2: Allness

Course Home | 1: What is GS? | 2: Allness | 3: Bypassing | 4: Linguistic Relativity | 5: Symbol Rulers | 6: Review and Reflection


This course was developed and presented on the Canvas Network by Steve Stockdale, Mary Lahman, and Greg Thompson. It is reproduced here under terms of the Creative Commons Share Alike License as published on Canvas Network from 13 January – 24 February 2014.


Module Map

AandA-border-350.jpgIn Module 1 we addressed the question, “What is General Semantics?” During the next two weeks, we will focus on applying what we learned about GS to produce more effective language behaviors.

Mary will lead this module based on excerpts from her PDF textbook, Awareness and Action. These excerpts can be read within the Canvas pages so it’s not necessary to download the PDF textbook. Because minor changes have been made to accommodate the online format and module numbering, we prefer and recommend you read the pages from within Canvas to complete the assignments. But you are welcome to download and read the complete Awareness and Action textbook.

Introduction

As a communication studies professor who is also a parent, I often advise my children, “Change your perception and you change your world.” As a researcher with interests in general semantics and appreciative inquiry—a method for organizational change that involves stakeholders focusing on what is going well—I recently updated my advice to include, “Words create worlds so choose wisely” (Whitney & Trosten-Bloom, 2010, p. 52). Regardless of the contexts in which we find ourselves, we might communicate more effectively if we explore our daily language behavior. A general semantics methodology provides the opportunity to do so.

I first learned about general semantics in a 1982 Language and Thought class taught by Paul Keller at Manchester. Professor Keller studied general semantics with Irving Lee at Northwestern University. Since 1996, I have taught a number of courses using books by William Haney (1992), Susan and Bruce Kodish (2001), and Steve Stockdale (2009a). I credit these authors for the various sections of Awareness and Action:

  1. Stockdale (2009a) outlined a “structured system of formulations” to explain general semantics, and I address two of its premises, “scientific orientation” and “time-binding,” in Chapter 1, leaving “abstraction,” “nonverbal awareness,” and “verbal awareness” for Chapter 2.
  2. Kodish and Kodish (2001) operationalized “nonverbal awareness” with student-friendly exercises that I include in Chapter 2.
  3. Haney (1992) explained “contributing factors” and “correctives” for patterns of miscommunication that occur when we are not aware of the abstraction process. I introduce several of these patterns in the following four chapters: Allness, Inference—Observation Confusion, Bypassing, and Differentiation Failures. For each pattern, I include case studies developed by former students.

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In short, Awareness and Action shows how general semantics can be used as a systematic inquiry into language behavior, followed by an application of these formulations. I use case studies to engage readers in all four phases of Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning cycle:

  1. When discussing the abstractions of characters in the cases, we work with accommodative knowledge: the “transformation of the intuitive aspects of experience through active experimentation.”
  2. When applying the contributing factors needed to address characters’ faulty language behaviors, we develop divergent knowledge: the “transformation of the intuitive aspects of the experience through reflection.”
  3. When working together to evaluate how one corrective is better than another for each character in a case, we acquire assimilative knowledge by “deciding on the best solution.”
  4. When role playing a case with appropriate correctives for each character to address faulty language behaviors, we create convergent knowledge by presenting “an implementation plan”  (as cited in Kreber, 2001, p. 224).

General semantics is not just a theory but a practical approach to delay the way that humans automatically respond: it is something we must do. The case studies approach ensures that we practice applying the formulations, taking action with our newfound awareness of faulty language behavior.

Module Learning Objectives

After successfully completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Identify the GS premise that explains allness.
  •  Explain the contributing factors to allness.
  • Use the structural differential to explain why we neglect to distinguish between a group and individuals within the group.
  • Identify the correctives needed to combat allness.
  • Explain why we are closed to new and different ideas as we grow older.

Module Activities

This week we will learn how the GS principle of allness applies to our language behaviors. You will:

  1. Read the excerpt from Chapter 3: Allness of Awareness and Action.
  2. Analyze character behaviors from a sample Case Study (Case 3.1).
  3. Participate in a Discussion related to allness.
  4. Choose one other Case Study for further analysis (from Cases 3.2, 3.3, or 3.4).
  5. Complete the module quiz.

ALLNESS

Discovering It is not Possible to Know Everything about Anything

Allness occurs because we forget that we are abstracting, overlooking the premise that “a map cannot cover all of its territory, so any map is only a part of the territory.” Haney (1992) advocated for an awareness of abstraction to combat allness.

Use the following questions to guide your reading of the material below (excerpted from Chapter 3 of Allness in Awareness and Action, pp. 21-25).

  1. Compare and contrast allness and abstraction.
  2. Why don’t we remember that others abstract different details than we do?
  3. Use the structural differential to explain how it is possible to neglect to to distinguish between a group and individuals within the group.
  4. Why are we closed to new and different ideas as we grow older?

 

In Korzybski’s view, knowledge and uncertainty belong together . . . to live with both required courage—the courage to act despite imperfect knowledge and the courage to self-reflect and self-correct when needed, i.e., with frequency.   —Bruce Kodish (2011, p. 8)

DEFINITION: ALLNESS

When prompted to think of a “know-it-all,” we often envision other people and rarely see how our language may appear indisputable to others. We might agree with Haney (1992) that is it impossible to “know and say everything about something” or that what we say “includes all that is important about the subject” (p. 321), but our language choices often include words of certainty, tones of finality, and absolutes (e.g., always, never, all, and none).

