Human Communication Handbook

Ruben, Brent D. and Richard W. Budd 1975. Human Communication Handbook: Simulations and Games, Volume 1. Piscataway: Transaction Publishers.

Serving sometimes as a communicator, initiator, or mass communicator of information; sometimes as a recipient, receiver or audience member; and often more or less simultaneously as both, the individual is clearly at the center of the communication process. To understand how the personal communication process operates, it is useful to consider how we function as users and creators of verbal, written, and non-verbal messages. more specifically, one might focus upon how we see, hear, gather, order, categorize, and understand the situations in which we find outselves. This handbook emphasizes the role of assumptions, past experience, language, perception, and expectations in influencing our notion of self, objects, environment, and other people, as well as our own values and our ability to learn and to change at any point in time. In adopting such a view of personal communication, we are concerned as much about how we are communicated-with as we are about how we communicate-to. (Ruben & Richards 1975: 19)
It is not always granted that communication research is about personal communication - there are many which consider it a thoroughly social phenomenon and dismiss any individuality as nonsense. This approach I prefer more, as it portrays the person as both user and creator of messages. I would prefer to go to the lenght of viewing man as creating language itself as well, but more so in terms of nonverbal codes than verbal language which is mostly handed down by it's previous users.
It is seldom indeed that the interpretation of two individuals overlap and correspond enough to treat them as one and the same. To note that we buy different cars, perfumes, toothpastes; prefer different colors, read different magazines, newspapers, and television programs; live in different sorts of dwellings; belong to different clubs, political parties, and professional organizations; and have different friends, is to point out only the tip of the iceberg of individual difference. And it is largely through the process of personal communication that we acquire, maintain and alter our manner of making choices, relating and sorting information about the world and the people in it. (Ruben & Richards 1975: 19)
The first bold span refers to the problem of perfect vs adequate communication. The examples are essentially of the habitus type. And the latter bold span refers to individual codes, or self-communication sensu Charles Morris (1949: 213).
Self-disclosure and Listening
This activity is designed to focus attention on the basic aspects of speaking, listening, and self-disclosure. The activity requires approximately 30 minutes and can be used with any number of three-person groups.
  1. Participants are clustered in triads.
  2. Members of each triad assign themselves the letter A, B, or C. The triad members designated A will serve initially in the role of speaker. Person B in each triad will serve first as listener, and person C will act in the role of judge.
  3. The task of the individual designated A in each triad, is to briefly present (3 to 5 minutes) to person B and C, a description of those things about him which another person would need to know in order to understand how and why he communicates as he does.
  4. At the conclusion of the 3-5 minute period, person A concludes his presentation. Person B, who has been serving as litener, then provides a verbal summary of the main points of person A's explanation.
  5. The summary must satisfy person C who judges the accuracy and adequacy of person B's listening and summarization.
  6. After having satisfied person A and C, person B moves into the role of speaker, and explains to person A (who now serves as judge) and C (who serves as listener) what they would need to know about him in order to understand how and why he communicates as he does.
  7. After 3-5 minutes person C summarizes what person B has said and then, after satisfying persons B and A, becomes the speaker.
  8. The process may be repeated several times allowing each participant the opportunity to serve more than once in each role.
(Ruben & Richards 1975: 21)
Environmental Awareness
This activity is designed to heighten participants' awareness of their physical environment. it can be used with four to ten participants seated in a circle. Several such groups may meet simultaneously, but should not be within hearing distance of one another. The exercise requires 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. have participants sit in a circle.
  2. Ask the group members to close their eyes, and beginning with one individual list as many items as he can recall about the physical environment in which the group is situated.
  3. When the first group member can list no more items, another member of the group takes over and adds to the list, without repeating information provided by an earlier participant.
  4. The process continues until no new information can be added.
(Ruben & Richards 1975: 32)
Le group exercises.


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