3: Bypassing

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 2 we discovered the contributing factors and correctives for allness. In Module 3, we will continue to apply what we have learned about General Semantics to build 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.

Module Learning Objectives

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

  • Identify the GS premise that explains bypassing.
  • Explain the contributing factors to bypassing.
  • Explain why we why would we make the assumption that words mean the same to us as they do to another.
  • Identify the correctives needed to combat bypassing.
  • Explain how we can become sensitive to the contexts in which others are using words.

Module Activities

This week we will learn how to use GS principles to avoid bypassing. You will:

  1. Complete the module reading, excerpt from Chapter 5, Bypassing, from Awareness and Action.
  2. Watch another Lee video in which he explains bypassing.
  3. Review basic aspects of verbal awareness.
  4. Watch an episode of the Twilight Zone series titled “Word Play.”
  5. Analyze character behaviors from a sample Case Study.
  6. Participate in a Discussion related to bypassing.
  7. Choose one other Case Study for further analysis (from Cases 3.1, 3.2, or 3.3).
  8. Complete the module quiz.

 

Chapter 5: Bypassing

Missing Each Other With the Words that We Choose

In communicating with others, we often focus on the message instead of the person with whom we are interacting. We focus on words because we believe meaning is in the word. We forget Korzybski’s premise that “a map is not the territory” (the word is not the thing). Moreover, we must learn specific language behaviors needed to address bypassing, because as Anton proposed, “there is no not territory.”

Use the following questions and slides to guide your reading (excerpted from Chapter 5 in Awareness and Action, pages 47-52) and viewing of the Twilight Zone episode entitled “Word Play,” all on this page.

  1. Why would we make the assumption that words mean the same to us as they do to another?
  2. How can we become sensitive to the contexts in which others are using words?
  3. Are there situations where doublespeak might be ethically defensible? Why?
  4. What did you learn from watching the Twilight Zone episode entitled “Word Play”?

 

It is precisely because each of us sees and experiences the world differently that language becomes our most important means for coming to some kind of agreement on our individual experiences, on how we see the world.  — William Lutz (1989, p. 6)

DEFINITION: BYPASSING

The map–territory analogy resonates because people know that any given map cannot represent all of its territory. Additionally, we know that because maps are self-reflexive, we confuse levels of abstraction. Now, we will discover that we still can miss each other’s meanings because we forget that a map is not the territory it represents: “If we reflect upon our languages, we find that at best they must be considered only as maps. A word is not the object it represents” (Korzybski, 2000, p. 58).  The map represents the assumptions and experiences of the mapmaker. This section explores what happens when people do not recognize that meaning is in the mapmaker (person), not the map (word).

How many people can remember being sure that they understood what a teacher meant by “summarize the article” but later discovered that our interpretation of “summarize” and the teacher’s interpretation were very different? Haney (1992) explained this phenomenon as bypassing: “the listener presumably heard the same words that the speaker said, but the communicators seem to have talked past each other” (p. 268). The listener and speaker act as if the words mean the same thing to each person, but their interpretations are different. Similarly, communicators can use different words to refer to the same thing: some call a soft drink “soda,” whereas others refer to it as “pop.”  Miscommunication often results because these assumptions are faulty and go unnoticed.

When I tell students that there will be a “quiz” during the next class period, I receive few inquiries concerning the nature of the assessment. Students might ask what material will be included on the quiz, but rarely do they ask about the number or type of questions, and how the score will impact their final course grade. Many times, because quizzes are used to judge comprehension of material not mastery, there is little impact on final grades. We miss each other’s meaning because we do not check the meaning each person intended, even if we are using the same words.

Consequently, we need to explore contributing factors that lead to bypassing. Once we discover why we do not routinely inquire about others’ meanings, we will be challenged to build new habits, such as paraphrasing and exploring contextual clues.

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

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: BYPASSING

Haney (1992) suggested that bypassing is caused by two assumptions: words have mono-usage and they have meanings. First, we operate under the assumption that words have mono-usage when we forget that words have more than one meaning. Haney (1992) advocated for “learning about the prevalence of multiusage in our language . . . [so we] will anticipate that words can readily be understood differently by different people” (p. 274). He noted numerous examples of “word coinage,” the invention of new word with acronyms, such as “AIDS” (p. 275), and of “usage coinage,” the new use of existing words, such as “high” (p. 277).