Haney (1992) named this pattern of miscommunication allness, defining it as follows: The attitude of those who are unaware that they are abstracting and thus assume that what they say or know is absolute, definitive, complete, certain, all-inclusive, positive, final—and all there is (or at least all there is that is important or relevant) to say or know about the subject (p. 323).

Even though we are now aware of how “we inescapably abstract,” reducing people, places, and things to one-word descriptors, how many of us will remember to introduce family members with more than a job title? Will we distinguish colleagues from their political and religious affiliations? We easily forget that we might be “focusing-on-some-details-while-neglecting-the-rest,” thus making it easier to act as if what we know is “all that we really need to know” (Haney, 1992, p. 323).

Allness occurs because we forget the general semantics premise that “a map cannot cover all of its territory, so any map is only part of the territory.” Korzybski (2000) demonstrated this principle by asking students to tell “‘everything’ or ‘all’ about the object [an apple] in question” (p. 471). When he had collected all of the students’ responses and exhausted their patience, he would cut the apple into pieces, eventually using a magnifying glass to demonstrate that “they did not tell us ‘all’ about the apple” (p. 472). For instance, how many of us know that when cutting an apple in half around the middle, we will discover a “star” formed by the core and seeds? As the following contributing factors to allness demonstrate, even if we monitor our language choices, we often act as if what we are saying, writing, or thinking includes all that is important about a subject, person, and event at that moment. The correctives will help us to remember that our maps (words) do not account for all of the territory—that is, all that is going on in the empirical world.

You may want to refer back to the Consciousness of Abstracting-Evaluating page in Module 1 to review allness in the context of other behaviors to be aware of.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: ALLNESS

One of the contributing factors to allness is an unawareness of abstraction that results in an assumption that we have covered it all. Kodish and Kodish (2011) explained why this unawareness might happen: “The scientific ‘object’ is not the ‘object’ as you or we experience it but seems to consist of events, processes, changing relations at the level of the very small, smaller than we can view even with a microscope” (p. 60). For instance, we might remember learning about the submicroscopic proton, electrons, and quarks in a high school classroom, but we rarely remember that language is an abstraction of an event, which, itself, is an abstraction of all that is happening in this submicroscopic world. To communicate more effectively with others, we must be conscious of how we abstract to delay acting on limited details gathered by our nervous systems.

We also abstract different details than others do, leading us to assume that what we know is what others know. How many of us have been guilty of arguing a point (e.g., who is to blame for a missing item) only to find out later that we did not know important details? Haney (1992) contended that the consequence of engaging in such behavior is “the rigid drawing of lines and unintelligent, destructive conflict” (p. 325). Perhaps we need to listen for understanding first. Covey (2004) argued for “seeking first to understand, then to be understood when we listen with the intent to understand others” (p. 153). Listening to understand means identifying “how” we abstracted different details, not who is right and who is to blame.

Another contributing factor of allness occurs when we act on the assumption that “our experience with one or a few members holds for all” (Haney, 1992, p. 327). We evaluate a group based on limited interactions with individuals from that group. That assumption has particularly dangerous consequences when we assign stereotypes to people solely on the basis of the political party or religious community with which they associate. We often forget to distinguish between the group and the individuals within that group. How many of your friends and family members who are registered Republicans or Democrats identify with all of the policies advocated by Republican or Democratic candidates?

Haney (1992) suggested that as we age, we may become “closed to the new or different” (p. 329). Even though we often accuse parents and grandparents of being closed-minded, this indifference is not just a problem for older generations. I often ask students to compare and contrast the insatiable curiosity of a kindergartner with the quiet classroom demeanor of a college student. Students suggest that they have often censored curiosity because of concern for peer and instructor evaluations. This high self-monitoring might keep them from learning new ideas.

Furthermore, Haney (1992) explained why people might be more afraid of change as they age:

As we grow older, more and more of what we learn is actually relearning. To learn something new or especially something different may require we relinquish something we already hold—that we discard certain accepted assumptions and cherished beliefs. This can be an unpleasant, uncomfortable experience. But some people find it a distinctly threatening state of affairs. And when we are threatened we often resort to some defense mechanism or another. Allness can be particularly effective bastion at such times. (p.330)

This rationale reminds us that we can delay “automatic” evaluation when encountering non-life-threatening situations. We need courage to do so.

CORRECTIVES: ALLNESS

Because we know it is impossible not to abstract, Haney (1992) argued that the “antidote for allness is not the avoidance but the awareness of abstracting” (p. 335). What follows are his suggestions for how to become more fully aware of the abstraction process.

1. Develop a Genuine Humility

When we remember that abstraction inhibits our ability to cover everything, we find it easier to be humble. Haney (1992) defined humility as “a deep conviction that you can never know or say everything about anything” (p. 335). I like the humor he provided to help us remember these limits:

Bailiff: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Witness: Look, if I knew the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—I would be God! (p. 335)

When I first learned about general semantics, Professor Keller suggested that we should expect to be proven wrong; as Haney (1992) cited Disraeli, “To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great first step toward knowledge” (p. 335). Perhaps when we fully understand how little we really do know, we will be more curious and ask more clarifying questions.

