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Communication Anxiety

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Abstract Communication essentially refers to passing of information from one party to another. There are generally two forms of communication. The verbal and the non-verbal communicatiuion. Verbal communication is basically the spoken or written means of communicating. On the other hand, non-verbal communication refers to those acts, gestures or suggestive body movements that relay information without spoken words. The importance of communication cannot be overstated. In every sphere of life, good communication plays a cruicial role in ensuring starndard if not outstanding performance as well as sustainability. Success in virtually all endevours calls for good communication. For a healthy family setup, communication between the parents and the children has to be efficient. In business, good communication is vital for smooth running of every organization. Despite the known facts about the heavy significance of good and effective communication, since the 19th centuary communication apprehension has been persistently a ruccuring hindarance that has never been fully addressed. Families have fallen apart as a result of barriers to communication. Employees have lost their jobs to communication anxiety. Organistation have fallen to the ground due communication breakdown. Students have registered low grades attributed to communication anxiety. Communication apprehension is now established as the biggest hindarance to communication in all environments.

Introduction Communication anxiety commonly referred to as communication apprehension (CA), has been an interesting subject for a very long time. Many scholars have carried out research on CA coming up with different theories but, for the most part, these have been related. The understanding of CA is dependent on the definition that is being referred to. One of the scholars who extensively carried out work on the subject, Berger (1984), redefined his earlier definition of CA and said that it is ones' degree of anxiousness stemming from having to communicate with other people. Byrns, (1994) defines CA differently; he introduce the use of the term anxiety. He states that anxiety is the anticipating of an event with the perception that it is threatening, in public speaking it is the tensing that usually precedes delivering a talk. There are numerous symptoms of communication anxiety. Warner, (1997) discusses several of these symptoms referring to various scholars. The body undergoes some physiological and hormonal changes that account for the body obtaining higher levels of energy than normal. These include increased sugar levels, secretion of insulin, release of thyroxin, elevated blood pressure, increased respiration and conductivity of nerves, and a general increase in metabolism. Blankenship, & Sweeney, (1980) suggests sevens signs of CA that include, absence of eye contact, rapidness, absence of articulation, hesitation, lack of audibility, absence of tonal variation, and absence of body language. Warner, (1997) points out that hesitation is particularly interesting. He argues that pause permit delay and should not be filled with "ums", rather they should remain quiet and filled with silence. Communication anxiety can result from inadequate proficiency in a particular language, insufficient practice, and lack of confidence or anticipation of negative outcomes. (P'Rayan, & Shetty, 2008). Wilder, (1999) says that fears of CA are of five forms namely, career terror, perfectionism, panicking, avoidance, and traumatism. Beatty, McCroskey, & Heisel, (1998) argue that CA resulting from social learning is presumptuous with supporting no concrete supporting evidence. They propose that etiologically CA has roots with biological explanations. James McCroskey has explored effects of CA in some of his extensive work on the subject. In summary, the consequences of CA can be emotional, educational or social. Many researchers have made suggestions on possible solutions for CA. Four possible treatments can be deducted from work done thus far. These include systemic desensitization, rhetoritherapy, cognitive modification, and skill training.