Similarly, Haney (1992) challenged readers to find words that were used in only one way: “for the 500 of the most commonly used words in our language there is aggregate of over 14,000 dictionary definitions!” (p. 274). Regional variations and technical jargon encountered daily compound this conundrum. How many times have you been unable to understand medical terminology used by a physician?  Do conversations with a plumber and car mechanic make any more sense? How many people can follow the political jargon used to debate the national debt?

With a better understanding of multiuse language, we recognize that the assumption, words have meaning, also is inaccurate. We know from our understanding of general semantics that the “map is not the ‘territory,’ so there is no not territory,” so it follows that meaning in the person, not in the map (word). Similar to the inference–observation confusion, people take an uncalculated risk when they assume understanding based on words and nonverbal cues.

Moreover, we must remember that each person is operates from a particular cultural context. According to Hofstede (1984), cultures vary in how they manage power differences, are tolerant of ambiguity, value the individual or collective, and emphasize assertiveness or nurturance. Therefore, we may miss each other with meaning because we do not understand differences in attitudes and beliefs. As Morreale et al. (2007) explained:

In collectivist cultures, collective goals take priority over individual goals. People in collectivist cultures such as Japan, China, and Korea may find it hard to speak up and offer their opinions in a group setting, especially if those views are contrary to the group’s majority opinion.  Their sense of loyalty precludes them from voicing dissenting opinions and disrupting the group. (p.64)

Finally, when people use language with intent to miscommunicate, they are guilty of “deliberate bypassing” (Haney, 1992, p. 286). Lutz (1989) called this phenomenon “doublespeak”: language that avoids or shifts responsibility . . . that conceals or prevents thought” (p. 1). Doublespeak is used to mislead and deceive. Lutz has written several books and many articles about forms of doublespeak that are used by organizational and political leaders; in particular, he identified four forms:

  1. Euphemism: “an inoffensive or positive word or phrase used to avoid a harsh, unpleasant, or distasteful reality” (p. 2).
  2. Jargon: “the specialized language of a trade, profession, or similar group” (p. 3).
  3. Gobbledygook: “a matter of piling on of words, of overwhelming the audience with words, the bigger the words and the longer the sentences the better” (p. 5).
  4. Inflated language: “designed to make the ordinary seem extraordinary; to make everyday things seem impressive; to give an importance to people, situations, or things that would not normally be considered important; to make the simple seem complex” (p. 6).

Unfortunately, we find many examples of doublespeak in politics, business, and education. For instance, when leaders use “collateral damage” to describe civilians who die in warfare and “re-engineering” to describe layoffs, they are employing euphemisms to mislead the public involved. Similarly, when administrators use jargon and long sentences, they may be trying to obfuscate, not elaborate. These examples motivate us to confront bypassing in personal and professional contexts.

CORRECTIVES: BYPASSING

Similar to the previous patterns of allness and inference–observation confusion, we recognize that we cannot fully eliminate bypassing. However, the following correctives will prevent as much bypassing as possible. These actions must become a habit, an immediate response during a communication event.

Be Person-minded, not Word-minded

Do you ever find yourself arguing with friends over silly questions? It might be that you are not at odds about the facts involved but merely disagreeing about the “label” that each person gives those facts. For example, when you consistently arrive 15 minutes late for family dinners, some members may interpret your behavior as disrespectful of “family time,” whereas other family members think that it is fine to disregard a cultural norm of being punctual.

We often forget that words are meaningless symbols until someone attaches meaning to them. One of my favorite ways to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of language is to watch the Twilight Zone episode, “Wordplay,” which can be found on YouTube. In the “Wordplay, Episode 1,” the main character, Bill, quickly discovers that the words people use do not make sense in the context in which the words are normally used. For example, as Bill leaves for work, the neighbor refers to their dog, which just had puppies, as an “encyclopedia.” When Bill gets to work, a customer discusses celebrating 17th wedding “throw rug,” meaning, of course, a 17th wedding “anniversary.” Later in the episode, when a colleague and Bill’s wife both refer to “lunch” as “dinosaur,” Bill knows that he has entered the “twilight zone.” As “Wordplay, Episode 2” unfolds, however, Bill painstakingly communicates with his family by focusing on the people and contexts, not the words being used.

In real life, people who are aware that meaning resides “in the person” are less concerned with dictionary definitions and are more attuned to what senders mean in different contexts. If we clarify that we are using words in the same way as those with whom we communicate, we are being “person-minded.” For example, imagine how it would feel to interact with someone whose first priority is to understand what you mean by “down time.” Instead of assuming that you want to read a magazine and then take a nap, he or she would understand that cleaning might energize you more than reading and napping.