2. Add (or at Least Silently Acknowledging) Etcetera

Korzybski (2000) named “etc.” as one of five extensional devices to achieve an extensional orientation. Haney (1992) summarized the use of etc. as follows: “When you see a period in my writing or hear one in my talking, please translate it as etcetera. It will remind both of us that I have not covered everything” (p. 337). Consequently, adding etc. to our thinking processes reminds us to be aware of abstraction. As rebuttals race through our minds, perhaps we can pause long enough to remember that there is more we might not know—the etcetera still waiting to be discovered.

Haney (1992) warned that, when talking, we should not “make a fetish of conspicuously ‘etcetering’ every statement” (p. 337), as doing so may lead others to evaluate us as lacking understanding or having adequate support for our conclusions. Adding etc. to our communication skill set is best tolerated, and perhaps most useful, when we apply it first to our thoughts. For example, we can think to ourselves, “There is more here than meets the eye,” using the familiar idiom to remind us to silently acknowledge the etcetera.

3. Ask Yourself, “Do I have an All-wall?”

In addition to realizing that abstraction inhibits our ability to cover everything, Haney (1992) proposed exploring how often we are closed to new and different ideas. For example, when we have a chance to hear a new perspective, do we listen carefully and then paraphrase what we hear? Many of us rarely paraphrase because we have been preparing rebuttals instead of listening. Morreale, Spitzberg, and Barge (2007) outlined various opportunities to withhold judgment during the three stages of the listening process:

  1. Receiving: postpone evaluation of the message
  2. Constructing meaning: set aside bias and prejudice
  3. Responding: clarify meaning by asking questions. (p. 149)

Monitoring how often we listen to new and differing viewpoints could help us to decide whether we have an “all-wall.” Similarly, asking a close friend and family member about how well we listen might provide invaluable insight. Who knows how much we will learn when we remember to postpone evaluation as we receive their messages and set aside bias when constructing meaning about our interactions.

SUMMARY

Allness occurs because we forget that we are abstracting, overlooking the premise that “a map cannot cover all of its territory, so any map is only part of the territory.” Because we are unaware that we abstract, we do not remember that others abstract different details than we do. Furthermore, we neglect to distinguish between a group and the individuals within the group, and we often are closed to new and different ideas as we grow older.

Haney (1992) advocated for an awareness of abstraction to combat allness. If we develop a genuine humility that we cannot possibly know everything about anything, we will silently add etc. to our thinking and avoid acting as if we have an all-wall. Furthermore, when we delay evaluations of messages as we listen to others and ask others questions to clarify meaning, we are using specific behaviors that demonstrate an understanding of the general semantics premise that “a map cannot cover all its territory, so any map is only part of the territory.”

REFLECTION AND ACTION

1. Document your reflections on these questions in your Personal Journal:

  • How might you teach the pitfalls of allness to a friend?
  • Compare and contrast allness and abstraction.
  • Which correctives for allness do you personally find most meaningful and relevant?

2. Throughout the week (and the duration of the course):

  • Discuss the topic of allness with a friend or family member. Observe the course of the conversation in terms of their questions and reactions, as well as your explanations, examples, etc.
  • Consciously apply at least one of the allness correctives during your regular day-to-day activities.

3. Share your insights and experiences with others in the course by participating in the Allness Review discussion.

 

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Corey Anton’s Corollaries

Korzybski (2000) proposed a map–territory analogy to encourage daily exploration of verbal “maps” (words), noting that these maps do not accurately describe what is happening in the “territory” (empirical world): “A map is not the territory it represents” (p. 58). He used a familiar relationship, maps and territories, so that we would remember when the territory (reality) changes, we need to update the map (language). More recently, Corey Anton (n.d.) proposed that we are better served with the premise, “there is no not territory” (p. 11), because the territory (reality) consists of many maps. He argued, “Once we recognize how all maps, as part of the territory, are the means by which one part selectively releases and appropriates another part at different levels of abstraction, we no longer need to postulate that ‘reality’ lies somehow ‘behind’ and/or ‘beyond’ our experiences and/or language” (Anton, p. 11–12).

In his second book, Science and Sanity, published in 1933, Korzybski (2000) proposed his formulations as a non-Aristotelian system that promoted a “complete and conscious elimination of identification” (p. xcvii). For Korzybski, a “non-Aristotelian” orientation meant illuminating the limitations of Aristotle’s “law of identity,” or the “is of identity” (Pula, 2000, p. 21–22). He argued that even though people, places and things have specific characteristics, which Aristotle labeled as identity, these characteristics are constantly changing and are incomplete representations of the empirical world.

For example, I am a professor, but if that is all you say about me then you are leaving out other important roles in my life—friend, wife, counselor, mother, church member, sister, and many more. This illustration provides evidence of Korzybski’s (2000) second premise of general semantics: “No map represents all of ‘its’ presumed territory” (p. xvii). Recognizing that each one of us plays many roles during a lifetime, we begin to understand how one or two language labels are a static representation of a dynamic reality. Anton (n.d.) updated this premise of Korzybski’s as well, “Any map is only part of the territory” (p.11).

In the introduction to the second edition of Science and Sanity, published in 1941, Korzybski further delineated general semantics as “a new extensional discipline which explains and trains us how to use our nervous systems most efficiently” (p. xxxviii). In other words, if nature is constantly changing—and we know it is when we see flowers bloom from barren ground in the spring—then people’s nervous systems detect, or abstract, only a small percentage of these changes. Korzybski (2000) created a diagram of this abstraction process, called the “structural differential” (p. 471), providing a visual reminder of how we leave out many characteristics when we sense objects and events. We leave out even more details when we use language to explain what we sense.