Systematic desensitization In simple terms, systematic desensitization (SD) is the exposure of oneself to that which you fear. Fear of public speaking should lessen as an individual practices repeatedly in the environment that makes them uncomfortable giving root to the fear. With repeated exercise, one is more desensitized about their fear hence decreasing their communication anxiety (Bjerregaard, & Compton 2011). Friedrich, et.al (1997) describe SD as a package of treatment with a systematic order that includes relaxing of deep muscles, constructing hierarchies of stimuli that elicit anxiety, and pairing of the stimuli with the relaxed state. As a solution, SD approach has usefulness in dealing with key issues of communication anxiety as a neurotic introversion. In this, it shows effectiveness in the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) activation (Kelly, & Keaten, 2000). Friedrich, et.al (1997) provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of SD as a treatment approach, especially in public speaking. However, they do not explain the mechanism behind it. From the communibiological angle, SD decreases the intensity of the stimuli resulting in the elimination of excessive activation of BIS. Arguments about the underlying mechanism made by Freeman et.al, (1997) are consistent with the communibiological views. They state that SD works because of habituation, that is, specific responses resulting from specific stimuli dependent on defined neural mechanisms. These mechanisms show no relations to the degree of the stimuli rather varying with frequency of exposure to the stimuli. They conclude that the effectiveness of SD is dependent on the degree of intensity of the stimuli and the frequency of exposure. The effectiveness of systemic desensitization in treating biological anxieties are potentially limited in that it neither treats the fear of being punished nor rewards cessation (Kelly, & Keaten, 2000). According to Warner, (1997), the mechanism behind SD (what he also calls reciprocal inhibition), lie behind the dominance of reflexes. He states that when a response that inhibits anxiety is made to occur at the same time as a stimulus eliciting anxiety such that it is followed by total or partial masking of the anxiety. Once anxiety is masked the bond between the two stimuli and the anxiety weakens. Essentially systematic desensitization works under the principle that organisms cannot carry out two opposing responses simultaneously. According to Warner, a crucial part of using the SD behavior therapy is the hierarchy stage. He states that care should be taken to avoid making large increments in the intensity of anxiety. The smaller the change, the more favorable it is. The practicality of SD is observed in how easy it is to administer and the various settings in which it can be effectively used. The steps mentioned earlier involved in SD are so easy that an individual can carry them out without the need of external guidance (Warner, 1997). Despite receiving much praise and acceptance as a treatment approach, systemic desensitization has also received criticism from a few researchers. Warner says that SD received criticism, mostly due to subject effects. He says that it has been documented by some scholars that some patients only report to having improved to justify their efforts in participating in the program. While the truth is, no improvement was made. However, he is of the belief that behavioral information collected is pure. Warner also mentions that it has been argued by some scholars that SD is practically limited with respect to how much it relaxes someone, how it signals anxiety, and how clear the aversion are. More importantly, these scholars question whether conjured visions during the hierarchy stage apply to real life situations (Warner, 1997).
Rhetoritherapy
Fundamentally, rhetoritherapy is the polar reverse of systematic desensitization. Contrary to what McCroskey believes, Gerald Phillips, the flag-bearer in proposing the rhetoritherapy approach, believes that CA is rooted in the inability to give good performance. McCroskey and Phillips differ mainly in how they view anxiety of the processes of CA reduction. Phillips calls for careful instruction to enhance efficiency in public speaking as opposed to McCroskey, who mandates treatment to reduce anxiety (Warner, 1997). Rhetoritherapy is a fairly new developed approach to solving the paradigm of communication apprehension compared to SD. However, it has received huge successes in different studies concerning its effectiveness. Demonstrations have shown that the approach is 85% effective in approximately 1000 case studies. A different study observed groups of reticent students for a period of one year after completion of a program. The researcher observed that almost all the students were able to perform well during communication events that they were initially incapable of handling. The tension was not entirely cured, the students still felt some tension, but rhetoritherapy assisted them to manage their tension. The perception that the students had of CA as impairments were no longer there (Warner, 1997). Anxiety is of major importance to rhetoritherapy, specifically its role in communication. Considering anxiety results from frustrations, given rise by nonproductive behaviors, it could be a basis for neurosis. This model suggests that individuals who often fail to achieve their social objectives they develop anxiety due to this failure. However, they may not directly associate their feelings and whatever happened to them as they interact with others (Phillips, & Sokoloff, 1979). Subscription to the rhetoric perspective needs for an association of anxiety and performance as well as how performance is perceived. This is because if an individual is aware that he is underperforming, he might feel the need to perform, but the resulting problem tends to be the kind of performance and not the emotions involved. A simple model is involved in rhetoritherapy with simple procedures. This consists of people believing to have circumstantial communication problems. The therapist then tries to have these persons describe their behavior during particular circumstances and also define the response they receive from third parties. The rhetoritherapist then makes the suggestion on what goals the student should have. Once the student accepts these goals, he can start training (Phillips, & Sokoloff, 1979). In rhetoritherapy, causal factors are considered insignificant hence no effort is put to describe them. This therapy assumes that people are capable of exerting their will and deciding the manner in which they want to behave. Anxiety is born out of poor judgments that are sometimes made, or due to the inability to activate the decisions made. During any occasion proficiency in communication is an ad hoc procedure beginning only when an individual decides the way he wants to behave (Warner, 1997). Rhetoritherapy is involved serial heuristic questions. How the student answers the questions is very important because it will act as a baseline to decide on the specific behaviors to choose and in which way to adopt them. Once an analysis of an individual's situation is done using the series of heuristic question, he proceeds to objectives tailored to result in desired changes. The major argument put across by rhetoritherapy is that people are capable of solving their speech problems through trainings (Warner, 1997).