Query and Paraphrase

Curious people find it easy to be person-minded. Unlike those who are sure that they know what others mean, inquisitive individuals are more worried about learning than whether others perceive them as being intelligent. Many college professors and business managers agree with Haney’s (1992) conclusion that asking thoughtful questions will earn the respect of superiors because questions show “interest and a sense of responsibility” (p. 290).

Similarly, if we paraphrase—using our words to summarize a speaker’s message and to clarify the accuracy of our interpretations—we are being person-minded. If you have tried to accurately summarize what another person’s directions, you know the time-consuming nature of this process. However, when you avoid getting lost because you have paraphrased well, ultimately, you might save time and build supportive communication climates.

Be Approachable

In addition to remembering to query and paraphrase, we must do all we can to be receptive to others’ ideas and behaviors. Haney (1992) recommended asking the following question each day: “Am I genuinely receptive to feedback, and do I continually communicate my receptivity to others?” (p. 293). This means paying close attention to messages that we might be unintentionally sending, both verbally and nonverbally. Researchers note the importance of nonverbal cues for mutual understanding: we need culturally appropriate occulesics (use of eyes), proxemics (use of personal space), and haptics (use of touch), in addition to effective vocalics (use of voice) and kinesics (use of body) for the various settings in which we communicate (Morreale et al., 2007).

Perhaps by identifying what makes other people approachable in various contexts, we can incorporate such verbal and nonverbal skills when interacting with others. Moreover, we could solicit feedback from those we trust. If someone suggests that lack of eye contact makes us seem “unapproachable,” we could purposefully monitor our connections with others, especially if we are living and working in the United States, where providing good eye contact is a sign of caring and respect.

Be Sensitive to Contexts

Haney (1992) proposed that the “surrounding words (verbal context) and the surrounding circumstance (situational context)” (p. 295) provide the clues needed to prevent bypassing. We know this to be true in educational contexts when we discover the meaning of new concepts by noting how they are used in a sentence.

Many of us like the challenge of a good mystery, so we might enjoy being a “language detective,” discovering the meaning in the person and the context. Postman (1976) coined the phrase “stupid talk” to refer to language used by those who ignore contextual cues; it is “talk that does not know what environment it is in” (p. 20). He argued that effective communication includes people and their purposes, in addition to “general rules of the discourse by which such purposes are usually achieved . . . [and that] particular talk actually being used in the situation” (Postman, p. 8). We need to explore whether our language is both appropriate and effective for the context.

Correctives for BypassingBe person-minded, not wordminded — Disagree with the dictionary and agree with the person’s background.

Query & paraphrase — Summarize a speaker and then ask clarifying questions.

Be approachable — Be open to verbal and nonverbal feedback.

Be sensitive to contexts — Be mindful of the situation in which the word was used.

 

SUMMARY

In communicating with others, we often focus on the message instead of the person with whom we are interacting. We focus on words because we believe meaning is in the word. We rely on dictionaries and past experiences to find meaning, instead of being curious about the contexts in which we find ourselves. Moreover, we forget that most of our words have multiple meanings. We are unaware that people might use euphemisms and jargon to mislead.

To implement the premise that “a map is not the ‘territory,’ so there is no not territory,” we must act as if we know that meaning is in the person. We need to be sensitive to contexts in which a person is using a word, carefully paraphrasing answers to clarifying questions. Throughout this text we have learned that additional inquiry can lead to more effective message construction because we cannot possibly know everything about anything and because language is self-reflexive. Even though paraphrasing might be time-consuming at the outset, it builds trust in a relationship, which might save valuable time in the long run. Perhaps we might learn something new and become more approachable in the process.

REFLECTION AND ACTION

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

  • How might you teach your supervisor at work about bypassing?
  • Why would we make the assumption that words mean the same to us as they do to another?
  • Are there situations where doublespeak might be ethically defensible?

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

  • Engage a supervisor, co-worker, or friend at work in a conversation in which you explain the significance of understanding bypassing.

3. Share your insights and experiences with others in the course by participating in the Module 3 Bypassing discussion.

Remember, you won’t be able to see others’ responses until you’ve posted yours.

 

Bypassing-Slide1.jpg

Bypassing-Slide2.jpg

Irving J. Lee from “Talking Sense” on Bypassing

 

If you have trouble viewing YouTube videos, try this as an alternative:

ML-edit-lee-bypass.mp4

 

The basic question is not, “What did a person say?” The question is, “Does what a person says fit the life facts.”

