Elam presents all that happens in paralinguistics and messaging that is not seen in his work The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. You can download the book HERE
On pages 34-38 Elam presents all the codes that happen in any performance and communicative activity. This includes:
- Systemic codes such as gesture and movement, expression
- Spatial conventions
- Vestimentary (dress codes) and what they communicate
- Cosmetic codes
- Scenic codes
- Musicality (rhythms, rhyme, tones, pitch, beat etc) in expression
- Positioning norms
- Accepted cultural rules of presentation (semantics and grammar)
- Presenter-audience rules
- Conventions of interpretation
- Rhetorical rules, pronunciation and delivery
- Voice projections, articulation, and intonation
- Localized rules of engagement
- Syntactical codes
- Parallel texts, aesthetic texts
- Cultural typologies
- Language and text competence
- Mimmetic principles eg. mirroring, resonances
- Formal and informal principles of presentation
- Discourse and discourse conventions, hidden cultural story
- Signs and symbol, myth and narrative conventions
- Expectations of cause and effect
- Behavioural and historical codes
- Socio-economic order
In most forms of communication all these codes and cultural conventions are hidden. We learn from early childhood all of the heuristics associated with presenting, performing and communication. 95% of all communication is unconscious. Overt messaging is such a small aspect of any communication activity. Indeed, in most risk and safety messaging I have observed most over messaging is contradicted by covert and unseen messages.
Unconscious messaging is found in the medium NOT the outcome (https://safetyrisk.net/the-medium-is-the-message/). Most creation of meaning between persons is unconscious (https://safetyrisk.net/semiotics-and-unconscious-communication-in-safety/). The message of fake care packaged in the Discourse of zero has the key message of brutalism. It doesn’t matter what tokenistic words leave your mouth, the key message is numbers, metrics and objects, humans come last.
All of the dynamics listed by Elam above are enculturated over time in a population. Most of what we know is hidden in communication is heuristical and intuitive. We rarely stop to focus on what is really communicated especially in safety, where attitudes to communication are profoundly naïve and behavioural.
It is an indictment of the safety industry that there is no section or chapter in the AIHS BoK on Communication nor anything in the OHS curriculum that has a focus on communication. About the best that comes out of the OHS curriculum is some junk on how to run meetings. This is safety. Dozens of chapters in the AIHS BoK on hazards but nothing on how to listen to people. This is because listeing is not a safety activity, safety is a telling activity and telling is not communication.
In SPoR we conduct a module called Communicating to the Unconscious (https://cllr.com.au/product/communicating-unconscious-risk-unit-11/). It is here where we confront all that is hidden in messaging. The idea that communication is about sender, receiver and message is naïve in the extreme.
When we read a book like Elam’s then we walk away from naïve safety and start to realize why much of the messaging in safety doesn’t work. This is why rubbish like Meerkats, Mum’s for Safety, Hazardman etc work AGAINST messaging in safety. The unconscious in messaging is much more powerful than a list of words as Elam highlights and maybe one day safety might pay attention to it.