The structural differential visually demonstrates how we omit numerous characteristics of an event, or reality, and continue to use those inaccurate descriptions to make more inferences.  This diagram of the abstraction process depicts Korzybski’s (2000) third premise of general semantics: “Maps are self-reflexive” (p. xvii). In order to account for abstraction levels confusion within, as well as between levels, Anton (n.d.) reworked Korzybski’s third premise: “maps” is the word used to refer to parts of the territory becoming reflexive to other parts at different levels of abstraction (p. 11).  For instance, if I state that “I am angry that I got angry,” then I am making an inference about my behavior, confusing levels of abstraction and leaving out important characteristics about what angered me today. Consequently, the ability to make maps of maps (the self-reflexive nature of maps) when the original map is inaccurate, may confuse how we interpret events and mask what we share that with others. Unfortunately, if my reasons for getting angry today include being passed over for a promotion because I am too old, then important conversations about age discrimination may not take place.

In the 1948 preface to the third edition of Science and Sanity, Korzybski stressed the need to apply general semantics formulations, arguing that “when the methods of general semantics are applied, the results are usually beneficial, whether in law, medicine, business, etc.  . . . If they are not applied, but merely talked about, no results can be expected” (p. xxxi). Consequently, this course encourages action—applying language behavior correctives rooted in Anton’s (n.d.) new corollaries for general semantics premises:

  1. The map is not the territory, and there is no not territory.
  2. A map covers not all the territory, so any map is only part of the territory.
  3. Maps refer to parts of the territory becoming reflexive to other parts at different levels of abstraction. (p.11)

More Practice with the Structural Differential

sd-labels-240w.jpgTo demonstrate how our nervous systems limit perceptions of reality, Korzybski (2000) created a visual representation of the abstraction process—the structural differential. He proposed that this diagram could be used to explain semantic reactions, noting both intellectual and emotional responses of human beings during abstraction. Moreover, the structural differential explains how we think-feel-evaluate, leaving out characteristics as we move from the event (WIGO) to object level (our senses), and even more details as we use language in the descriptive and inference levels.

Because maps are self-reflexive, we can use language to talk about language, often confusing descriptive and inference levels.  Korzybski (2000) warned about this “false-to-fact ‘is’ of identity”: using an inaccurate map to make further inferences. Consequently, he advocated using of the structural differential to explain our experiences because we could involve several senses and our kinesthetic centers when we state, “this is not this,” engaging the ear, with the eye focused on the motion of the hands, indicating the big distance between WIGO and inferences.

Some people, however, seem to appreciate Stockdale’s (2009a) abstracting model (Figure 2). They find the nonverbal world easier to comprehend because of the five senses pictured and the phrase “what I sense is not what happened” (p. 29).  Additionally, students appreciate the explanation of the verbal levels: “what we describe is not what we sense” and “what it means is not what we describe” (p. 29).

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Structural Differential Worksheet

Use the following worksheet to analyze your abstraction process in a recent miscommunication with another person. The worksheet has key terms from Steve Stockdale’s “somebody cut me off” story, which you also read to complete the Abstracting-Evaluating discussion in Module 1.

Once you have completed the worksheet, explain your abstraction process to a friend. Remember that Korzybski proposed using the structural differential to explain abstracting would involve the whole body as one states, “this is not this,” engaging the ear, with the eye focused on the motion of the hands, indicating the big distance between the event, description, and inference levels.

Click to download a printable PDF version of the worksheet shown below.

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More Practice with Sensory Awareness

Kodish and Kodish (2011) proposed that nonverbal (sensory) awareness exercises help people explore how structures and meaning emerge as a function of their senses.

In addition to using the structural differential to explain recent miscommunication events with others, explore using Kodish and Kodish’s (2011) “sensory awareness” exercises to become more aware of the nonverbal world. For example, they suggest the following exercise to experience a world without words:

  • What are you doing right now? As you [hear] these words let yourself become aware of how you are sitting or lying down or standing . . .
  • How can you allow yourself to feel the support of what holds you up?
  • How much do you need to hold yourself up?
  • Where do you feel unnecessary tensions?
  • Do you feel tension in your jaw?
  • In your face?
  • Where do you feel ease?
  • How clearly do you feel yourself breathing?
  • Many events are occurring inside and outside your skin right now. Can you allow yourself nonverbally to experience these activities? When you focus unnecessarily on labeling and explaining, you may miss something important going on in and around you. (Kodish & Kodish, p. 105–106)

The following exercises (some of which are included below) help you focus on one sense at a time:

  • Day 1: Touch the cloth of your clothes. Notice the sensation in your finger, your hands. Allow the sensations to travel where they will. Move to a different part of your clothes. Notice any differences in sensations.
  • Day 2: Listen to whatever sounds come to you right now . . . Do you find yourself labeling what you hear? Listen again and this time if you begin to label sounds just notice that you are doing it and allow yourself to come back to the sound again.
  • Day 3: Choose something to look at. Without words, take in what comes to your eyes. Continue looking: what else come to you?
  • Day 4: Consider the sounds, sights, aromas around you as structures to explore. Pick an “object” such as a stone or a pencil. Examine it closely, silently, for several minutes. Use “all” of your senses: see, hear, touch, smell, taste, move it. How well can you do this without labeling or describing? (adapted from Kodish & Kodish, 2011, p. 106)

After completing these exercises, answer the following two questions:

1. What “structures” emerge as a function of this sense?

2. What “meanings” do you discern?

Reflecting about “structures” leads to an awareness of abstraction: recognizing that our senses limit what we know about WIGO. Discerning “meaning” reminds us that we can delay evaluation: revising meaning (maps) with more exploration of the “territory.”