Verbal Awareness

from Chapter 2 of Awareness and Action

Korzybski (2000) argued for a “complete denial of ‘identity,’” an elimination of identification, to help us match the structure of our language to the nonverbal world it represents (p. 10). In other words, we need to challenge our perceptions because, as we learned earlier, what we describe is not what we sense, and what we sense is not what happened. Korzybski was concerned with humans confusing these levels of abstraction: “When humans who are engaged in abstracting identify (confuse) orders of abstracting they are “identifying” . . . [and] identification [becomes] the primary mechanism of misevaluation” (as cited in Pula, 2000, p. 23). Similarly, Chisholm (1945) explained what happens when we confuse levels of abstraction:

What I say about it is what it is

My statement = truth about subject of the statement

WORDS=TRUTH

What I say about anything = what it is (p. 3)

Unfortunately, our nervous systems may prevent us from knowing what “it” is for sure but our language allows us to operate as if words, or labels, represent reality. The need for structural changes in our language is apparent in the following example:

If it is what I say it is, it is perfectly safe for me to guide myself entirely in terms of my verbal formulation. I don’t have to look out at the world again at all because I have in me some words which are equivalent to it.

But what is in the cans in a grocery store is more important than the labels wound around them: if a can containing spinach is by mistake labeled pumpkin, no amount of looking at the label will make the pie of the contents palatable pie for anyone but Popeye. Yet identification behavior equates label and thing labeled, and assumes ican safely guide my reactions by the label. (Chisholm, 1945, p. 3)

Even if we laugh at this fuzzy logic, how many times do we react to labels on a daily basis? Labeling some people as “kind” and others as “rude,” we move through our interactions without an awareness of how people change. This is why some general semanticists advocate for elimination of the verb “to be,” proposing that we write in “E-prime,” avoiding the “is” of identity (Bourland, 1989). Murphy (1992) explained that the verb “is” joins “nouns at different levels of abstraction [Mary is a woman]” and joins “a noun to an adjective that neither completely nor permanently qualifies it [Mary is cold]” (p. 20).

Write a paragraph about your best friend and then check it for forms of the verb “to be.” See how many times you use the “is of identity” to link nouns as if they were identical, on the same level of abstraction (e.g., my friend is a physician). Similarly, how often did you find the “is of prediction,” linking nouns with adjectives as if personality characteristics remain constant (e.g., she is amazing)? Just because I am “outgoing” today does not mean that I will act that way in a few days, let alone in a few years.

Murphy (1992) continued with more problems with the verb “to be”:

. . . the verb makes possible the widespread use of the passive voice, conditions us to accept detours around crucial issues of causality (“Mistakes were made”). It makes possible the raising of unanswerable, because hopelessly formulated, questions (“What is truth?”). It makes possible, too, the construction of a variety of phrases (“As is well known . . .”) that casually sweep reasoning under a rug. One also finds the verb to be pressed into service on behalf of stereotypical labeling (“Scotsmen are stingy”) and overbroad existential generalization (“I am just no good”). These issues aside, semanticists say, the verb to be, broadly “Yet identification behavior equates label and thing labeled, and assumes ican safely guide my reactions by the label.” speaking , imputes an Aristotelian neatness, rigidity, and permanence to the world around us and to the relationships among all things in it—conditions that rarely have a basis in dynamic reality. (p. 20)

Such examples demonstrate the need to scrutinize the verb “to be” in our daily thinking, writing, and speaking.

Consequently, we can fully appreciate the need for verbal and nonverbal awareness in light of the
abstraction process. The following chapters of this text help us to put this general semantics methodology into daily practice. Ultimately, we want to avoid being trapped at higher levels of abstraction and pursuing unattainable goals, the result of which is well described by Wendell Johnson (1946):

In spite of all the prizes he captures, “success” eludes him! It eludes him for the remarkably obvious, but persistently unnoticed, reason that it is merely a verbal mirage. What he seeks to escape is an absolute failure, what he anxiously pursues is an absolute success—and they do not exist outside his aching head. What he does in fact achieve is a series of relative successes; and these are all that he, these are all that anyone, can ever achieve. But in the midst of relative abundance, absolutistic idealists suffer the agonies of famine. (pp. 5–6)

 

Twilight Zone episode, “Word Play”

In order to understand the fallacy that words have meanings, that words are just meaningless variables until someone fixes the variable and chooses to interpret the words in a particular way, watch the following Twilight Zone episode.

Why do people argue over silly questions?  They think they are disputing facts, but they are disagreeing about what name they will give to those facts.

If you have trouble viewing the embedded video below, click here to view the 18-minute episode on YouTube.

