stanton, 1997). Pinto et al. (2012) conducted some research in the medical area to establish if patient-centred communication does lead to a positive therapeutic alliance. Their study concluded that active listening, asking questions and showing empathy strengthened the therapeutic alliance with patients. In addition, using appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication styles improved the effective communications with patients.
Thomson (1996) conducted some research to ascertain what makes a communication effective. It appears that people are not actively listening due to the fact that they get distracted by other things around them or not keeping a good eye contact with the person they are communicating with. If a communication is important, then people need to listen more actively to the person they wish to communicate with. To improve effective communication, Thomson suggests a number of actions people can take to improve their active listening skills. Table 1 is a summary of considerations why people do not listen, when people do need to listen and some steps of active listening. Thomson suggests ‘that the art of conversation is to be interested, not interesting’ (page 14). This includes maintaining regular and good eye contact with the other person or persons. Eye contact allows the communicator to check how others perceive what has just been said and the effect this has had on the other person or persons. A lack of eye contact suggests that the other person may not be genuinely interested in a conversation or that they are not telling the truth. People who understand body language are generally considered to be more effective communicators. Table 1 is a summary of some typical body gestures from everyday life.
Table 1 Body Language Gestures (Source: Thomson, 1996)
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