Keep your answers from each exercise, noting progress, or lack thereof, toward experiencing the nonverbal world. Many of us in the United States struggle with such exercises because we have not been taught to be silent, let alone to find value in silence. However, these exercises encourage “semantic relaxation,” making us more aware of ourselves as “map makers” (Kodish & Kodish, 2011, p. 104).

Korzybski (2000) believed that because both “affective, or ‘emotional,’ responses and blood pressure are neurologically closely connected, [then]  it is fundamental for ‘emotional’ balance to have ‘normal’ blood pressure, and vice versa” (p. lix).  Much like the relaxation techniques you might have learned in a yoga or exercise class, Korzybski worked with students to relax tensions, to be “more open to their experiences, better able to take in and evaluate information” (as cited in Kodish & Kodish, 2011, p. 104).

In addition to the nonverbal awareness exercises focused on our five senses, Kodish and Kodish (2011) recommended the “means whereby” to focus on the “how” (p. 108) we move through the world.  I have students practice getting up and sitting down, and walking around a building, trying to focus on “how” they move. We find this nearly impossible to do, as our senses focus on the weather, others’ movements, and the terrains across which we traverse.

Ultimately, these experiential approaches help us practice what Korzybski meant by an extensional orientation: giving “priority to ‘facts’ or nonverbal happenings rather than verbal definitions and labels, and maintaining our consciousness of abstracting” (Kodish & Kodish, 2011, p. 98).

Nonverbal Awareness Exercises

Listen and Reflect

Answer the following in a journal or notebook after listening to and viewing the files below.

1. What “structures” emerge as a function of this sense? (Awareness of abstraction)

2. What “meanings” do you discern? (Delay evaluation)

Audio File 1

Audio File 2

Audio File 3 (with instructions on screen)

Audio-Visual File

This exercise is not just about watching “a sunset,” but it’s watching “the sun set” and becoming more aware not only of a visual scene, but a sense of how much change is possible in just 6 minutes.

All 5 Senses

Find an apple. Write down all of the characteristics of the apple. Push yourself to describe all of the characteristics you can observe. (The more you dislike the term the better according to Korzybski)

Cut into the apples and use a magnifying glass. Now write down all of the characteristics that were not previously observable.

Eat the apple. Use all of your senses: see, hear, touch, smell, & taste it.

Allness – Sample Case Analysis

Instructions

We can use hypothetical cases to study characters who are unaware of their allness behaviors. The cases that follow were developed by students who were familiar with the contributing factors of allness, and they created characters with such faulty language habits.

After reading the Allness Sample Case below, Phonathon, explore how Georgina and Chris were exhibiting allness behaviors: abstracting different details and unawareness of abstraction. You can find the contributing factors defined and explained in the second column of Table 2.1. Similarly, you can see how each character can use an allness corrective.

Allness Sample Case:  Phonathon

Georgina, a senior business major, started working as a supervisor for the college phonathon team at the beginning of fall semester. After being a team member for 2 years, she looked forward to her new role. Her duties included creating mailing labels, training new callers, and ensuring that experienced callers stay on task.

On her first day at work, Georgina’s boss, Chris, told her to train callers how to properly fill out the pledge cards. Alumni received these pledge cards after agreeing to donate. Georgina’s speech included directions to “always add an ID number” and “never turn in a pledge card without a note on the back.”  That night, she showed callers how to fill out a pledge card and asked them to start calling.

Alice, a new team member, worked that first Monday night. After hearing Georgina’s instructions, Alice promptly began calling. On the first pledge card, Alice felt confident that it was filled out correctly. Unfortunately, she forgot a vital section of the pledge card: the ID number. Alice continued this way for every pledge that she received that night. The next day, Chris had to locate every ID number for Alice’s pledge, and he was frustrated that he had to add this tedious task to his normal workload.

Confident that Wednesday evening would go better, Chris reminded Georgina to instruct callers about the correct way to complete pledge cards. That night, after Georgina gave her training speech, callers asked a number of questions.  Phil, a second-year team member, called Georgina over to ask questions about each pledge card; other experienced callers asked a number of questions as well. Consequently, the team members did not make many calls. The following day, Chris wondered if Georgina was having difficulty explaining the pledge-card procedure when he saw how few calls had been completed.

Thursday night was the end of the calling week for the team. When Georgina asked if there were any questions, no one raised a hand. She felt that Thursday night went smoothly because callers remained on task and did not ask any questions. She did not realize, however, that the room was full of new callers who were afraid to ask questions. When Chris saw the pledge cards the next day, he was livid, as they had even more missing ID numbers than on Monday night. He needed to get to the bottom of this right away and scheduled a meeting with Georgina for later that afternoon.

Character Analysis

The following format will help you identify, define, and explain contributing factors for each character. It can be used to define and explain how to demonstrate correctives. The following table illustrates how you might analyze the behaviors of Georgina and Chris in terms of contributing factors and correctives.