Multiple Meanings for “FAST” and “CALL”

Enjoy the following excerpt from William Haney’s 6th edition of Communication and Interpersonal Relations: Texts and Cases (1992, p. 274):

haney-bypassing-examples.jpg

Miscommunication Worksheets

The following worksheets (one completed, one blank) can be used to help recognize patterns of miscommunication, including Allness and Bypassing.

In Column 1, explain with detailed dialogue “who” said “what.”

In Column 2, use the definitions for each contributing factor and then apply it specifically to the dialogue included.

In Column 3, use definitions for each corrective and then apply the correctives to your behavior (it is tempting to want the other person to use the correctives, but they don’t know the correctives like you do!)

Completed Worksheet for Bypassing

Download printable version (pdf)

Worksheet-Example-for-Bypassing-revised.jpg

Blank Miscommunication Worksheet

Download printable version (pdf)

blank-miscomm-worksheet.jpg

 

Bypassing – Sample Case Analysis

Instructions

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

After reading the Allness Sample Case below, Phonathon, explore how Jenny and Professor Burch were exhibiting bypassing behaviors. You can find the contributing factors defined and explained in the second column of Table 3.1 below. Similarly, you can see how each character can use a bypassing corrective.

Bypassing Sample Case:  Soon

Jenny worked hard. She studied weeks before a test to make sure that she was prepared. She stuck to a strict schedule to keep her assignments and classes in order; consequently, she liked to know how she was doing in a course, to see which class needed more time. Professor Burch, her literature instructor, changed his syllabus, switched due dates, and rarely returned assignments. These actions meant trouble for Jenny.

Professor Burch assigned long papers in all his classes; therefore, it often took him several days to return papers. This literature class was one of four courses that he taught during a semester. He had assigned a 10-page paper about Shakespeare in the class that Jenny was taking.

Jenny had stayed up for several nights to complete her work, so she was relieved to be turning in the paper during Tuesday’s class. Turning to Steve, she asked, “Where is your paper?”

“He said he’d accept them by the end of the business day, so I’ll finish mine and then run it to him later,” Steve said. “Professor Burch usually does not stick to due dates unless he specifically says that he will.”

Professor Burch told the class members that he would return their papers soon. Because he said that he would turn the papers back to them soon, Jenny was confident that she would receive her paper the following week. She waited patiently but soon realized that the professor was taking much longer than she anticipated.

[2 weeks later]

Full of nervous energy, Jenny walked into class and headed straight for the professor’s desk. Trying to sound as calm as possible, Jenny asked, “Professor, we still have not received our papers about Shakespeare. When are we going to get the papers back?”

Professor Burch replied, “I am just finishing up the last few grades, so you will be getting them back soon.”

Jenny found a seat next to Steve and grumbled, “I cannot believe that he has not given our papers back.”

Steve calmly replied, “I really do not think it is a big deal. He said that he will give them back soon, so I am sure that we will get them later this week.”

Later that class period, Professor Burch assigned another paper that was longer and worth more points. Not knowing what her grade was for the previous paper, Jenny was unsure how to begin the current one. She would have to go to Professor Burch’s office hours tomorrow. Perhaps he might even have her other paper graded by then.

Character Analysis

A character analysis helps 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 Jenny and Professor Burch in terms of contributing factors and correctives.

Table 3.1

Character Contributing Factor (define, explain) Corrective (demonstrate, define, explain)
Jenny Definition: Word have meanings — The false assumption that meaning is in words, not people.Explanation: Jenny assumes that she and Professor Burch have the same meaning of the word soon. Definition: query and paraphrase — Summarize a speaker and then ask clarifying questions.Explanation: Jenny realizes that the meaning of soon depends on the person, so she asks Professor Burch to estimate the date he hopes to return papers.
Professor Burch Definition: Words have mono-usage —The false assumption that a word has only one meaning. Explanation: Professor Burch is unaware that students have different meanings for soon. Definition: Be person-minded, not word-minded —Disagree with the dictionary and agree with the person’s background.Explanation: Professor Burch recognizes that Jenny is a student who diligently completes assignments, so he gives her a specific date for when he will be done with the grades.

 

Bypassing – 3 Case Studies

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 bypassing behavior.

Bypassing Case 3.1: Hard Work

Samantha, a junior volleyball player, headed to her weekly meeting with the head coach. Sometimes, these meetings went well; other times, she was scared of what might happen. This coach’s behaviors differed from what Samantha usually expected of a head coach, the coach only interacted with players at individual meetings.  Samantha assumed that this week’s meetings would focus on the team’s performance at the end of the season.