Cognitive therapy Cognitive therapy involves both cognitive altering or modification and rational-emotive therapy. Bjerregaard, & Compton, (2011) describe cognitive altering as a training process in which individuals need to acknowledge that they have been taught to harbor negative thoughts about themselves from others, hence it becomes necessary for them to be trained to think in a positive way. They describe cognitive modification as involving the concerned individual determining the negative thoughts they have about themselves. This could perhaps involve the persons listing down all the positive thoughts he has against the negative thoughts he has towards himself. Once the negative thoughts have been identified, the individual has to be taught how to replace them by thinking positively. This will help in overcoming the anxiety. From a social perspective, the cognitive therapy's effectiveness is based on replacement of anxiety inducing thoughts with thoughts that are calming as such decreasing the levels of anxiety. Viewing from a communibiological perspective, the approach is effective on the basis that it redefines stimuli. Threatening stimuli such as the threat of being punished and reward cessation are redefined into nonthreatening stimuli and as a result BIS is not activated and no anxiety is experienced (Kelly, & Keaten, 2000). Albert Ellis, first documented rational emotive therapy as an approach to treating CA, in 1958. The principle of the therapy is that anxiety results from irrational ideas and that disturbed individuals have to learn how to de-propagandize through the processes of thought and acting on the thoughts. Emotions are regulated by cognition; a person thinking negatively will get depressed while one who thinks positively will be happy. This is the anxiety paradigm and how it illustrates the emotive process (Warner, 1997). Warner, 1997 argues that anxiety results from irrational thoughts. When people believe something is dangerous or frightening, they get very preoccupied with it and end up being upset. Warner says that putting all physical pain aside there is no apparent reason for getting someone upset. When people get emotional, they are just exercising cognition ineffectively. However, unlike emotions, it is possible to train cognition to yield productively positively reasonable behavior. In fact, nobody needs to be a prisoner of his negative thinking or that planted in his heads by peers. For positive training to be effective, a person must first identify the negative thoughts he or she has, and then challenge the unreasonable ideologies, and finally replace them with rational positive thoughts. Some evidence supports the effectiveness of rational emotive therapy. In a study case amongst an elderly population, the therapy was shown to be effective by producing positive results in reducing anxiety and its effects. In another study conducted by Jacob and Croake, rational emotive therapy was found to reduce the levels of irrational thinking, decrease the levels of anxiety, and reported a reduction in cases of reported personal problems. Other similar studies reported improvement in treating paranoia and depression (Warner, 1997). Rational emotive therapy is advantageous as a treatment approach in that it is possible to be used in a group setting. Group discussions using this therapy have reported a decrease in anxiety. This suggests efficiency in use of the counselor's time in attending to a large number of people within a short time. Also worth noting is the possibility that the group setting provides an opportunity for members to support each other in overcoming their fears during the therapy. No drawbacks have yet been reported regarding rational emotive therapy except for the lack of sufficient research to identify whether the positive result would have a long lasting effect or not (Warner, 1997).
Assertiveness training Skills training (ST) is one the approaches for treating communication anxiety. ST occurs in a number of different forms. However, the approach essentially aims at equipping individuals with skills necessary competent performances in any event involving communication. Like the other approaches mentioned above there is enough evidence supporting skills training as being effective in the reduction of fears involved with communication. From a social learning perspective, the effectiveness of skills training can be said to be straightforward. ST enables persons with CA to acquire skills that allow them to perform well. Good performance will in turn enable them to successfully meet their objective and gain social approval. This will all lead to boosting the person's confidence levels and at the same time decreasing their anxiety levels (Kelly, & Keaten, 2000). Viewing skills training from the communibiological angle, the approach appears to be effective by lowering the novelty related to the stimuli. For example in the public speaking scenario, by skills training students can organize a good speech using different aids such as notecards and rehearsals reducing the novelty related to speech making. The other way to view ST in the communibiological perspective is by considering the punishment threat and the BIS. The fear of being punished is key in the activation of BIS. When ST involves rehearsals in front of audiences, it can effectively address the fear associated with punishment by allowing students the experience to speak without being punished. ST may also address the fear of punishment by providing students with structures on public speaking. By following these structures, the students believe they are following the rules and hence their fear of punishment is reduced (Kelly, & Keaten, 2000).
