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Coordinated Management of Meaning CMM basicslevels of interpretation It has been said that "CMM theory is a kind of multi-tool (like

a 'Swiss army knife') that is useful in any situation. It is not a single theory, but rather a collection of ideas to understand how humans interact during communication. According to CMM, individuals construct their own social realities while engaged in conversation. To put it simply, communicators apply rules in order to understand what is going on during their social interaction. Based on the situation, different rules are applied in order to produce "better" patterns of communication. 1. Coherence - Coherence describes how meaning is achieved in conversation. It is the "process by which we tell ourselves (and others) stories in order to interpret the world around us and our place in it". Another way to look at coherence is to see it as a unified context for stories told. These "stories told" can further be broken down into six different building blocks: content, speech acts, episodes, relationships, self, and culture. 2. Content - The content or message according to CMM theory relates to the data and information spoken aloud during communication. The content is essentially the basic building blocks of any language; however, it is important to note that the content by itself is not sufficient to establish the meaning of the communication. 3. Speech Act - Another integral part of the CMM theory includes the speech act. The simplest explanation of a speech act is "actions that you perform by speaking. They include compliments, insults, promises, threats, assertions, and questions". 3. Episode - An episode is a situation created by persons in a conversation. Broken down more simply, face-to-face communication that occurs somewhere at sometime and in the context of whatever else is going on constitutes an episode. Using the building block of episode, you can begin to understand that the same content can take on different meaning when the situation is different. For example, a phrase used among close family or friends may take on an entirely different meaning when in a job interview. 4. Relationship - The act of speaking relates the individuals to each other through conversation. This building block is fairly easy to understand as it is the dynamic of what connects two (or more) individuals during an exchange of information. Examples of a relationship could be defined as a parent/child, teacher/student, strangers, etc. As you can see, communication between strangers would likely be different from conversations amongst family members.

5. Self - self, or self-concept, is an individual's notion of who they are. It is the first person perspective of how an individual experiences life. Several CMM texts describe this building block as a "script for who we are" as the role an individual plays in the movie of life. For example, an individual may believe they are funny, and therefore may act according to that perspective while engaged in different conversations. 6. Culture - The concept of culture in CMM theory relates to a set of rules for acting and speaking which govern what we understand to be normal in a given episode. There are different rules for social interaction depending on the culture. To some extent, during communication individuals act in accordance with their cultural values. While we often don't even realize that culture impacts communication during day to day interactions, people must learn to be compatible with individuals from different cultures in order to have effective communication. 7. Coordination - The concept of coordination has to do with the fact that our actions do not stand alone with regard to communication. The words or actions that we use during a conversation come together to produce patterns. These patterns, also known as stories lived, influence the behavior used during each interaction as a way to collaborate. 8. Mystery - The final concept has to do with the concept that not everything within communication can be explained. Mystery, also known as stories unexpressed, is the recognition that "the world and our experience of it is more than any of the particular stories that make it coherent or any of the activities in which we engage" . Mystery has to do with the sense of awe or wonder when communication leads to a surprising outcome.