Week 4: Context and Calibration

Part of:
Context and Communication

Transactional Model

If you look back to the model in lesson 1, you might notice that all of the other parts of the model are wrapped up in context.

Context is a super broad term and can refer to almost everything about the location, time, and participants in a conversation.You can think of it as a catch-all term for all other variables that influence the message. The same words in vastly different contexts can mean incredibly different things. Even if the meaning of a message is the same, context can determine how the receiver of the message feels about it.

Reading Material

  • An article briefly categorizing some common ways context can vary: The Contexts of Communication
  • List of broad generalizations of contrasts between cultures for intercultural context: INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: HOT-CLIMATE VERSUS COLD-CLIMATE-CULTURES The hot-cold classification of cultures is a loose theory that correlates a bunch of cultural tendencies. I find it useful to look over to get an idea of how my assumptions and expectations for how people act may not be the same for people from different cultures.


Notice your contexts. Think about a conversation you’ve had recently (it may be the same one you recorded for lesson 1), and list out everything that might have influenced the message being sent beyond just your verbal and nonverbal communication. Time, location, previous conversations, relationship dynamics, common knowledge, cultural influences, etcetera. How would the message be different if the same words were said in a different context?


Discuss the homework.


  • Pick a familiar context that you regularly find yourself in. Act or say something out of the norm for that context. Such as using dominant body language in a place where you are usually shy, or talking quietly when you are usually loud. (Be careful and use your best judgement. Don’t, for example, cuss out your boss.) How do people react? How do you feel differently in that context?
  • Give me a writeup of specific techniques or ideas you would like to have presented in a class on context.

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