Conclusion
Various scholars define communication anxiety differently; however, what is clear is that it has significant implications on the society. McCroskey even considers CA as impairment amongst children. Having to say that good communication is very important in daily activities will be an understatement. In all circles of life, from the school environment to work places and even home, communication is vital for smooth, productive running and anxiety poses a hindrance. One of the key importance of communication is how people involved the communication event perceive each other. How a person communicates greatly influences the perception, other people have towards him. It has been established from different research cases that people exhibiting CA are generally viewed as negative. Employees in the work places have been seen to be less involved in dominant leadership positions due to CA. Students at school record poor performance, which from studies has also been attributed to communication anxiety that hinders the students from being involved in classrooms hence missing out on key aspects. College students were also studied in a different case, and the GPA was found to correlate with the levels of communication anxiety shown by the students. For most part, different negative effects of communication anxiety have been ignored, and efforts have just been concerned with CA and public speaking. However, it is important that negative outcomes of communication anxiety be brought to light and given attention. This will is important in ensuring individuals achieve their potential. Clearly, communication has adverse effects, and there is the need for a solution. Much effort has been directed to solving this paradigm but so far, it has not been without its contradictions. As discussed above, communication anxiety can be viewed from two main perspectives, the social learning perspective, and the communibiological perspective. From the social learning perspective, treatment is necessary and seen to be effective. The communibiological perspective involves debates on the matter. However, it has been established even among the communibiology theorists that CA is not entirely genetic and as such there is room for treatment. There are three major reasons why treatment is necessary. First, there are large numbers of people in need of assistance in combatting the problem of public speaking. Secondly, the role played by the environment in nurturing communication anxiety cannot be ignored. Lastly, concerning the communibiological perspective, treatment is still necessary regarding reward and punishment. This is because the reward cessation or threats of punishment mostly have a social basis. Different scholars have proposed different treatment approaches so far. These treatments are believed to be effective, and results from different studies have proven them so. Despite the recorded effectiveness of the different methods, what remains a concern is identifying whether the result from this treatment really change people's lives on a long term basis. Investigations public speaking are necessary to establish the relationship between communication and an individual's personality, and the manner in which self-perception and personality affect individual behavior. From our discussion above it is clear that much has been done concerning communication anxiety and more studies are being conducted. Nonetheless, it is important to bring to attention other effects of CA, which as well require focus in the ongoing research. It is also important to note that more work needs to be done regarding the drawbacks of the current treatment approaches and if possible a new treatment.

References
Beatty, M. J., McCroskey, J. C., & Heisel, A. D. (1998). Communication apprehension as temperamental expression: A communibiological paradigm.Communications Monographs, 65(3), 197-219.
Blankenship, J., & Sweeney, B. (1980). The “energy”; of form. Communication Studies, 31(3), 172-183.
Bjerregaard, M., & Compton, E. (2011). Public speaking handbook. Retrieved December, 25, 2013.
Byrns, J. H. (1994). Speak for yourself: An introduction to public speaking. McGraw-Hill.
Daly, J. A. (1997). Avoiding communication: Shyness, reticence, and communication apprehension. Hampton Pr.
Friedrich, G., Goss, B., Cunconan, T., & Lane, D. (1997). Systematic desensitization. Avoiding communication: Shyness, reticence, and communication apprehension, 305-329.
Phillips, G. M., & Sokoloff, K. A. (1979). An end to anxiety treating speech problems with rhetoritherapy. Journal of communication disorders, 12(5), 385-397.
Kelly, L., & Keaten, J. A. (2000). Treating communication anxiety: Implications of the communibiological paradigm. Communication Education, 49(1), 45-57.
McCroskey, J. C., Beatty, M. J., Kearney, P., & Plax, T. G. (1985). The content validity of PRCA‐24 as a measure of communication apprehension across communication contexts. Communication Quarterly, 33(3), 165-173.
P’Rayan, A., & Shetty, R. T. (2008). Developing engineering students’ communication skills by reducing their communication apprehension. English for Specific Purposes World, 4(20), 1-24.
Warner, E. D. (1997). A description of the approaches to communication apprehension.
Wilder, L. (1999). 7 steps to fearless speaking. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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