Gerald M. Phillips draws on his twenty-five-year, five-thousand-client experience with the Pennsylvania State University Reticence Program to present a new theory of modification of “inept” communication behavior.
That experience has convinced Phillips that communication is arbitrary and rulebound rather than a process of inspiration. He demonstrates that communication problems can be described as errors that can be detected and classified in order to fit a remediation pattern. Regardless of the source of error, the remedy is to train the individual to avoid or eliminate errors—thus, orderly procedure will result in competent performance.
Inept communicators must be made aware of the obligations and constraints imposed by deep structures that require us to achieve a degree of formal order in our language, without which our discourse becomes incomprehensible.