“Good morning, Samantha.  How do you feel about your performance in both games and practices this year?” the head coach asked.

“I think that I worked hard during practice, but I rarely had the opportunity to play in the games.”

“I thought that the amount of time you played during games matched your performances during practice,” answered the coach.  “Do you think that you are going to play next season?”

“I have a heavy course load, and I may need to look for a job or an internship. More important, I believe that I should be rewarded with more playing time for all my hard work.”

“Well, your hard work is appreciated,” explained the coach.  “Regardless of whether you play, I believe that the team could use a good teammate and hard worker like you. You really show the rest of the team how to be a good sport and have a good attitude. We would like to have you on the team, but either way, I wish you luck next year.”

Meanwhile, Kendra, also a junior volleyball player, met with the assistant coach.  Kendra did not care about these evaluation meetings.  Sometimes, she even skipped them simply because she knew that neither coach would punish her.  Because she was the best player on the team, she knew it did not matter whether she tried at practice, as the coaches always played her and she started every game.

The assistant coach inquired, “Kendra, how would you rate your effort in both games and practices?”

“Well, practices never seem important because I start every game. You have my statistics, so you know how hard I work during games.”

“Do you think you will play next year?” asked the assistant coach.

“Of course I’m going to play. I am not sure that the team could win without me. I work the hardest out there,” claimed Kendra.

“Well, those are all the questions I have for you.  Keep your grades up and we will see you next season,” the assistant coach concluded. She sighed deeply as she headed to the next round of player meetings. Someday when she was a head coach, she would definitely address players with bad attitudes.

In the hallway, Samantha and Kendra crossed paths outside of the coaches’ offices and discussed their individual meetings. Samantha rarely enjoyed these interactions, but she decided to ask Kendra about meeting with the assistant coach.

“They want me to play next year. Those silly meetings never mean anything to me.  I told the assistant coach that practice was not important and she did not even get mad.”

“Coach told me they appreciate my hard work at practice. See you next season,” Samantha finished, hoping she would not cross paths with Kendra anytime soon.

 

Bypassing Case 3.2: Volume

Late one weeknight, Trey, a sophomore political science major, had music playing in his dorm room. The walls were thin, so the music bothered his neighbors. The bass sound started to shake the floor, which meant that the ceiling in the room below was vibrating. Trey’s resident assistant, a senior named Calvin, was studying for an important 400-level chemistry exam that he needed to complete successfully to get into graduate school. Another resident, Kyle, had an 8:00 am class the next day and wanted to get some sleep.

Kyle went to Calvin’s room and asked, “Can you have Trey turn his music down? I’m trying to sleep and I have class in the morning.”

Calvin agreed to talk to Trey. Because the loud music was happening during “quiet” hours, Calvin ran upstairs and asked Trey to turn his music down to respect the other residents.

“This is your only warning for the night, Trey. There are other people on this floor besides you,” Calvin reminded Trey. Trey begrudgingly agreed to turn down the music.

On his way back to his room to study, Calvin told Kyle that Trey agreed to turn the music down. Kyle thanked Calvin and went back to bed.

After a couple of minutes, Calvin realized that he could still hear the bass from Trey’s music. He trudged back to Trey’s room and firmly stated, “I thought I asked you to turn that music down. Now, I am going to have to write you up.”

“I did turn it down a notch,” Trey protested.

Calvin looked at the volume dial on Trey’s speakers.  Perhaps Trey had turned down the volume since the previous visit, but it was not enough.

“Considering that your bass still is shaking the floor, you need to turn it way down. I really do not want to write you up. At this hour, you should be the only one who can hear your music,” Calvin concluded.

Trey sighed after Calvin left the room. As far as Trey was concerned, the volume was turned down. He slammed his headphones over his ears. Within minutes, he was swaying to the music, forgetting the whole incident and focusing on political science theory.

 

Bypassing Case 3.3: Light Mayo

On Sunday afternoon, Eliza, a 20-year-old university student, clocked in for her shift at a local restaurant.

Eliza’s manager, Olivia, approached Eliza when she arrived and asked, “Eliza, can you do inventory later tonight?”

Eliza nodded in agreement and started her normal shift as a waitress. She took orders, delivered food, refilled drinks, and bused tables. Eliza knew Olivia expected assigned tasks, such as inventory, to be done before a shift was over. Because it was a Sunday night, Eliza knew that there would be a lot of down time towards the end of her shift.

