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Interconnectivity and metacommunication

The study of interpersonal communication touches on a range of different disciplines, each with its own focus. This has given rise to an apparent fragmentation in the literature which is manifested in the categorisation of the various components of a communicative act, and even the subdivision of the categories established. This can be seen in the study of metacommunication, which although considered an essential component of human interaction has been subdivided into a myriad of constituent parts. Whilst the separation of various components permits detailed focus on different facets of interpersonal interaction, there is a risk that the complementarity of the various facets may be underestimated or even lost. To autonomise each aspect of a communicative act may not be conducive to a comprehensive understanding of what happens in an interaction since all elements, verbal, non-verbal and contextual, to name but a few, need to be considered and interpreted simultaneously. Approaches to the study of metacommunication, whilst being multidimensional, appear to have led to fragmentation. It is our contention that understanding what constitutes a complete communicative interaction involves the consideration of these various aspects at the same time.

KEYWORDS: metacommunication, connectivity, interpersonal communication, verbal communication, non- verbal communication, silence in communication

Hayet Bahri. Module Leader in Protocol at the Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London, teaches at the University of Westminster. Trustee of the Muslim Institute in London. Professional conference interpreter and liaison specialist. Research interests cover interfaith dialogue, discourse analysis and semantics.

Robert Williams. Former chair of the ICC. Has over 30 years’ experience in language education as a teacher, teacher trainer, materials writer, assessor and consultant. Also trained as a conference interpreter and for the past 15 years has been involved in teaching intercultural communication directly in company and within trainer training. Currently a principal lecturer in the Dpt of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Westminster. Teaches on the MA TESOL (leading modules on Testing and Materials Development) and is course leader for the MA International Liaison and Communication, a pioneering course training people to be the bridge across communities and between language groupings. Currently the internal quality assurance member for CoMoViWo – a project designing intercultural communication training material in English and Spanish, with a focus on e-communication.


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