Table 2.1: Character Analysis for Sample Allness Case

Character Contributing Factor (define, explain) Correctives (demonstrate, define, explain)
Georgina Definition: Abstract different details — I assume that what I know is what you know.

Explanation: When Georgina uses always and never, she assumes that callers will then use IDs and include notes, like she does.Definition: Develop a genuine humility — I am aware that I omit details because of my nervous system.

Explanation: Georgina recognizes that she might leave out information, so she asks individuals to restate her directions and encourages them to ask questions.ChrisDefinition: Unawareness of abstraction—I have limited details due to my nervous system. 

Explanation: Chris is unaware that he has limited details about Georgina and the callers. Many things are happening outside the detection of his nervous system (e.g., callers not listening and cards not printed clearly).Definition: Adding ecetera—I will add an “etc.” when I hear or see a “period.”

Explanation: Chris recognizes that there is much to be discovered about phonathon activities, so he brainstorms with Georgina about other factors, the ecetera that may be affecting the callers (e.g., fatigue, long calls with alumni, and why IDs are needed).

 

 

Now it is your turn to analyze a character from another allness case. Choose a character from one of the cases found on the next page: Case 2.1: Exams; Case 2.2: Student IDs; and Case 2.3: Paperless policy.

 

Allness Case Assignment Instructions

Carefully read these three cases. Pay particular attention to the characters whose names are in bold. Following the third case is a list of six characters from the cases. From this list, click on the link for ONE character who will serve as the basis for your next assignment – to recognize contributing factors and offer corrective actions for that character’s allness behavior. 

Allness Case 2.1:  Exams

Sue walked into Professor Smith’s classroom looking like she just rolled out of bed. She moped over to her seat wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. Sue, a senior English major and good student, did not have a good morning. She stayed up late finishing a paper, overslept, and nearly missed Professor Smith’s Colonial History class that morning.

Similarly, Professor Smith could not contain his foul mood.  During his previous class, students whispered throughout the lecture and then asked questions about material that he just had covered.  Not only did they not pay attention to his lecture but they got angry when he handed back an examination. He did not feel like dealing with difficult students today, especially when they wanted to argue about the exams that he spent hours developing and grading. If the students just paid attention, they would not get bad grades, he thought to himself.

As he returned the exams, he explained, “If you feel you have a right answer and I marked it wrong, you may explain your answer to receive partial credit.”

Sue raised her hand because even though she only missed one question, she was sure that she had the right answer.  When Professor Smith called on her, she asked, “Could we discuss question 5?”

“Sure. How can I help?”

“The question is ‘What shape is the Earth?’ I answered that it is ‘flat’ and you marked it wrong.”

“That is the wrong answer.”

“To me, the question did not give enough detail, so I thought you wanted the answer from the colonist’s point of view because this is a Colonial History class.”

“I provided feedback about why you missed points.  Please read those comments and come see me during office hours.”

Having already read the feedback, Sue was angry that they could not finish their discussion.  She slammed her paper down and stormed out of the room.

Later that day, Sue had another class where the professor returned exams and asked if anyone had questions regarding exam scores.  Sue had a question, but remembering how Professor Smith had embarrassed her the class period before, she decided not to ask it.  She returned her exam and decided that she needed to go for a run immediately following class as running always helped her feel less stressed.

 

Allness Case 2.2: Student IDs

It was 1:00 am on a crisp fall morning. Nearly 20 students were studying in a library computer lab when Officer Jones, a new campus security officer, was finishing his late night rounds. He first approached a group of four students who were working on a project for their small group communication class; he requested that the students present their university IDs. He knew that the student handbook stated that students should have their university IDs with them at all times, so he was sure his checking for IDs would be no problem.

“I need to see each person’s ID, please” Officer Jones said calmly.

“Excuse me?” Shane asked. “I have gone to this school for 4 years, and I have never had to show my ID in a computer lab.”

“I’m sorry,” Officer Jones explained. “I’m going to need to see your ID, or I will have to escort you from the premises.”

“Let’s just listen to him,” said Jessica, a freshman, who nervously tried to convince the others to obey the request. She had heard a lot of stories about how campus security was very strict when enforcing the rules, even going so far as to escort students off campus in handcuffs.

“I don’t understand this!” exclaimed Eli, a sophomore international student. “Why do campus employees think that they have the right to take away student privileges?” Eli had a “run-in” with the registrar’s office earlier that day. They told him that it would take an extra year for him to finish his degree because he was missing several requirements.

“This policy is clearly stated in the student handbook. Please get your IDs out now,” Officer Jones said. He was tired of the students disrespecting his authority. Earlier in the week, he and the other security officers had to endure criticism from students who had been drinking at a party. Because another officer had just quit, Officer Jones had to pick up extra shifts around the campus, so he knew that his reputation was growing as the “new guy.”

“I live off campus, so I don’t have my ID. I have not had a reason to carry it,” Molly, a junior student, explained. “It’s really late and we are just trying to finish our project. Can’t you let it go this one time?”

“I am afraid not,” Officer Jones stated. He was tired of students disobeying the rules, so he sounded annoyed. “Those of you who cannot show me your ID need to exit the library now. If you would read the student handbook, this would not be such an ordeal.”

“I hate that students can’t get anything done without adult interference!” Eli protested angrily.

“Let’s all leave,” Jessica stammered. “I will finish the project from my room and e-mail it you.”

