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Excerpt for discussion from my article in Global Health Communication

Since the key to effective health communication lies in its ability to communicate well, some of its core problems are those that relate to the sharing of meaning between communicators. In elaborating on these problems, this paper offers two key propositions: one, health communication has to pass through the filter of a particular world view that creates a discrepancy between expected and actual message reception and response. Two, the assumption of a rational human actor made implicitly by most health psychological models is a contestable issue, as many times message recipients do not follow a cognitive judgment process. The phenomenon of resisting health messages by reasonable people asks the question whether we ought to rethink our adherence to a particular vision of human health as many times the adverse reaction to behaviour modification occurs as the result of a particular dialogical or discursive situation. At the same time, most motivational decisions in people’s daily routines are automatic and use a concept known as self-identity to give stability to their behaviour patterns. Finally, health communication as part of organised government practices adheres to predominant value perspectives within health promotion practice that affect the manner in which health issues become problematised.It is worthwhile to think about a humanistic model that aims to pay attention to the intricacies of human communication by addressing all of the above problems in turn. This would help to interpret the sharing of meaning element in human communication and address the question of how the idea of health is created through discourse.

This blog post is an abstract of a recent article, I published in The Conversation:

So, how do we explain that people wilfully choose to ignore listening to all sides of an argument if ti comes from sources they personally diagree with or despise? Researchers called this phenomenon reactance. It is basically a lack of motivation to comply with someone else's ideas of good and bad. And since every form of communication starts with someone's own worldview which then has to pass through the filter of a possibly very different worldview of others, these rebellious reactions are not surprising.

In many areas in politics and social issues (e.g., debates of gay marriage, climate change, race, religion) we witness an increasing split and hardening of positions, whereby any attempt to focus on perfecting one’s own arguments has not helped the cause but rather led led to an impasse in advancing one's argument.

I do not want to be misunderstood as arguing that focusing on one’s persuasion skills in communicating is somehow wrong or unnecessary. After all, the study of communication has its origins in rhetoric and public speaking skills of the ancient Greeks and Romans. But next to rhetoric, which teaches the art of using persuasive tools, the idea of resolving disagreement through measured agreeable discussion, known as the dialectic method, played an equal role.  

Whereas the idea of the Internet as a democratic source of information and active engagement was noble, the Web algorithms that filtered what someone was exposed to along their interests created an echo chamber of one's own held opinions. It effectively reduced communicative competency to engage in human dialogue.

One way to arrive at practising a slower and more compassionate communication style is borrowing ideas from the "Slow Movement" by stepping away from instant responses and replacing the idea of conversations as a competition with a win-win mentality. On an individual level, we need to balance impersonal with personal communication, seek out and engage with opposing opinions on purpose, and try understanding the background for someone’s position by actively listening.