After the dinner crowd dwindled, Eliza started to head to the backroom to start inventory. Just then, Todd, a regular customer, walked in, and asked, “Hello, Eliza, may I have a chicken sandwich with light mayo?”

“Sure, chicken with light mayo?” She repeated to confirm Todd’s order as she typed it into the computer. Ten minutes later, Eliza served Todd his sandwich and headed for the back room.

Todd took a bite of his sandwich and called for Eliza to come back. “Eliza, I said light mayo, right?”

“Yes, a chicken sandwich with light mayo,” she replied.

“I wanted a chicken sandwich with just a little bit of mayo. I cannot eat a sandwich with all of this mayo,” Todd complained as he pushed the plate across the table.

“I am so sorry. I thought you wanted the brand of light mayonnaise that we use. I will have the cook make you another one.” She headed back to the kitchen to correct the mistake.

“I sure wish that this one would have been right. I have so much work to finish tonight,” Todd muttered. “Have the cook put it in a box for me to take home.” Todd pulled out his phone to check for e-mails and waited.

When Eliza returned with Todd’s sandwich, he snatched it from her and left the restaurant without tipping. Upset about the mistake, Eliza started scrubbing tables. Just then, Cindy, Eliza’s overdramatic friend, rushed into the restaurant. Eliza could only imagine what had happened now. Cindy always had gossip to share, especially when Eliza was at work.

“We need to talk!” Cindy said urgently.

“Can it wait until later? I am work, remember?” Eliza asked.

“But there is no one in here! What do you have to do?” Cindy questioned.

As Cindy was begging her friend to listen, Olivia came from the back of the restaurant and reminded, Eliza, “Make sure you get to that inventory soon.”

“See, Cindy, I have do work to do,” Eliza argued.

“But Olivia said to do that soon, not right now,” Cindy protested. Cindy then took a seat at the nearest booth, rambling on about her crisis “du jour,” unaware that Eliza had stopped listening and started taking inventory.

Assignment

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

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

  1. a contributing factor (words have mono-usage, words have meaning) to the character’s bypassing behavior;
  2. an explanation as to how the character exhibited the contributing factor;
  3. a corrective (be person-minded, not word-minded: query & paraphrase: be approachable; be sensitive to context ) 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 one character and proceed to the discussion for that character:

  • Case 3.1 (Hard Work): Samantha
  • Case 3.1 (Hard Work): Coach
  • Case 3.2 (Volume): Trey
  • Case 3.2 (Volume): Calvin
  • Case 3.3 (Light Mayo): Eliza
  • Case 3.3 (Light Mayo): Todd

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

ASSIGNMENT INSTRUCTIONS – COACH

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

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

  1. a contributing factor (words have mono-usage, words have meaning) to Coach’s bypassing behavior
  2. an explanation as to how Coach exhibited the contributing factor
  3. a corrective (be person-minded, not word-minded; query & paraphrase; be approachable; be sensitive to context ) specific to Coach’s bypassing behavior
  4. an explanation regarding how Coach 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.


Samantha, a junior volleyball player, headed to her weekly meeting with the head Coach. Sometimes, these meetings went well; other times, she was scared of what might happen. This coach’s behaviors differed from what Samantha usually expected of a head coach, the coach only interacted with players at individual meetings.  Samantha assumed that this week’s meetings would focus on the team’s performance at the end of the season.

“Good morning, Samantha.  How do you feel about your performance in both games and practices this year?” the head coach asked.

“I think that I worked hard during practice, but I rarely had the opportunity to play in the games.”

“I thought that the amount of time you played during games matched your performances during practice,” answered the coach.  “Do you think that you are going to play next season?”

“I have a heavy course load, and I may need to look for a job or an internship. More important, I believe that I should be rewarded with more playing time for all my hard work.”

“Well, your hard work is appreciated,” explained the coach.  “Regardless of whether you play, I believe that the team could use a good teammate and hard worker like you. You really show the rest of the team how to be a good sport and have a good attitude. We would like to have you on the team, but either way, I wish you luck next year.”

Meanwhile, Kendra, also a junior volleyball player, met with the assistant coach.  Kendra did not care about these evaluation meetings.  Sometimes, she even skipped them simply because she knew that neither coach would punish her.  Because she was the best player on the team, she knew it did not matter whether she tried at practice, as the coaches always played her and she started every game.

The assistant coach inquired, “Kendra, how would you rate your effort in both games and practices?”

“Well, practices never seem important because I start every game. You have my statistics, so you know how hard I work during games.”

“Do you think you will play next year?” asked the assistant coach.