Shane rolled his eyes and muttered, “As a senior, I need to be in the library late to finish my senior projects. This seems unfair because we are not bothering anyone.”

“I’ll remember my ID the next time,” Molly apologized as the three of them left the computer lab.

Officer Jones watched as the students exited the lab, and scanned the room for a friendly face to begin the next ID check.

 

Allness Case 2.3: Paperless Policy

After surviving two difficult lectures, Amber made a beeline to the campus store where students retrieved packages because she had a package waiting for her.  As a college junior, she stills gets excited when there is a package waiting because it means that somebody cares. She walked up to the counter and smiled as she requested her package.

Agatha, an experienced employee, explained, “Did you read the e-mail we just sent? You cannot pick up your package until 11:00 am.”

“But I have class at 11:00, and its 10:50, so may I have the package a little early? We used to get packages whenever the campus store was open, so why did that that policy have to change?”

Agatha tried again, “You should have received an e-mail telling you this. Policies change.”

Beth, a new supervisor, overheard the conversation and intervened, “What seems to be the problem here?”

“I cannot get my package and I have class in 10 minutes!” exclaimed Amber.

“I told her the same thing that I tell all students: no one claims packages until 11:00,” Agatha emphasized, aggravated by college students who do not read e-mail.

Beth sensed the frustration and explained, “I created this paperless policy. Do you know how long it took us to create all those yellow slips of paper? Now we send you an e-mail in the morning and you retrieve your package at lunch time.”

Amber, clearly taken aback by how much trouble a mere package was causing, sadly thought to herself how much she will miss receiving the golden slips of paper in the mail, which reminded her of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie.  On a more practical note, she wished that the policy would not have to change because some students did not have time for lunch.  Unfortunately, she did not have time to discuss this matter any further today or she would be late to class.

Analysis Assignment

After understanding how to identify contributing factors and apply correctives as demonstrated in the Allness Sample Case Analysis, now it’s your turn to analyze a character.

Six of the characters from the three Allness cases are listed below. Select one of them by clicking on the name. You will then be taken to a discussion forum for that character. Then post your character analysis as a Reply. Your analysis should include:

  1. a contributing factor to the character’s allness behavior;
  2. an explanation as to how the character exhibited the contributing factor;
  3. a corrective action specific to that character;
  4. an explanation regarding how the character could use the corrective when interacting with other characters in the case.

Now select a character and proceed to the discussion for that character:

NOTE: ON THIS PAGE, DO NOT FOLLOW THE NEXT BUTTON. CLICK ON ONE OF THE SIX CHARACTER LINKS.

ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS – SUE

After understanding how to identify contributing factors and apply correctives as demonstrated in the Allness Sample Case Analysis, now it’s your turn to analyze a character. You have selected to analyze Sue.

Re-read the Exams case below, then post your character analysis of Sue as a Reply to this topic. Your analysis should include:

  1. a contributing factor to Sue’s allness behavior;
  2. an explanation as to how Sue exhibited the contributing factor;
  3. a corrective specific to Sue;
  4. an explanation regarding how Sue could use the corrective when interacting with other characters in the case.

The case is copied below for reference. Remember that you will not see others’ responses until you post yours.


Sue walked into Professor Smith’s classroom looking like she just rolled out of bed. She moped over to her seat wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. Sue, a senior English major and good student, did not have a good morning. She stayed up late finishing a paper, overslept, and nearly missed Professor Smith’s Colonial History class that morning.

Similarly, Professor Smith could not contain his foul mood.  During his previous class, students whispered throughout the lecture and then asked questions about material that he just had covered.  Not only did they not pay attention to his lecture but they got angry when he handed back an examination. He did not feel like dealing with difficult students today, especially when they wanted to argue about the exams that he spent hours developing and grading. If the students just paid attention, they would not get bad grades, he thought to himself.

As he returned the exams, he explained, “If you feel you have a right answer and I marked it wrong, you may explain your answer to receive partial credit.”

Sue raised her hand because even though she only missed one question, she was sure that she had the right answer.  When Professor Smith called on her, she asked, “Could we discuss question 5?”

“Sure. How can I help?”

“The question is ‘What shape is the Earth?’ I answered that it is ‘flat’ and you marked it wrong.”

“That is the wrong answer.”

“To me, the question did not give enough detail, so I thought you wanted the answer from the colonist’s point of view because this is a Colonial History class.”

“I provided feedback about why you missed points.  Please read those comments and come see me during office hours.”

Having already read the feedback, Sue was angry that they could not finish their discussion.  She slammed her paper down and stormed out of the room.

Later that day, Sue had another class where the professor returned exams and asked if anyone had questions regarding exam scores.  Sue had a question, but remembering how Professor Smith had embarrassed her the class period before, she decided not to ask it.  She returned her exam and decided that she needed to go for a run immediately following class as running always helped her feel less stressed.

Review and Reflection about Allness

Irving J. Lee from “Talking Sense” on Allness

 

Irving J. Lee from “Talking Sense” on All Wall

 

Optional Activities

  1. Allness Case Studies   from Chapter 11 of William Haney’s Communication and organizational behavior: Text and cases.
  2. Haney’s original book, Communication: patterns and incidents (offsite).
  3. Allness in Language and Politics   a student paper published in ETC: A Review of General Semantics.

Quiz Instructions

This quiz includes four True/False questions, two multiple choice, and four matching questions. Each answer is worth 5 points. Select the best response to each question.

