The Pragmatic Model

I. Revising the theory

Exercise 1. Provide the definitions of the following notions.

  • The pragmatic perspective;
  • interact;
  • payoff.

Exercise 2. What are the elements of the pragmatic model? Add to the list below.

Partners, moves …

Exercise 3. Insert the missing words.

  1. According to the pragmatic view, communication consists of a system of inter-locking, interdependent that become patterned over time.

  2. Scholars who take a pragmatic approach believe that communicating is much like playing a game. When people decide to communicate, they become partners in a game that requires them to make individual “” or acts.

  3. In a pragmatic model, communication is seen as a game of , interlocking moves between interdependent partners.

  4. According to the pragmatic perspective, we cannot not .
    Communication resembles a in that both result in interdependent outcomes, or payoffs.

  5. The principal problem with the pragmatic viewpoint is that it holds that both personality and are irrelevant.

Exercise 4. In what case is communication considered to be unsuccessful? Relying on the pragmatic model, suggest some ways of improving faulty communication.

Exercise 5. The analogy between chess and communication holds in a number of ways. Add to the list below.

  1. The game itself, not what goes on around it, is the central concern.

Exercise 6. What are the shortcomings of the pragmatic perspective?

II. Practicing

Exercise. Analyze the communicative moves of the partners. Comment on the fact that communicative process presupposes interdependence of the partners.

Extract One

“I need to talk to you.”

“I don’t mind. What’s the matter?”

He looked up at me. “I can’t go through with it,” he said abruptly.


“I can’t go through with it,” he said again, a touch of desperation in his voice. “I can’t, Isobel. I need some time. I want to postpone it.”

“The wedding?” I stared at him. “You want to postpone the wedding?”

“Yes,” he nodded.

“You are joking,” I croaked finally

“I’m not joking, Isobel.” His look was anguished. “I need more time.”

Extract Two

Man: Yes, well of course when the steam train was invented, it completely changed nineteenth-century society, didn’t it?

Woman: Yes, it was a tremendous change. People’s entire world view underwent a profound transformation. There were things we find laughable today, such as the fear that the vibration would shatter passengers’ skeletons. And over the next hundred years railways had a radical impact on the countryside, making it possible to live there and commute to work in cities. Outlying villages which had been quiet, sleepy places before trains arrived became busy suburbs.

Man: That’s right and humans underwent a sudden evolution from being comparatively slow and clumsy to becoming the fastest living creatures. This had a subtle but distinct effect in the following years on the way people regarded their place in the world. They began to believe they were no longer totally at the mercy of natural events but they were somehow above them and could take action to harness these phenomena. I doubt if any other invention has had such a profound influence on the human psyche. Nineteenth-century literature and art’s full of it.

Woman: And early steam trains were to blame for some quite horrific accidents…

Extract Three

Woman: Do you think people will lose interest in Olympic events when athletes no longer break records?

Man: Well, they’re only just managing to now. Previously when they broke records, their feats were often mind-blowing. Take Bob Beamon’s long jump record in 1968 55 centimeters longer than the previous record! I can’t imagine anyone making such a difference nowadays.

Woman: Yeah but there’ll always be some individuals who manage to grab the headlines.

Man: Maybe, but they’ll be relatively few and far between. And newspapers and TV will always blow them out of proportion when they occur because they need a sensation.

Woman: Hmmm. Well I think breaking a record even by a millisecond is a sensation.

Man: But I guess we’re getting close to the limits of human ability now.

Woman: Maybe. The key change occurred when top sports people stopped being amateurs and devoted themselves full time to their sport, not to mention new technologies which affected shoe or track design. Perhaps the next big step could be to modify human genes to produce better athletes.

Man: Yeah, that used to sound like science fiction, didn’t it? But if they can do it to rats, they’ll soon be able to do it to humans too.

Woman: Ha, rat Olympics!

III. Applying the model

Exercise. Roleplay a situation. Think of any conflict you have experienced in your life (while communicating with a friend, relative, colleague, etc.). Analyze the situation trying to spot the unproductive moves that caused the problem. Work out an effective set of moves to improve the situation.