“Of course I’m going to play. I am not sure that the team could win without me. I work the hardest out there,” claimed Kendra.

“Well, those are all the questions I have for you.  Keep your grades up and we will see you next season,” the assistant coach concluded. She sighed deeply as she headed to the next round of player meetings. Someday when she was a head coach, she would definitely address players with bad attitudes.

In the hallway, Samantha and Kendra crossed paths outside of the coaches’ offices and discussed their individual meetings. Samantha rarely enjoyed these interactions, but she decided to ask Kendra about meeting with the assistant coach.

“They want me to play next year. Those silly meetings never mean anything to me.  I told the assistant coach that practice was not important and she did not even get mad.”

“Coach told me they appreciate my hard work at practice. See you next season,” Samantha finished, hoping she would not cross paths with Kendra anytime soon.

Bypassing Review and Reflection

Write down any thoughts or comments you want to document in your Personal Journal.

William Lutz on Doublespeak

Watch this 1-hour interview with author William Lutz on doublespeak:

http://www.booknotes.org/Watch/10449-1/William+Lutz.aspx

Irving J. Lee from “Talking Sense” on Words

If you have trouble viewing YouTube videos, try this as an alternative:

ML-edit-lee-words.mp4

Optional Activities

  1. Language, Appearance and Reality: Doublespeak in 1984 – by William D. Lutz, as published in ETC: A Review of General Semantics.
  2. The Science and Sanity of Listening – as published in ETC: A Review of General Semantics.
  3. Try the New York Times Dialect Quiz.

Bypassing Discussion

Now that you’ve had some experience studying the contributing factors and correctives for the GS behavior known as bypassing, please share your learning experiences with others in the course by discussing these two questions by replying to this topic.

  1. Explain how you taught bypassing to a friend or relative.
  2. What did you learn about bypassing from this experience?

Remember, you won’t be able to see others’ responses until you’ve posted yours.

After reviewing others’ responses, provide at least one insightful response to a classmate’s post by building on his/her ideas and encouraging further exploration. Avoid simple statements of agreement or disagreement, support or criticsim.

Question 1 5 pts

There are times when doublespeak can be ethically defensible.

There are times when doublespeak can be ethically defensible.
True
False

Flag this Question
Question 2 5 pts

The word is not the object it represents.

The word is not the object it represents.
True
False

Flag this Question
Question 3 5 pts

Cultural context, according to Hofstede, involves just 2 dimensions: power difference and tolerance of ambiguity.

Cultural context, according to Hofstede, involves just 2 dimensions: power difference and tolerance of ambiguity.
True
False

Flag this Question
Question 4 5 pts

When we say “words have mono-usage,” we are operating on the assumption that a word has only one meaning.

When we say “words have mono-usage,” we are operating on the assumption that a word has only one meaning.
True
False

Flag this Question
Question 5 5 pts

Bypassing resonates with which General Semantics premise?

Bypassing resonates with which General Semantics premise?
None of these.
The map is not the territory and there is no “not” territory.
Maps refer to parts of the territory becoming reflexive to other parts at different levels of abstraction.
A map covers not all the territory, so any map is only part of the territory.

Flag this Question
Question 6 5 pts

When you are trying to discover what a word means to another person, which of the suggestions below is NOT a corrective for bypassing?

When you are trying to discover what a word means to another person, which of the suggestions below is NOT a corrective for bypassing?
Query and paraphrase
Be person-minded, not word-minded
Finding definitions in the dictionary
Be sensitive to contexts

Flag this Question
Question 7 20 pts

Match the following terms to their descriptions.

Match the following terms to their descriptions.
Inoffensive or positive word/phrase used to avoid harsh, unpleasant, or distateful reality
A matter of piling on words or overwhelming the audience with words.
Specialized language of a trade, profession, or similar group.
Designed to make ordinary seem extraordinary.

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 Bypassing?
open-checkbox21.png 2.  Did you view the Twilight Zone: Word Play video episode?
open-checkbox21.png 3.  Did you contribute to one of the six case character discussions: Coach, Kendra, Trey, Calvin, Eliza, or Todd?
open-checkbox21.png 4.  Did you submit your case analysis assignment?
open-checkbox21.png 5.  Did you complete the Bypassing Review Discussion assignment?
open-checkbox21.png 6.  Did you view and reflect on the William Lutz and Irving J. Lee videos, then contribute your thoughts to the Ongoing Course Discussion?
open-checkbox21.png 7.  Did you successfully complete the Module 3 Quiz?

 

Wonderful!

You’re ready to move on to Module 4: Language and Culture.

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