There is no time limitation. You may take the quiz three times to improve your score, but note that the score for your latest attempt will be recorded.

1. The antidote for allness is to avoid abstraction. (True/False)

2. Allness is acting as if what we say includes all that is important about the subject. (True/False)

3. Allness occurs because we forget the General Semantics premise that “maps refer to the parts of the territory becoming reflexive to other parts at different levels of abstraction.” (True/False)

4. Allness is defined as the attitude of those who are unaware that they are abstracting and thus assume that what they say or know is absolute, definitive, complete, and certain. (True/False)

5. When adamantly disagreeing with her mother, Jill remembers her General Semantics training for each of the three stages of listening process. Which of the following is NOT one of the three stages?

  1. Receiving: postpone evaluation of the message
  2. Constructing meaning: set aside bias and prejudice
  3. Responding: clarify meaning by asking questions
  4. Evaluating: to argue for personal values

6. Which corrective to allness is defined as “remaining open”?

  1. ask if I have an “all-wall”
  2. develop a genuine humility
  3. get more data
  4. add etc.

7. Match the contributing factors for allness with the accurate definitions.

      A) I unconsciously assume that my experience with one or a few members holds for all.

 

      B) I have limited details due to my nervous system.

 

      C) I assume that my way is the correct way.

 

      D) I assume that what I know is what you know.

a. abstracting different details
b. closed to the new or different
c. evaluating a group
d. unawareness of abstraction

References

Anton, C. (n.d.). A thumbnail sketch of General Semantics. Unpublished manuscript.

Bois, J. S. (1978). The art of awareness (3rd ed.). Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown.

Bourland, D. D. (1989). To be or not to be: E-prime as a tool for critical thinking. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 46, 546–557.

Chisholm, F. P. (1945). Introductory lectures on general semantics. Lakeville, CT: Institute of General Semantics.

Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D., & Stavros, J. M. (2008). Appreciative inquiry handbook: For leaders of change, (2nd ed.). Bedford Heights, OH: Lakeshore.

Covey, S. R. (2004). The 8th habit: From effectiveness to greatness. New York, NY:FranklinCovey.

Elson, L. G. (2010). Paradise lost: A cross-contextual definition of the levels of abstraction. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Haney, W. V. (1992). Communication & interpersonal relations: Texts and cases (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Irwin.

Hayakawa, S. I., & Hayakawa, A.R. (1990). Language in thought and action (5th ed.). New York, NY: Harcourt.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Institute of General Semantics Seminar. (July 2002). Milwaukee, WI: Author.

Johnson, K. G. (2004). General semantics: An outline survey (3rd ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Institute of General Semantics.

Johnson, W. (1946). People in quandaries: The semantics of personal adjustment. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Kodish, B. (2011). Korzybski: A biography. Pasadena, CA: Extensional.

Kodish, S. P., & Kodish, B. I. (2011). Drive yourself sane: Using the uncommon sense of general semantics (3rd ed.). Pasadena, CA: Extensional.

Korzybski, A. (2000). Science and sanity: An introduction to non-Aristotelian systems and general semantics (5th ed.). Brooklyn, NY: Institute of General Semantics.

Kreber, C. (2001). Learning experientially through case studies? A conceptual approach. Teaching in Higher Education, 6, 217–228.

Lahman, M. P. (2011). Appreciative inquiry + general semantics ? IFD disease resistance. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 68, 395–401.

Lee, I. J. (1941). Language habits in human affairs: An introduction to General Semantics. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers.

Lutz, W. (1989). Doublespeak. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2011). Experiencing intercultural communication: An introduction (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Meiers, A. (1952). Avoiding the dangers of semantic adolescence. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 9, 273–277.

Morreale, S. P., Spitzberg, B. H., & Barge, J. K. (2007). Human communication: Motivation, knowledge, & skills (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Murphy, C. (1992, February). “To be” in their bonnets. The Atlantic Monthly, pp. 18–24.

Postman, N. (1976). Crazy talk, stupid talk. New York, NY: Random House.

Postman, N. (1996). The end of education: Redefining the value of school. New York, NY: Vintage.

Pula, R. P. (2000). A general semantics glossary: Pula’s guide for the perplexed. Concord, CA: International Society for General Semantics.

Stockdale, S. (2009a). A brief explanation of Korzybski’s structural differential. Retrieved from This is Not That website: http://www.thisisnotthat.com.

Stockdale, S. (2009b). Here’s something about General Semantics: A primer for making sense of your world. Retrieved from This is Not That website: http://www.thisisnotthat.com.

Whitney, D., & Trosten- Bloom, A. (2010). The power of appreciative inquiry: A practical guide to positive change (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Module Completion Checklist

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open-checkbox21.png 1.  Did you complete the reading about Allness?
open-checkbox21.png 2.  Did you complete the Reflection and Action activity at the bottom of the reading about Allness?
open-checkbox21.png 3.  Did you contribute to the Module 2 Discussion? (50 points)
open-checkbox21.png 4.  Did you contribute to one of the six case character discussions: Sue, Professor Smith, Officer Jones, Shane, Amber, or Agatha? (50 points)
open-checkbox21.png 5.  Did you view and reflect on the Irving J. Lee videos on allness?
open-checkbox21.png 6.  Did you successfully complete the Module 2 Quiz? (50 points)

 

Terrific!

You’re ready to move on to Module 3: Awareness and Action – Bypassing.

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